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Sea Shepherd
Worldwide

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

Sea Shepherd is not verified as a 501(c)3 organization.

Latest News

Mar 20, 2015

108 Days at Sea: Operation Icefish Update

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Peter Hammarstedt, Captain of the Bob BarkerPeter Hammarstedt, Captain of the Bob Barker
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Chiara Bussini
Captain Peter Hammarstedt and his international crew of Sea Shepherd volunteers have been at sea now for 108 continuous days. And today marks the 93rd day of the pursuit of the Nigerian-flagged, Spanish-owned Antarctic toothfish poacher Thunder by the Bob Barker.

The chase that began off the Banzare Coast of Antarctica crossed the Indian Ocean into the South Atlantic and now both ships are in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Angola on a course of 344 True at 8.3 knots. The 0600 (UTC) position was 16 Degrees, 38 minutes South and 005 Degrees, 37 Minutes East.

Wherever the poachers go, Sea Shepherd intends to follow to prevent them from changing the name and flag of the Thunder in port. This is the longest pursuit of a poaching vessel in maritime history.

Meanwhile the toothfish-poaching vessel Kunlun continues to be detained in Phuket, Thailand after changing their name to Taishan and switching their flag from Equatorial Guinea to Indonesia.

They offloaded their cargo of 180 tons of toothfish with a false declaration and had it shipped to Vietnam. Thai authorities are saying they have demanded the return of the cargo and may place it back onboard the Taishan and order them to leave port.

Officials from the Spanish fishing company Vidal Armadores arrived in Phuket and apparently are working to get the detainment of the ship and crew lifted prior to the arrival of inspectors from INTERPOL, Australia and New Zealand.

Will the poachers avoid prosecution? The possibility is that they will, considering that the money behind these illegal fishing operations rivals that of illegal drugs and guns.

But as the drama in Phuket plays out, the high-seas chase continues in the South Atlantic some 1,000 miles south of the Equator as both the Thunder and the Bob Barker continue to head north.

Wherever the poachers go, Sea Shepherd intends to follow to prevent them doing a name and flag change. This is the longest pursuit of a poaching vessel in maritime history.

Meanwhile the KUNLUN continues to be detained in Phuket, Thailand after changing their name to TAISHAN and switching their flag from Equatorial Guinea to Indonesia.

They offloaded their cargo of 180 tons of Toothfish with a false declaration and had it shipped to Vietnam. Thai authorities are saying they have demanded the return of the cargo and may place it back onboard the TAISHAN and order them to leave port.

Officials from the Spanish fishing company Vidal Armadores arrived in Phuket and apparently are working to get lift the detainment of the ship and crew prior to the arrival of inspectors from Interpol, Australia and New Zealand.

Will the poachers avoid prosecution? The possibility is that they will, considering that the money behind these illegal fishing operations rivals that of illegal drugs and guns.

But as the drama in Phuket plays out the high seas chase continues in the South Atlantic some 1,000 miles south of the Equator as both the THUNDER and the BOB BARKER continue to head north.

Interpol wanted poaching vessel, Thunder, shadowed by the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and Sam SimonInterpol wanted poaching vessel, Thunder, shadowed by the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and Sam Simon
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager

Mar 17, 2015

Poaching Vessel, Kunlun, is Detained in Thailand

The Kunlun crosses dangerously in front of the bow of the Sam Simon after being intercepted by the Sea Shepherd ship in Australian waters on February 2. Photo: Jeff WirthThe Kunlun crosses dangerously in front of the bow of the Sam Simon after being intercepted by the Sea Shepherd ship in Australian waters on February 2.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Jeff Wirth
The Interpol wanted, internationally blacklisted poaching vessel, Kunlun, has been detained in Phuket, Thailand on fisheries-related violations.

The action comes just over two months after the vessel was caught by the New Zealand Navy engaged in illegal fishing in Australian waters, and just over a month after it was intercepted by the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, in possession of banned fishing equipment, again in Australian waters.

The Kunlun, which is one of six vessels that are known to still engage in Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean, was detained in a coordinated effort between international policing organistation, Interpol, and law enforcement authorities in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

The Kunlun has a long history of suspected fishing violations and is believed to have links to known Spanish crime sydnicate, Vidal Armadores.

Since 2008, the poaching vessel has changed names at least ten times in order to avoid prosecution. In January, the Kunlun was issued with and Interpol Purple Notice for illegally fishing for toothfish inside an area regulated by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Captain Sid Chakravarty of the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, said, “The Australian government has both a legal and moral responsibility to defend its waters from poachers who wish to exploit it. Yesterday, in cooperation with Interpol, and the Thai and New Zealand authorities, they showed that they take those responsibilities seriously.”

The Kunlun is one of three IUU fishing vessels that have been intercepted by Sea Shepherd since the commencement of Operation Icefish in December, 2014.

On December 17 2014, the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, intercepted the most notorious of the outlaw vessels, the Nigerian-flagged Thunder, on the Banzare Bank in Antarctica. Despite attempts by the poaching vessel to flee, the Bob Barker has maintained a continuous pursuit of the Thunder, which today enters day 90, off the coast of Namibia.

On February 2 2015, the Sam Simon intercepted the Kunlun along with another poaching vessel, the Yongding, in Australian waters. The Sam Simon then engaged in a pursuit of the Kunlun, chasing the poaching vessel out of its hunting grounds in the Southern Ocean.

Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, said, “Over three months, the Sea Shepherd ships have intercepted three of the six remaining toothfish poaching operators. We have shut down the most notorious of those poachers, the Thunder, and we have chased another, the Kunlun, out of its hunting grounds, into the hands of law enforcement authorities. Operation Icefish has shone a spotlight on these criminal operators, ensuring that they can no longer hide-out in the shadowlands of the Southern Ocean and demanding that governments take action against their illegal activity.”

Commencing in December last year, Operation Icefish is Sea Shepherd’s first Southern Ocean Defence Campaign to target IUU fishing operators in the waters of Antarctica.

Mar 11, 2015

Makah Whaling – Whales Must Be Protected in U.S. Waters

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Gray WhaleGray Whale
Photo courtesy of Wiki media commons
Sea Shepherd Legal (SSL) will make a presentation on April 27th in Seattle at a hearing to be held by NOAA Fisheries on the proposal by the Makah Tribe to kill gray whales in the waters off Washington state. SSL's position is that this permission should not be granted and that whales must be protected 100% in U.S. waters.

SSL is also exploring legal avenues of opposition to this proposal. Tradition and culture must never be a justification for the killing of whales and dolphins or for violating international conservation law.

In 1998, Sea Shepherd exposed documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that exposed negotiations between the Makah and the Japanese whaling industry that would have sold meat from the "traditional" hunt to the Japanese market.

As Makah Tribal Elder Alberta Thompson said at the time, "This is not tradition. It was part of our culture to weave baskets and to pick berries in the mountains. It was part of our culture to speak our language. No one want to weave baskets or to speak Makah. What they want to do is to kill a whale with an anti-tank gun – and that has never been a part of Makah culture."

Sea Shepherd Legal is a 501(c)(3) entity, operating separately from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Makah tribe grey whale hunt question reopened by NOAA report

Mar 09, 2015

Sea Shepherd Remembers Our Dear Friend, Sam Simon, 1955-2015

news-150309-1-SamSimon-facebook7-472wAll of us at Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are deeply saddened by the loss of the amazing human being, Sam Simon. A true friend of Sea Shepherd and a hero for animals everywhere, as well as an award-winning television executive and co-creator of The Simpsons, Sam passed away last night at the age of 59 following his brave battle with cancer.

Sam Simon was a devoted animal activist and noted philanthropist, generously giving to the causes closest to his heart, including Sea Shepherd’s mission to defend ocean wildlife worldwide. In 2012, Sam donated to Sea Shepherd the funds to purchase a ship, which was proudly named in his honor. The M/V Sam Simon has been engaged in several Sea Shepherd Australia campaigns and is currently protecting Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish from poachers as part of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Icefish.

Not only has Sam Simon, the ship, joined Sea Shepherd campaigns on the frontlines, but Sam Simon, the man, has as well. In 2014, Sam made the long trip to Taiji, Japan to join Sea Shepherd USA’s Cove Guardians on the ground and document firsthand the atrocities that go on in Taiji’s infamous cove. He stood with Sea Shepherd Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader Melissa Sehgal and her team of volunteer Cove Guardians as the hunt season ended and the tarps that hide the brutal actions of the dolphin killers were taken down.

Sam also showed his support for Sea Shepherd by hosting a comedy fundraiser, “Stand Up for the Oceans,” for us in 2011, and spoke at several events, shining a bright spotlight on the issues facing the marine animals about which he cared so deeply. Most recently, he marched with more than 200 people in Los Angeles in February as part of Sea Shepherd’s “World Love for Dolphins Day” rallies against the Taiji dolphin slaughter.

Sam Simon speaks to the crowd at World Love for Dolphins Day 2015 in Los Angeles, CASam Simon speaks to the crowd at World Love for Dolphins Day 2015 in Los Angeles, CA
Photo: Sea Shepherd

“This is truly a devastating loss, for me and for Sea Shepherd and for the thousands of people and animals whose lives have been touched by Sam Simon. He will be remembered as a great friend and as an unwavering defender of animals,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson.

Along with his uncompromising support of Sea Shepherd, Sam Simon was a generous supporter of several animal rights organizations and causes, and has generously given millions of dollars to free abused animals to sanctuaries. His charitable non-profit, the Sam Simon Foundation, works to both rescue dogs from shelters and train them to become assistance animals for people in need. An award-winning producer, writer and director, Sam Simon was known for his work on such hit TV shows as The Tracey Ullman Show, Taxi, Cheers, and The Drew Carey Show. He was the recipient of nine Emmy Awards and a Peabody award.

We love you and will miss you, Sam.

Sam Simon in Japan with the Cove GuardiansSam Simon in Japan with the Cove Guardians, February 2014
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Mar 06, 2015

Marina Harbor Anchorage Kindly Offers All Sea Shepherd Vessels Free Berth

Commentary by Captain Oona Layolle, R/V Martin Sheen

Marina Harbor Anchorage in Marina del ReyMarina Harbor Anchorage in Marina del Rey
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Carolina A Castro
Marina Harbor Anchorage in Marina del Rey, Calif. is now the first marina to welcome all Sea Shepherd vessels while sending an eco-friendly message to other harbors around the world. The marina has generously offered free berth to all Sea Shepherd vessels in the future, in hopes of inspiring other marinas to do the same.

The crew of the R/V Martin Sheen and I enjoyed our time at Marina Harbor Anchorage as we repaired and maintained the vessel. Sea Shepherd’s newest member of the fleet is now seaworthy and ready to carry out vital marine research and conservation campaigns.

We are now ready to go anywhere we are needed onboard this research vessel, well equipped to protect the oceans and the imperiled wildlife within.

A big thank you to marina manager Valter Golfieri and the marina administrator at the anchorage, Jackie Zolnierowicz, for helping to make our crew of our volunteers feel so very welcome. We have been treated very well, and we will all miss your kindness and the wonderful facilities offered by your marina.

I hope this generosity shown by Marina Harbor Anchorage will inspire other marinas to do what they can to support and help Sea Shepherd in our ongoing efforts to save marine wildlife and make this planet – which is so dependent on thriving ocean eco-systems – a beautiful and healthy place. If we all work together, we can accomplish amazing things for the oceans, protecting marine bio-diversity for our future and for future generations.

Thank you Marina Harbor Anchorage for welcoming Sea Shepherd, the R/V Martin Sheen and our dedicated crew, and for being a positive example of ocean conservation. You are showing the way for other marinas around the world.

The crew of the R/V Martin SheenThe crew of the R/V Martin Sheen
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Carolina A Castro

Mar 05, 2015

78 Days of Pursuit: Operation Icefish Update

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

The leaders of Operation Icefish, Capts. Sid Chakravarty and Peter Hammarstedt, in front of some of the 72 km of illegal gillnet abandoned by the Thunder.The leaders of Operation Icefish, Capts. Sid Chakravarty and Peter Hammarstedt, in front of some of the 72 km of illegal gillnet abandoned by the Thunder.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Jeff Wirth
Where, oh, where is the Thunder going? It is the 78th day of pursuit of this toothfish poacher by the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker. The two vessels are now at 38 degrees 21’ south and 037 degrees 38’ east. The poachers speed up and drift. They go east and then west again and drift. The intent is obvious; they are trying to outlast the crew on the Bob Barker, but Captain Peter Hammarstedt and his crew are not going to let these poachers go.

Meanwhile, Captain Sid Chakravarty is meeting with INTERPOL officials to organize the evidence of the Thunder’s poaching activities, i.e. the 72 kilometers of gill net that the Thunder abandoned when it began to flee from the Bob Barker on December 17, 2014.

The Austral Fisheries has commended Sea Shepherd along with the Australian and New Zealand governments for taking action against these illegal operations.

A few crewmembers have departed from the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon to return home after months of service to the campaigns. They have been replaced by new crewmembers arriving in Mauritius.

Masked officer on board Thunder patrols the decks as the Sea Shepherd small boat approaches.Masked officer on board
Thunder patrols the decks as the
Sea Shepherd small boat approaches.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Jeff Wirth
As soon as the Sam Simon completes the investigations with INTERPOL in Mauritius, the ship will return to sea to assist the Bob Barker.

Operation Icefish has been very successful in exposing the operations of these poachers and making connections between them and fishing companies in Spain. The Thunder has lost its nets, its catch and its profits for the entire season and still faces prosecution in whichever port it is forced to go to once short of fuel and supplies.

This is the longest pursuit of a poacher in maritime history, surpassing the 21-day pursuit of a Uruguayan poacher in 2003 by Australian Customs.

Mar 05, 2015

UK Supreme Court Victory for Endangered Bluefin Tuna & Sea Shepherd!

In a Binding Decision Wednesday, the UK’s High Court Ruled Fish & Fish Ltd. Cannot Pursue Their Claim against Sea Shepherd in the UK

Escaping through the netEscaping through the net
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom announced its decision in the case of Sea Shepherd UK vs. Fish & Fish Limited, a decision that brings a long-awaited victory for both Sea Shepherd and endangered bluefin tuna.

The Supreme Court's ruling, which is binding and cannot be appealed, holds that Sea Shepherd UK is not liable to Maltese fishing company Fish & Fish Ltd., and that consequently Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson are not subject to English jurisdiction. The Court also restored an order that Sea Shepherd should receive £190,000 (approximately $290,000 USD) in respect of its legal costs in the Commercial Court within 14 days. Sea Shepherd's attorneys will be arguing that further legal costs exceeding £400,000 (approximately $610,000 USD) as well as a bond of some $800,000 USD should ultimately be returned to Sea Shepherd, and they will continue to pursue that matter. Wednesday’s victory comes after years of litigation that began in 2011.

In June 2010, the crew of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Blue Rage campaign freed approximately 800 bluefin tuna from the nets of a fishing operation in Libyan waters. The endangered fish were destined for a fish farm in Malta.

Sea Shepherd has always been clear in its view that the fish were illegally caught because the fish were obtained after the closing date of the fishing season; many of the fish in the pen were undersized juveniles; the fishing vessel did not have an inspector on board; and the captain refused to show Sea Shepherd any paperwork on the catch. As a result, Sea Shepherd sent divers into the water, who cut the nets and freed the hundreds of fish back to the open sea.

Steve Irwin investigates fishing boats and tuna farmSteve Irwin investigates fishing boats and tuna farm
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga

Steve Irwin investigates fishing boats and tuna farmSteve Irwin investigates fishing boats and tuna farm
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga

In July 2011, when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin was in Scotland preparing to depart for the Faroe Islands, the Scottish Court imposed a bond on the ship of £520,000 (approximately $790,000 USD) as surety, pending the outcome of the lawsuit brought by Fish & Fish Ltd. against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sea Shepherd UK and Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. In 2012, the court ruled in Sea Shepherd’s favor, but the decision was appealed in 2013.

The case was then heard by the UK Supreme Court in December 2014, and with Wednesday’s decision, the higher court has upheld the lower court’s ruling. Sea Shepherd applauds this binding decision from the court. As bluefin tuna are pushed further and further toward extinction, it is critical that illegal operations are not allowed to plunder the seas of these vital apex predators.

“This has been a long and tedious court battle but we have prevailed and this is a great victory for the bluefin tuna and against the poachers who are diminishing their numbers,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson.

Sea Shepherd will continue to defend the oceans and the many imperiled species within from the deadly grasp of illegal fishing.

Watch the reading of the UK Supreme Court’s decision:

Operation Blue Rage
Visit our
Operation Blue Rage
site for more information.

Mar 04, 2015

Court Victory for the Bluefin Tuna and Sea Shepherd

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

A diver cuts one of the tuna netsA diver cuts one of the tuna nets
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
Back on June 17, 2010, Sea Shepherd’s Operation Blue Rage intercepted an illegal bluefin tuna operation off the coast of Libya, two days after the closing of the bluefin fishing season.

We investigated the catch and found hundreds of undersized bluefin tuna. When we asked to see the papers, the fishermen refused. When we asked to speak with the official observer onboard, we were told there was no observer. A few minutes later we were told there was an observer, and a man came on the radio and identified himself as the “official observer.” We asked for his name and authorization; he refused to provide it.

We had no doubts that this was a criminal operation:

  • The fish were obtained after the closing date of the fishing season
  • Many of the fish within the pen were juveniles
  • The fishing vessel did not have an inspector onboard
  • The captain refused to show us any paperwork on the catch
  • The fishermen were dishonest regarding where they had obtained the fish


We made the determination that the fish in the net had been caught illegally and we sent divers into the water to cut the net and to release some 800 bluefin tuna.

In July 2011, just over a year later, when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin was in Scotland preparing to depart for the Faroe Islands, the Scottish Court imposed a bond on my ship of 530,000 pounds Sterling as surety pending the outcome of a lawsuit by the Maltese fishing company, Fish and Fish.

On June 25, 2012, Sea Shepherd won the case when the court ruled against Fish and Fish. Our bond was ordered returned and our legal fees ordered to be paid by Fish and Fish.

A diver cuts the tuna netsA diver cuts one of the tuna nets
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
John Refalo, legal counsel to Fish and Fish, told the media that the court loss was a setback, but said that the case would not stop there.

"This was a preliminary ruling, and we are currently filing for permission to appeal - something that is not granted automatically in the British system," he told Malta Today.

Refalo said the case was dismissed only on a technicality: a previous attempt to sue Paul Watson (a Canadian citizen) in the United States had similarly been overturned on the grounds that the Steve Irwin was registered in the UK.

"One way or another we will get him," Refalo added. "It will just take more money..."

And so they threw more money into the case and on December 8, 2014, the Appeals Court did reverse the lower court’s decision.

I also did an interview with Malta Today back then:

In comments to Malta Today, Paul Watson echoes Refalo's view that the case against Sea Shepherd would cost Fish & Fish more money - but the outcome, he adds, will not be what the tuna ranchers expect.

"Fish and Fish misjudged us," he said when contacted this week. "They had our ship seized in Scotland using the Scottish legal system. They were quite surprised when we raised the bond of ₤532,000 (€677,000) within 10 days. They were further surprised that we secured the best admiralty law firm in London to represent us. And they were quite surprised that they lost."

Watson insists that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is always prepared to fight for its cause: not just on the water but also in the courtroom.

"If they decide to appeal, we will fight them on the appeal and a review of the case indicates any attempt to appeal will simply cost them more money and they will not overturn the verdict."

Steve Irwin and delta in action with the fishing boat RosariaSteve Irwin and delta in action
with the fishing boat Rosaria
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga
Fish and Fish appealed, and in May 2013, the British Court of Appeals accepted their case.

The case was heard by the British Supreme Court in November 2014.

Now today, this case is resolved. The Supreme Court has made their decision. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has prevailed and Fish and Fish has lost and is now responsible for paying Sea Shepherd’s legal fees which are estimated to be around $250,000 USD. In addition Sea Shepherd will have the bond of some $800,000 USD returned.

This is the final judgment. There can be no further appeals.

This has been a long and tedious court case but we have prevailed and this is a great victory for the bluefin tuna and against those poachers who are diminishing their numbers.

Sea Shepherd will continue its campaigns to defend the bluefin tuna from poachers like Fish and Fish.

Watch the video of the British Supreme Court Decision in the video below.

Operation Blue Rage
Visit our
Operation Blue Rage
site for more information.