Thank you for your generous efforts to help us secure the release of the Steve Irwin. Thanks to you, we did it! In less than two weeks, our wonderful supporters raised enough that we were able to post the bond. Fortunately for us, the bond was reduced from the one million British pounds the Maltese fishing company demanded, to 520,000 pounds. While this is still a very large sum of money, it was well worth it to free our flagship.
Hopefully, we will get these funds returned after the civil case against us is heard in the British courts. We feel we have a strong defense and that we can prove illegality of the operation that we intervened in off the coast of Libya. This company, Fish & Fish Limited, has a history of using litigation to silence their opposition. They presently have muzzled Maltese newspapers with lawsuits that prevent them from further exposing illegal activities until the suits are settled. In other words, it is not the verdict that the company is interested in winning, it is the inconvenience, intimidation, and most importantly, the silencing of their opposition that they are trying to achieve through punitive pre-trial actions such as demanding a bond and muffling the media.
Sea Shepherd is not an organization that is easily intimidated. This is our first experience with a civil lawsuit; we have retained a law firm in London to defend us and present our own arguments before the court. We believe that our evidence is strong and we can win this suit, but even if we lose, the fact remains that our opposition to the intensive poaching of endangered bluefin will not be deterred.
There is no other conservation organization in the world that has stood up against the bluefin tuna poachers in the field like we have. There are many that talk about it, write letters, collect petitions, and conduct direct mail campaigns pleading for funds to save the bluefin tuna. These types of campaigns do not invite civil suits largely because they have no significant impact. With their immense wealth, the bluefin tuna companies hire lawyers to smack down any real threats to their crimes, and this lawsuit reveals that they consider Sea Shepherd to be a very real threat.
Fish & Fish alleges that Sea Shepherd freed 800 bluefin tuna from their net. Truthfully, we don’t know precisely how many fish were in the net, but what we do know is that these fish are of more value swimming freely in the sea than being fattened in a pen off the coast of Malta for the Japanese fish market. Something really stinks in Malta, and the actions taken by Fish & Fish to stifle journalists is a good indication that all is not quite kosher with this company.
We intend to fight them in the courts and on the high seas. We will not cave in to intimidation or litigation strategies. If Fish & Fish wish to use the British court system to persecute Sea Shepherd, we will use the same courts to defend ourselves–and the tuna.
If they hit us we need to hit them harder. We need to help the world understand that Malta is harboring companies that are responsible for driving this magnificent species toward extinction. The bluefin is being crucified upon the cross of Malta, and this will be an ignoble legacy for all Maltese to bear when the bluefin in no more.
Thus we move forward into the courts and upon the seas in our continuing efforts to defend and protect this unique and magnificent creature – the warm-blooded miracle that is like the cheetah of the sea.
And with your help, we will succeed against impossible odds, against a powerful, wealthy, greedy, and ruthless industry.
Captain Paul Watson