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Sea Shepherd

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

May 20, 2015

An Amazingly Wonderful Development for the Dolphins of Taiji

JAZA Cuts Ties with the Dolphin Killers of Taiji

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd has been opposing the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji since 2003 in a campaign called Operation Infinite Patience.

Finally today that infinite patience has paid off.

The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) has voted to no longer purchase dolphins from the killers of Taiji.

Last month, JAZA was given a choice by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to either stop purchasing dolphins from Taiji or be permanently suspended from WAZA.

JAZA made the decision to stay with WAZA.

After years of pressure from Sea Shepherd, Dolphin Project, Earth Island Institute and others, WAZA ruled that the Taiji hunt is "cruel," and made the decision that none of its members can purchase dolphins from the dolphin butchers of Taiji.

In a letter to WAZA, the Japanese group, which comprises 89 zoos and 63 aquariums, said it would abide by WAZA's decision.

"It is our wish at JAZA to remain as a member of WAZA," chair Kazutoshi Arai said in a letter addressed to WAZA President Lee Ehmke.

This is a landmark decision by JAZA. Will it end the slaughter? We do not know yet. But what it will do is undermine the market for dolphins captured in Taiji. The captures are where the money is. Killing dolphins for meat alone cannot sustain the dolphin drive. This is a significant blow to the butchers of Taiji and wonderful news for the dolphins in the waters around Japan.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will continue to monitor Taiji to see what happens next season. Taiji will remain under the international spotlight until the killing is permanently ended.

JAZA has voted to stop buying dolphins captured in Taiji and remain a member of WAZAJAZA has voted to stop buying dolphins captured in Taiji and remain a member of WAZA
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will continue to monitor the hunt in Taiji Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will continue to monitor the hunt in Taiji
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Cove Guardians
Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.

May 20, 2015

JAZA Votes to Stop Buying Dolphins Captured in Taiji

JAZA members have voted to stop buying dolphins captured in Taiji’s brutal and infamous drive huntJAZA members have voted to stop buying dolphins captured in Taiji’s brutal and infamous drive hunt
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On Wednesday May 20 (Japan time), the Japanese Association of Zoos & Aquariums (JAZA), following a poll of its member aquariums and parks, announced its decision to stop buying dolphins captured in Taiji’s brutal and infamous drive hunt.

With this decision, JAZA will remain a member of the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA), which prohibits its members from acquiring cetaceans captured in Taiji. Of the 142 votes collected from JAZA members, a staggering 99 voted to stay with WAZA.

While not yet an end to the drive hunt, this announcement brings great news for the dolphins in Taiji, because the captive trade represents the true money behind the slaughter that turns the waters of the cove red with blood. With the elimination of the demand for Taiji dolphins from Japanese aquariums, Taiji’s hunt is one huge step closer to being sunk economically.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society first exposed Taiji’s brutal hunt in 2003, releasing shocking undercover photographs and footage of a blood red cove and skiffs piled high with dead dolphins seen around the globe. Beginning in 2010, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians took up stations along the shores of the cove daily throughout the entire six-month hunt season and have done so every season since as part of the annual Operation Infinite Patience campaign, acting as ocean sentinels and documenting and live streaming every capture and every slaughter for the world to see.

Time and time again, Sea Shepherd has documented the inextricable link between captivity and the slaughter. Despite claims from Taiji, the dolphin killers and dolphin trainers regularly work side-by-side to choose the “prettiest” dolphins (those without visible scars) to be sold for captivity, while other members of the pods are simultaneously slaughtered. These highly intelligent, socially complex marine mammals are forced to witness their family members killed before their very eyes and swim in the blood of their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

JAZA’s decision will significantly decrease the demand for dolphins captured in Taiji, and it is Sea Shepherd’s hope that other aquariums and marine parks around the world will follow suit and stop buying these dolphins captured from their ocean home so brutally.

Global outcry in response to the brutal nature of Taiji’s massacre of ocean wildlife is what has brought about these steps from both WAZA and JAZA. Sea Shepherd has maintained that it is gaiatsu, or external pressure, that will end the slaughter in Taiji, not pressure from within Japan.

Sea Shepherd wishes to extend thanks to our celebrity Cove Guardians, Shannen Doherty and Simone Reyes, who helped to shine a bright, international spotlight on this important issue. We also celebrate today’s news in honor of the late Sam Simon, whom we are sure would have been overjoyed for the dolphins he loved so dearly, and for whom he traveled to Taiji in 2014 despite his battle with terminal cancer.

Finally, Sea Shepherd wishes to thank every Cove Guardian who has stood with us for the dolphins in Taiji, bearing witness to these atrocities committed against the world’s wild, migrating dolphins in Japan’s waters. We thank you for your compassion, selflessness and your Infinite Patience that has helped make this day possible. Sea Shepherd also wishes to thank our Senior Cove Guardian Leader Melissa Sehgal who, with her unwavering dedication to this campaign, has led and inspired our team on the ground for four seasons and helped to bring about massive awareness, which undoubtedly has led to this significant change. Sea Shepherd will continue to monitor the hunt in Taiji until the slaughter is brought to a permanent end. We hope that you will continue to stand with us and, most importantly, with the dolphins.

Cove Guardians
Visit our
Cove Guardians
site for more information.

May 19, 2015

Sea Shepherd – When the Services of Good Pirates are Required

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

editorial-150519-1-jolly-roger-400x300When the services of good pirates are required, who you gonna call?

At last, an article that recognizes Sea Shepherd’s role in a world where the majority of the earth’s surface lies in a state of anarchy and lawlessness. Read more: The conundrum of the Patagonian toothfish.

Since 1977, Sea Shepherd has been protecting marine life from ruthless and illegal exploitation.

Yes, Sea Shepherds are considered pirates by their enemies, much the same as when Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh were considered pirates by the Spanish, yet lionized by the British.

Of course there are obstacles and problems to overcome. Even the great Lord Horatio Nelson was blocked by judges, merchants, and government bureaucrats when he tried to interfere with profiteering pirates in the Caribbean.

I’ve always viewed Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as the “Ladies of the Night” of the conservation movement. Many people secretly agree with and can even admire Sea Shepherd in the dark of the night but would prefer to not be seen with Sea Shepherd in the light of day.

Today that is especially true of politicians. Jean Michelle Cousteau once told a friend of mine, “I like Sea Shepherd, but how can I be expected to talk with Presidents and Prime Ministers if they think I support Sea Shepherd?”

Many years ago when our enemies began calling us pirates I responded by creating our own version of the Jolly Roger. We were not ashamed of being called pirates. Pirates get things done and tend to skirt the paperwork and the red tape.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, pirates attacked and boarded slavers and freed Africans from their shackles. Freed slaves were allowed to join pirate crews and could rise in the ranks based on their abilities. There was no other enterprise in the world at the time that allowed that sort of equality. Pirate ships were run as democracies, and their captains were elected in an era when captains of merchant and military ships were ruthless dictators.

Were they thieves? Is it theft to take gold from thieves? Sometimes we forget that the Spanish galleons attacked by the pirates were not very innocent; the gold they carried in their holds had been stolen from the Meso-American Indians whom they had murdered.

Today, who are the real pirates of Somalia? The impoverished fishermen driven to rob ships out of desperation because the pirate fishing fleets of Europe and Asia have looted Somalian waters of all their fish?

Many pirates of old were rewarded for their efforts. Aside from Drake and Raleigh, Henry Morgan was knighted and given the governorship of Jamaica. The French pirate Jean LaFitte became an American hero, as did John Paul Jones, the founder of the American Navy who had been condemned by the British as a pirate. The French pirate Robert Surcouf was awarded the Legion of Honour by Napoleon.

Which all goes to prove that pirates are good or bad depending on your point of view and your vested interests.

Sea Shepherd crews cannot legally be defined as pirates. The plain simple fact is that if they were, Sea Shepherd vessels would not be given the right to berth in world ports or to fly the flags of the nations where the ships are registered. Sea Shepherd’s “Jolly Roger” is a flag of a movement, not a flag of registration or a symbol of lack of registration.

The Thunder was legally a pirate vessel because she had been stripped of her flag by Nigeria. A pirate ship by definition today is a ship without a flag. Sea Shepherd ships have always flown legitimate flags and have always abided by the regulations of their flag states. Presently, Sea Shepherd ships are officially registered under the flags of the Netherlands, Australia, the USA and Great Britain. Sea Shepherd vessels also fly their own Jolly Roger and the flags of the Five Nations (Iroquois), the Aboriginal and Maori flags given in recognition of Sea Shepherd’s work to protect wildlife and the environment.

That work makes a difference. Sea Shepherd stops poachers where there is a lack of enforcement against poachers, rescues marine wildlife from illegal exploitation, and investigates and documents illegal activities. Sea Shepherd partners with the police and with government rangers where and when possible. And Sea Shepherd educates and empowers volunteers with the understanding that each and every individual has the ability to make a difference.

Sea Shepherd expects to be unpopular and to be criticized for the simple reason that Sea Shepherd says things people do not wish to hear, does things that some people would rather not be done, and tends to embarrass some governments, and cost many powerful interests a great deal in profit losses.

Sea Shepherd’s confrontations are not restricted to the high seas, but to wherever Sea Shepherd must fight for its clients (biodiversity and endangered species in the Ocean), including in the courts and in the forums of world opinion in the media.

Our efforts to save bluefin tuna off the coast of Libya in 2010 landed Sea Shepherd UK, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and myself in court in Britain when the poachers charged us for the loss of profits for the 800+ tuna we liberated from their nets. We won in the courts and the tuna poachers had to pay our court costs.

SSCS is presently fighting the Japanese whalers in the courts with precedent-setting arguments that could have profound legal implications.

But most importantly pirate crews of passionate Sea Shepherd volunteers are presently on the beaches of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cape Verde and Florida saving the lives of turtles. Captain Oona Layolle from France is presently under sail in the Sea of Cortez defending the endangered vaquita. Captains Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, Sid Chakravarty of India and Adam Meyerson of the USA are working on opposing illegal fishing off Africa, in the South Pacific and in the North Atlantic. Captain Alex Cornelissen is organizing a plan to save the lives of pilot whales in the North Atlantic. Sea Shepherd volunteers are defending seals in Scotland and Finland and opposing poachers in the Galapagos Islands.

Sea Shepherd pirates are the first pirates of compassion that the world has ever known – pirates without profiteering, driven into action by a sense of urgency that if we don’t act to defend life in the oceans, who will?

Most people I meet on the street, from students to lawyers, from artists to policemen, voice their support for Sea Shepherd’s efforts.

On occasion when someone angrily calls me out as a “pirate,” I smile and respond, “You’re damn right I’m a pirate, and I’m damn proud of it.” And on occasion when they call me an “eco-terrorist,” I smile once again and respond, “No I’m not an eco-terrorist; I’ve never worked for Monsanto or Shell.”

May 16, 2015

New “Recruits” Join Sea Shepherd’s K-9 Unit In The Galapagos

One of the new recruits receiving a present for correctly identifying the containerOne of the new recruits receives a present for correctly identifying the container
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The 16th of April was a milestone day for the cooperative work between the Ecuadorian Environmental Police and Sea Shepherd, for it celebrated the training of the newest dog guides and wildlife-sniffing dogs in the K9 unit, which successfully detects shark fins, sea cucumbers and other wildlife being illegally trafficked out of the Galapagos Islands.

The dogs were brought to the Galapagos from Holland by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (“Sea Shepherd”) and donated to the police to help detect environmental crime, which worldwide is an ever increasing and very serious problem.

Sea Shepherd received a formal invitation to the celebration, which was carried out on the grounds of the Regional Center for Dog Training in Quito.

Two high-ranking officials were present: General Edmundo Moncayo, National Director of the Anti-Narcotics Office, and Colonel Freddy Ramos, the Sub-Director, who presided over the celebration accompanied by the chiefs of the Environmental Police and the Training Center.

General Moncayo expressed his thanks to Sea Shepherd for its help in working with the National Police and the section of the Environmental Police, the only unit of its kind in the country.

Sea Shepherd representative Godfrey Merlen was present and gave a talk on the issues and threats generated by environmental crime both in the Galapagos Islands and around the world. He also praised the Environmental Unit for its work, and the Ecuadorian police force in general for its support of this valuable innovation. He was also asked to help present certificates of competence to the dedicated dog handlers.

After the formal presentations, and in more casual conversation, Godfrey was asked if attendees would like to see the new dogs in action. This offer was enthusiastically accepted, and the canine environmental officers gave an impressive show of the dogs’ ability to detect the exact location of selected objects.

This concluded a pleasant and successful celebration.

Sea Shepherd thanks these amazing canines for their contribution to the conservation of the Galapagos Islands and the world’s remarkable bio-diversity and ecosystems.

The newly trained dog guidesThe newly trained dog guides
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd representative Dr. Godfrey Merlen gives a speech to the policeSea Shepherd representative Dr. Godfrey Merlen gives a speech to the police
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Visit our
Sea Shepherd Galapagos
site for more information.
Sea Shepherd Galapagos

May 14, 2015

There May be Hope for Japanese Dolphins Soon

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Ribs and other bones are clearly visible on an underweight captive bottlenose dolphin at Taiji’s Dolphin BaseRibs and other bones are clearly visible on an underweight captive bottlenose dolphin at Taiji’s Dolphin Base
Photo: Sea Shepherd
May 21st Could Mark the Beginning of the End for the Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji.

Within a week, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) must decide if they wish to remain a member of the World Associationof Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) or instead to continue to do business with the barbaric dolphin slayers of Taiji.

The deadline for this decision is May 21st.

If the 152 Japanese members of JAZA vote to keep doing business with Taiji they will be effectively isolated from the entire international community of Zoos and Aquariums.

Of these 152 members of JAZA, 30 aquariums are holding and displaying 250 dolphins. The Japanese Aquariums purchase an average of 20 dolphins each year at prices between $150K and $250K.

If they vote to remain in WAZA they will need to cancel all further purchases of dolphins and that may well be the end of the horrific annual massacre of dolphins.

A spokesperson for JAZA said the Japanese organization is both shocked and bewildered by this suspension.

JAZA Secretary-General Naonori Okada said, “The capturing of dolphins for food and for aquariums have been separated, and we have asked fishermen to set aside a period during which dolphins are caught only for aquariums,” he said. “We have also asked them not to chase a big group to avoid panic, and not to chase them too persistently.”

Okada may very well have told the Taiji fishermen just that, but it’s quite apparent that the Taiji fishermen never took it very seriously.

The reason for the suspension is that WAZA is stating that JAZA has violated the WAZA code of ethics and animal welfare. Having dolphins being captured by men who viciously slaughter dolphins is a violation no matter if they chase them less persistently or even if they chase them separately from the dolphins they kill for meat.

What JAZA does not seem to understand is that without the lucrative sales of the dolphins for aquarium display there would be no real financial motivation to kill just for the meat. The meat kill is just an added profit, but by itself would not sustain the practice.

JAZA is responsible for the slaughter by supporting the captures with their purchases.

In response to the WAZA decision to suspend JAZA, the governor of Wakayama Prefecture on Wednesday slammed the country’s suspension from the global association of zoos as"unwarranted foreign coercion."

Governor YoshinobuNisaka said the recent decision by the Swiss-based World Association of Zoos and Aquariums to suspend Japan’s membership was “bullying, from all over the world.”

In other words the Governor views any criticism of the slaughter and enslavement of dolphins as “bullying” by everyone against poor little Japan as if they have been singled out for discrimination for no other reason other than being Japanese.

This is not inconsistent with past criticisms of the abuse of Korean comfort women and the slaughter of millions of Chinese people as “bullying” and insensitive to Japanese culture.

At a press conference in Japan, the governor said most of the creatures on display at aquariums were captured from the wild, and that there would be a sharp drop if only those bred in captivity could be shown.

In my opinion that would be a very positive consequence.

According to Okada, WAZA did not take issue with the use of dolphins from Taiji for years, though it proposed methods to capture them more humanely. But WAZA recently hardened its stance and around 2014 it started asking JAZA to cease obtaining animals from Taiji,

Sea Shepherd along with the Dolphin Project, Earth Island and many other groups have been pressuring WAZA for years to take action. WAZA has been sandwiched between the pro-dolphin killing JAZA and the anti-dolphin killing rest of the world. Finally thanks to the persistence of all those campaigning against the Taiji kill for years, WAZA finally decided to get firm with JAZA.

Zoos and aquariums around the world are on the defensive over the captivity of wild animals and the bloody slaughter and abject cruelty of the Taiji dolphin drive was causing the public to be critical of the captivity industry worldwide. SeaWorld for example has enough problems dealing with the movie Blackfish; they certainly do not need nor want to be the link to Taiji, and WAZA has been that unwanted link.

In another week we will know if Japan decides to sulk and isolate themselves by continuing to support the butchers of Taiji or if they wish to remain connected to their colleagues in the rest of the international community.

May 14, 2015

"We Want to Save the Whales But Not in the Way You Want to Save the Whales"

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Fin whaleFin whale
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Oktay Kaya
Way back in 1975, when I first ventured onto the waves to defend whales with the first Greenpeace campaign Project Ahab, we succeeded in bringing the issue of commercial whaling to the attention of the world. Our tactic was very simple. Block the harpoons with our own body. It was a non-violent tactic yet still it provoked ire from mainstream whale lovers who claimed we were going too far, the tactics were too radical, that we would alienate decision makers etc., etc.

I remember Joan McIntyre of Project Jonah in 1975 berating us for our tactics. When I mentioned to her we were on the same side and asked if she wanted to save the whales, her reply was and I quote, “Yes, I want to save the whales but not your way.”

Joan’s idea of saving whales was writing books and songs, collecting petitions and organizing children to demonstrate. All very good tactics of course but in her book, these were the only acceptable tactics.

None of her tactics made international news. Ours did and therein lies the difference.

Throughout Sea Shepherd’s almost 40-year history we have never launched a campaign without some people denouncing it and telling us we were going about it the wrong way which usually translates into we’re not going about it their way.

Sea Shepherd has not announced any plans to go to Iceland this summer to oppose their illegal slaughter of Fin whales.

But with Sea Shepherd ships in Germany and the announcement to return to the Faroes this summer, the Icelanders are feeling nervous.

And thus I received a letter Monday from ICEWHALE (The Icelandic Whale Watching Association), an organization that states they are working closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to oppose whaling in Iceland.

Sea Shepherd goes where the whales need us so I guess they assume that Sea Shepherd will soon be heading to Iceland.

I do support any efforts in Iceland to stop whaling so I do not view the Icelandic Whale Watching Association or IFAW as our enemies. I believe they are sincere about wanting to end whaling in Iceland.

But contrary to what this letter is saying, progress is not being made and whale kills are increasing, not decreasing, especially endangered Fin whales.

The Letter and my comments:

Mr. Paul Watson Sea Shepherd

Dear Mr. Watson,

Reykjavik, 11 May 2015

Gísli Ólafsson
: IceWhale, the Icelandic Whale Watching Association, composed of all the major whale watching companies operating in Icelandic waters, was founded in 1999 and has from its inception endeavoured to guide government, the tourist industry and the public towards a greater understanding of the inherent value and beauty of living whales. This has led to the Icelandic Travel Industry Association giving our mission their undivided support.

Captain Paul Watson: This is laudable work and Sea Shepherd supports such efforts 100%.

Gísli Ólafsson
: Since 2003 we have worked closely with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) on a successful campaign to reduce demand for whale meat in Iceland. From 2009 to 2014, the percentage of foreign tourists who eat whale meat in Iceland has halved. As a result, of the 229 minke whales sanctioned for whaling in 2014 by the Minister of Fisheries, only 24 were hunted.

Captain Paul Watson: With the whalers focused on the more valuable and endangered Fin whales, there may be another reason for the reduction in Minke whale kills. The fact is that consumption of whale meat in Iceland is small compared to the real market, which is Japan. Exports to Japan have increased significantly and have proven to be more lucrative than local consumption.

Gísli Ólafsson
: Huge changes have also been observed in the attitudes of politicians and political parties during the last decade. Last December, the Reykjavik City Council unanimously voted for whale hunting to make way for whale watching in Faxaflói Bay.

Captain Paul Watson: Good stuff and Sea Shepherd applauds such efforts. We absolutely support and endorse diversity of approaches.

Gísli Ólafsson
: Opinion polls by Gallup have shown that more and more Icelanders have doubts about or are opposed to whale hunting. For instance, fewer than half of all Icelanders supported Hvalur hf’s hunting of fin whales, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2013.

Captain Paul Watson: Unfortunately these numbers have not been translated into political action.

Gísli Ólafsson
: Given the good progress and constant improvements regarding the position of whales in Icelandic waters, IceWhale urges Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) to reconsider its plans of coming to Iceland with the goal of disrupting whale hunting this summer. IceWhale believes that such actions run the risk of having exactly the opposite of the intended effect. The possible conflict is likely to stir up old ghosts from 1986 when SSCS claimed responsibility for acts of sabotage on whale hunting boats and the whaling station in Hvalfjörður. Contrary to its intended effect, those events only served to stiffen the Icelandic resolve to continue whale hunting.

Captain Paul Watson: SSCS is a separate legal entity from other Sea Shepherd organizations worldwide. SSCS does not have any plans that need re-considering. SSCS has not announced any plans to go to Icelandic waters.

Whales were killed up until 1986. In 1985, I took my ship the Sea Shepherd II to Iceland where it was made clear to us that Iceland had no intention of abiding by the moratorium on commercial whaling. Half the Icelandic whaling fleet was sunk in November 1986. No whales were taken from the time of the sinking until 2006. Twenty years of no whaling followed that action. The whale kills have risen steadily ever since 2006 dictated primarily by demand from Japan. One correction: Sea Shepherd never “claimed” to have sunk the ships. Sea Shepherd did sink those ships. Although I made myself available to Icelandic authorities in January 1988, no charges were ever laid against myself or any other Sea Shepherd crew. In other words no crime was committed although crimes by Icelandic whalers were prevented. You may believe that the action stiffened resolve to continue whale hunting but you are in error, considering it took two decades before whaling resumed, not due to the nationalistic resolve of Icelanders, but because of the greed of Kristján Loftsson.

Gísli Ólafsson
: It is imperative that SSCS respects the fact that much progress has been made in Iceland over the years with the aim of achieving a positive solution. SSCS operations in Iceland at this point of time will only harm all the work that has been done so far to change attitudes in Iceland and is more likely to incite nationalist tendencies and once again encourage domestic support for whale hunting.

Captain Paul Watson: We have not seen progress. What we have seen is rising kills especially of endangered Fin whales.

Gísli Ólafsson
: We find it hard to believe, Mr Watson, that you and your organisation have any intention of embarking on a course of action that could lead to the death of more whales or prolong the unnecessary commercial whale hunting that has taken place in recent years. Therefore we urge Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to refrain from coming to Iceland this coming summer or next year, thereby giving IceWhale and Iceland further opportunity to adapt to the changing demands of our own society and to build on the good progress that has been made so far.

Yours sincerely,

Gísli Ólafsson

Chairman of IceWhale - The Icelandic Whale Watching Association

Captain Paul Watson: Sea Shepherd activities worldwide have saved many thousands of whales from the harpoons. Sea Shepherd has not prolonged whaling. Whaling continues because of the illegal actions by Icelanders. Many people find it hard to believe that we do what we do and that is because they believe we are concerned for the opinions of humans. Sea Shepherd’s clients are the whales – not people. Sea Shepherd represents the interests of the whales and their primary interest is not to be killed.

The whales in the North Atlantic do not belong to Iceland, Norway or Denmark. They don’t belong to anyone but to themselves. Sea Shepherd has no intention of interfering with Iceland. Sea Shepherd’s mission is not anti-Icelandic. It is pro whale. It matters not whether the whales are killed by Icelanders or Japanese. Sea Shepherd goes where the killing takes place. Sea Shepherd blocks the harpoons no matter the nationality of the harpooner. Should Sea Shepherd tolerate killing and the increase in killing simply because some Icelanders will get all nationalistic over their perverse “right” to kill whales?

Finally I will say that there are no plans as yet to come to Icelandic waters this summer. As announced yesterday, Sea Shepherd will be in Faroese waters. Sea Shepherd may scout out the situation in Icelandic waters this summer and individual Sea Shepherd organizations will formulate plans based on what they observe and the advice of their individual scientific and legal advisory boards. As always Sea Shepherd will act in accordance with the needs of the whales. As always, Sea Shepherd’s actions will be non-violent. Our intent is to always work within the boundaries of practicality and the law.

May 12, 2015

Sea Shepherd Announces Operation Sleppid Grindini

Faroe Islands Pilot Whale Defense Campaign, 2015 – Calls For Onshore Volunteers

Operation Sleppid GrindiniSea Shepherd announces its 2015 Faroe Islands pilot whale defense campaign, Operation Sleppid Grindini. From June 14 until October, Sea Shepherd crewmembers from around the world will return to the Danish Faroe Islands to once again halt the mass slaughter of long-finned pilot whales and other small cetaceans in the region.

The campaign marks the commencement of Sea Shepherd's increased presence in the North Atlantic, where the organization will use its Southern Ocean successes to combat the continuing, unnecessary slaughter of cetaceans.

For hundreds of years the people of the Faroe Islands have been herding migrating pilot whales from the sea into shallow water and slaughtering them. The slaughter, known by the Faroese term 'grindadráp' or 'grind', is a brutal and bloody tradition that wipes-out entire family groups of whales and dolphins at one time.

After being driven into inlets (fjords), distressed whales beach themselves or are dragged to shore by their blowholes with gaff hooks (blásturkrókur). A spinal lance is then used to cut the whale's spine as they lie dying next to family members.

Slaughtered pilot whales line the docs in the bloody aftermath of a grind. Photo: Peter HammarstedtSlaughtered pilot whales line the docs in the bloody aftermath of a grind.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Peter Hammarstedt
Some pilot whales suffer for as much as 30 seconds while others can take up to four minutes to die. For these animals, whose intimate family relationships and capacity to suffer is well documented, the grindadráp delivers a lengthy, harrowing and traumatic death.

Sea Shepherd takes its 2015 Faroe Islands campaign name from the Faroese term, “sleppid grindini.” Literally meaning “set the whales free,” the term is the traditional order used by the grind foreman to call off a whale hunt.

Operation Sleppid Grindini campaign leader and CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen, said, “This year, again, our crews will do everything legally possible to ensure that the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands are set free. Sea Shepherd's intervention in the grind is not aimed to impose our values on the Faroese people. It is part of a global movement that is driven by the passion to protect these pilot whales and all of the precious life in our oceans.”

Operation Sleppid Grindini will be Sea Shepherd's sixth campaign in the Faroe Islands, and will be led by the organization's strongest sea presence in the region to date.

The Bob Barker makes its maiden voyage to the Faroe Islands for Operation Sleppid Grindini. Photo: Simon AgerThe Bob Barker makes its maiden voyage to the Faroe Islands for Operation Sleppid Grindini.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
Following their return from the epic Southern Ocean campaign, Operation Icefish, the Sea Shepherd ships Bob Barker and Sam Simon will be joined by Sea Shepherd's fast trimaran, the Brigitte Bardot in the steely waters of the Faroe Islands.

The ships will be supported by a land team, led by Rosie Kunneke of South Africa, that will assist with coordination and providing information through what are some of the bloodiest months of the slaughter.

Kunneke said, “The practices undertaken during the grind, in which pilot whales and dolphins have to endure hours of cruel and stressful driving towards shore before being slaughtered in the presence of family members, would not be tolerated in any slaughterhouse in the developed world. With the introduction of modern conveniences and trade, and the safety warnings against pilot whale meat consumption, the people of the Faroe Islands no longer require whale meat for sustenance. It is time that we progress beyond this unnecessary, excessive and redundant cruelty and set the whales free, for good.”

Call for Volunteers: Set the Whales of the Faroe Islands Free!

Sea Shepherd is now accepting applications for dedicated and passionate volunteers to assist with the onshore operations for Operation Sleppid Grindin.

We are seeking volunteers who are:

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Are able to commit to participating in the campaign for at least three weeks, (from June 14 until October).

Applicants must be responsible for all of their own travel costs to the Islands as well as their food. Accommodation expenses on the Faroe Islands will be covered.

Volunteer ApplicationApply now!

For further information, please email:

The Sam Simon  returns from Operation Icefish, bringing its Southern Ocean successes to the Faroe Islands. Photo: Marianna BaldoThe Sam Simon returns from Operation Icefish, bringing its Southern Ocean successes to the Faroe Islands.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Marianna Baldo
The Brigitte Bardot returns to the Faroe Islands in 2015. Photo: Sea Shepherd GlobalThe Brigitte Bardot returns to the Faroe Islands in 2015.
Photo: Sea Shepherd Global

May 07, 2015

Off to Court We Go – Again!

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

The United States Supreme CourtThe United States Supreme Court
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The battle to save life and diversity in our Ocean carries on in the courtrooms and upon the high seas.

Sea Shepherd USA complied with a federal injunction and Federal Appeals Court. Commissioner Peter Shaw rendered a decision that Sea Shepherd, its directors and myself were not guilty of violating the injunction after more than a week of hearing and reviewing witnesses; that was in February 2014. A year later, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court reversed Commissioner Shaw's decision, just as they reversed Seattle Judge Richard Jones' decision to not grant Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research the injunction. Judge Jones cited the fact that the Japanese whalers had unclean hands because they were in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order barring whaling by Japanese ships within the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory.

In 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japanese "scientific" whaling in the Southern Ocean under JARPA II was not legal. This year, the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission rejected Japan's new "revised scientific whaling" proposal on the grounds that it was essentially the same thing that the ICJ had already condemned.

It seems that the only friends that the Japanese whalers have is the 9th Circuit U.S. Federal Court.

Sea Shepherd is now filing a petition to the United States Supreme Court to challenge the decision by the 9th Circuit Panel.

What the 9th Circuit has done is to set a dangerous precedent that could impact every American NGO and corporation. The ruling says that any non-American can challenge the activities of a U.S. company that is associated with activities by a foreign business partner outside the United States.

The injunction was issued in December 2012 against Sea Shepherd USA and Sea Shepherd USA complied with the court order. The 9th Circuit is stating that Sea Shepherd USA should have stopped Sea Shepherd Australia from interfering with illegal Japanese whaling operations. What the court rejected is Sea Shepherd USA's position that Sea Shepherd USA does not have any control over the actions of Sea Shepherd Australia using Dutch-registered ships with non-American officers in the waters of Australia.

The struggle for justice for the whales of the Southern Ocean continues.