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Editions

Popular ship visits Docklands

01 Oct 2013

Popular ship visits Docklands Image

Thousands of people visited Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin and Bob Barker last month in Docklands.

The ships were docked at NewQuay for almost two weeks and offered free tours, giving visitors the opportunity to gain insight into the work of the marine conservation organisation.

Unlike other conservation bodies, Sea Shepherd is a direct action group, meaning it not only protests against illegal fishing activities but actively confronts perpetrators on the seas.

The active element of Sea Shepherd’s work was the clincher for activist Pia Klemp, who is the current manager of the Steve Irwin.

“We’re not just out there to protest and take pictures of what’s happening. We are out there to interfere and stop illegal fishing activities,” Ms Klemp said.

Originally from Germany, Ms Klemp studied biology and worked as a diving instructor in Indonesia for two years before joining Sea Shepherd a year and a half ago.

She said she had always had a deep interest in the ocean and was called to action after researching the destruction happening in the world’s oceans.

“It’s just wiping out species after species and habitat after habitat,” Ms Klemp said.

“With Sea Shepherd I’ve found the perfect organisation because its direct action and is doing something about it and not just talking.”

Ms Klemp has worked in various roles across Sea Shepherd’s fleet of ships, the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, Sam Simon and Brigitte Bardot.

She said the four ships were crewed by around 140 people, with around 90 to 95 per cent working as volunteers.

Sea Shepherd is a non-profit, non-government organisation and relies on donations from the public to stay afloat.

“We try to keep costs as low as possible so we have the money to go out and do our campaigns,” Ms Klemp said.

Through running boat tours when docked, the organisation is able to spread its message and collect much needed donations.

“We’re very happy to show off our ships and talk about the issues that the oceans are facing and what Sea Shepherd is doing to combat illegal activities,” Ms Klemp said.

Sea Shepherd was formed in 1977 and is most commonly associated with anti-whaling.

Each year a fleet of ships travel to Antarctica to intercept Japanese whaling ships operating in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

The group also runs other marine conservation and defence operations around the world.

Ms Klemp said Sea Shepherd goes to Taiji every year to stop the slaughter of dolphins, to the Faero Islands to protect pilot whales and to the Mediterranean to stop the illegal fishing of bluefin tuna.

She said Sea Shepherd was also active in Canada and Namibia, taking action against the clubbing of seals, in the South Pacific where they work stop shark-finning and fishing and in the Galapogos Islands where they work with the Ecuadorian Government to protect the marine reserve.

After leaving Docklands, the Bob Barker and Steve Irwin returned to Williamstown, where the crew is preparing for its tenth Antarctic campaign, this year named “Operation Relentless”.

Ms Kemp said Antarctica was an amazing place that was difficult to describe in words.

“It’s this white, vast, untouched, beautiful place,” she said. “Which makes it even more terrifying to see poaching ships there.”

Sea Shepherd leaves for Antarctica in late November, travelling for around two weeks before arriving and beginning the search for Japanese whaling ships.

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