We mean business: The story of the Farley Mowatt Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 August 2007 00:00

We mean business: The story of the Farley Mowatt

By Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch, Royal Gazette, 23 Aug 2007

The Farley Mowatt, anchored in Hamilton Harbour over the weekend. The Sea Shepherd owned boat features a steel reinforced bow to ram illegal whalers and sealers.
Photo Glenn Tucker

The imposing black vessel in the harbour just finished an 11,500 mile voyage to save marine wildlife around the world.

The Farley Mowat's voyage began in Melbourne with stops at Pitcairn Island and the Galapagos before travelling through the Panama Canal before arriving in Bermuda on August 18.

The ship is owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and run by a dedicated and friendly crew of environmentalists.

The SSCS was started in 1979 by Paul Watson, who was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, and now holds the position of Captain on the Society's vessels.

This month it is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since then it has completed 160 voyages and sunk eight whaling ships. And they have managed to do all this without harming anyone.

The SSCS is known for its stance of taking action against people breaking international conservation laws, instead of bearing witness to animal slaughters like other environmental groups. It has made international headlines for ramming into whaling vessels in the Antarctic, blocking ships from harming seals off of Canada and destroying longline fishing equipment off of Galapagos Islands — among other things.

And the ship itself means business. Painted an intimidating black and flying a flag which looks eerily like the Jolly Roger the Farley Mowat has a steel reinforced hull and water cannons pointing off its bow and the aft helicopter pad.

While at sea the ship's crew has also been known to erect a seven-foot long "can opener" off its bow out of steal beams.

Capt. Watson said: "I know that Sea Shepherd is sometimes called radical although we are actually a very conservative organisation. We are not a protest group. We intervene against illegal activities.

"Presently we are in a working partnership with the Ecuadorian National Police and the Galapagos National Park. Last month we arrested a dozen shark fin smugglers, exposed the names and connections of the shark fin mafia in Ecuador and seized more than 40,000 illegal shark fins."

The Farley Mowat is currently berthed in Hamilton Harbour while it awaits a place in Dockyard. While it is here it will prepare for campaigns in the North Atlantic to oppose illegal bottom trawling in the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap and to intervene against the Canadian seal hunt.

Capt. Watson said he was glad to be back on the Island: " We have been visiting Bermuda since March 1979 when our first ship Sea Shepherd departed from Bermuda to hunt down the pirate whaling ship Sierra. Our ship Whales Forever stopped in Bermuda in 1994 and this ship the Farley Mowat was last in Bermuda in December 2004 and again in May and June 2005."

The organisation is based in Washington and does not spend any money on fundraising, instead it relies on donations. Some of its celebrity supporters include Pierce Brosnan and Christian Bale.

The ship will be in Bermuda until February, anyone interested in donating money, time or equipment to the Farley Mowat should visit the website www.seashepherd.org.

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