What the Sea Shepherds did during the summer in the Galapagos, Faroe Islands, and Tokyo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2010:


FRIDAY HARBOR– The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
celebrated but pledged to remain involved in the Galapagos Islands on
July 28, 2010, after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organiz-ation’s World Heritage Committee voted 14-5 to drop
the Galapagos from the UNESCO list of endangered World Heritage
sites. Added to the list in 2007, the Galapagos were downlisted in
recognition of improved environmental protection by the government of
Ecuador– including restraining alleged economic exploitation by
senior officers in the Ecuadoran navy.
The Sea Shepherds began helping the Galapagos National Park
Service to patrol the Galapagos Marine Reserve in late 2000. In
early 2001 one of the first Sea Shepherd missions undertaken with the
park service exposed the involvement of Ecuadoran navy vessels in
support of shark poaching. The Sea Shepherds later donated the
patrol boat Sirenian to the Galapagos National Park Service, and
established a permanent office in the Galapagos in support of ongoing
anti-poaching efforts.

The Galapagos success followed Sea Shepherd coups at opposite
ends of Europe. On June 17, 2010 the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin
intercepted an Italian vessel and a Maltese vessel in Libyan waters.
The Italian vessel was towing a floating cage containing about 800
juvenile bluefin tuna. The tuna appeared to have been caught after
the close of the bluefin season three days earlier. Though rammed by
the Maltese vessel, the Sea Shepherds released the tuna and evaded
pursuit by the Libyan Navy.
A month later, on July 19, 2010, Sea Shepherd crew member
Peter Hammarstedt videotaped Faroe Islanders in the act of hacking to
death 236 pilot whales who had been driven into a shallow cove. The
Sea Shepherds previously documented the rarely witnessed Faroese
pilot whale massacres in 1986 and 2000. The killings are otherwise
known chiefly from occasional leaks of information by Faroe Islanders
The Faroe Islands are a semi-autonmous protectorate of
Denmark. The Danish government estimates that Faroe Islanders kill
about 2,400 pilot whales per year. Previous investigations by the
Sea Shepherds and the Environmental Investigation Agency indicate
that the killing is done chiefly to eliminate perceived competition
for fishers, and that about 30% of the whale meat is discarded.
The Sea Shepherd activities in the Galapagos and European
waters were upstaged by the Tokyo trial of New Zealand yacht racer
Pete Bethune for disrupting Japanese “research” whaling within
Antarctic waters designated as a whale sanctuary by the International
Whaling Commission.
Joining the Sea Shepherds for their third consecutive winter
of pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica waters, Bethune
brought with him the bio-diesel fueled trimaran Earthrace, which in
2007 circled the world in 61 days. The Earthrace was renamed the Ady
Gil in honor of Hollywood investor Ady Gil, who sponsored the use of
the trimaran in the Antarctic.
The Ady Gil caught the whalers in early January 2010 after a
six-week chase. The Ady Gil was joined on January 6 by the former
Norwegian whaler Bob Barker, bought for the Sea Shepherds by retired
TV game show host Bob Barker. But within hours the Ady Gil was
rammed by the whale-catcher Shonan Maru #2.
Videos of the ramming taken from the Bob Barker, the Ady
Gil, and the Shonan Maru #2 all appeared to show that the Ady Gil
was dead in the water when the Shonan Maru #2 circled, accelerated,
and hit the Ady Gil broadside, shearing off the bow. The
Aust-ralian Maritime Safety Authority said in June 2010, however,
that it could not determine who was at fault due to Japanese
noncooperation wth the investigation. The Bob Barker took the Ady Gil
under tow, but the Ady Gil took on too much water and sank on
January 8.
Bethune on February 14 boarded the Shonan Maru #2 from a Jet
Ski and handed the captain a bill for the loss of the Ady Gil. Taken
to Japan and held for five months, Bethune was on July 9 convicted
in Tokyo District Court of interfering with the whale hunt, received
a two-year suspended sentence, and was deported to New Zealand.

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