We’ve had terrible news last week with the loss of thirty-three lives aboard the cargo ship El Faro. It was lost off the Bahamas in the middle of Hurricane Joaquin. On top of that, South Carolina has endured devastating floods that have left thousands homeless. So it’s nice to be able to share some really good news today.
This past week three notorious poachers, all officers aboard the Thunder, were convicted of forgery, pollution, damage to the environment, and recklessness. Captain Luis Alfonso Rubio Cataldo (Chile), Chief Engineer Agustin Dosil Rey (Spain), and Second Mechanic Luis Miguel Perez Fernandez (Spain) received sentences between thirty-two and thirty-six months. In addition, they must pay fifteen million euros, well over sixteen million US dollars.
But none of this would have happened without the courage and persistence of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The drama actually unfolded in early January when the Sea Shepherd’s ship, The Bob Barker, captained by Peter Hammarstedt, chased one of six ships, the Thunder, notorious for overfishing, for months. During that time, the crew of the Thunder did everything conceivable short of sinking their own ship to shake the tenacious crew of the Sea Shepherd.
On the hundred and tenth day, they did exactly that, scuttling their ship to destroy possible evidence to be used in court though they would deny it. The Sea Shepherd’s Bob Barker and sister ship Sam Simon, captained by Sid Chakravarty, plucked the wet and unhappy crew from their life rafts and brought them to justice. Several of the toothfish they poached in Antarctic waters became damning evidence.
The culprits were tried in Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation off the coast of West Africa. What makes this so exciting is that it is a landmark case. For the first time, poachers have not only been successfully pursued by international organizations including Interpol but caught with the integrity of the evidence intact. That coupled with the testimony of the Sea Shepherd’s crew sealed the case, something hard to do on the high seas.
And as if the news couldn’t get any better, Sea Shepherd just laid the keel for an ultra modern ship that will be even faster and more capable of tracking down sea scum who thumb their nose at the international community struggling to keep the seas in a healthy balance. Their ship will be deployed to the Antarctic but will be capable of chasing poachers anywhere in the world. That’s little comfort to the culprits who dedicate their lives to (IUU) illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing.
If you’re going to play with the Sea Shepherd, you better put your big boy pants on because they are serious about what their name implies. Make no mistake about it. Shepherd of the Seas plays hard ball, and because of their tenacity, intensity, and direct action are eschewed by some. A lot of maritime organizations out there do a lot of good. God knows, we need them all. But no one should have any qualms about supporting Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This past week’s verdict should be a testimony to that.
What are you willing to do for the sea this week?
Be more than an armchair observer.
Hungry for more information about Sea Shepherd? http://www.seashepherd.org
Want to get in on the action? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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