January: A Petrobras Oil Company pipeline ruptures near Rio de Janeiro and spills over 300,000 gallons of crude oil into the bay and marshes. Sea Shepherd volunteers coordinate wildlife rescue efforts. The Rio Grande do Sul state government contracts with Sea Shepherd Brasil to develop an oiled wildlife rescue plan.
February: The Sea Shepherd III is struck from Belize registry after Captain Watson refuses to pay a bribe to Belize officials. The ship is re-registered under the Cayman Islands and renamed the Ocean Warrior.
March: The Ocean Warrior goes to the Galapagos Islands. Sea Shepherd enters into negotiations with park authorities to provide a conservation vessel and crew for joint conservation patrols to afford greater protection for the biologically unique Galapagos National Park. The Ocean Warrior then transits the Panama Canal to Miami, Florida.
April: Paul Watson signs an agreement with the State of Rio Grande du Sol in Brazil, giving Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil authority to conduct anti-poaching patrols along the nation’s southern coast. Captain Watson accompanies Sea Shepherd Brazil President Alexander Castro on the first flight to patrol the coastline.
June: Sea Shepherd joins the coalition supporting the establishment of the Gulf of Maine International Ocean Wilderness. The Ocean Wilderness protects a unique part of the ecological heritage of North America, starting about 12 miles offshore and extending to the end of the Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 miles, encompassing ten miles on each side of the United States and Canadian borders. By extending this protected area perpendicular from the coast to the boundary all the way to the Atlantic Abyss, a wide diversity of habitats and marine life can be protected.
July: The Ocean Warrior crosses the Atlantic Ocean to the Netherlands to prepare for a campaign to the Danish Faeroe islands to protect pilot whales.
July: TheOcean Warrior sails to the Faeroe Islands to intervene against the annual slaughter of pilot whales. Once again, the issue of the hunt is brought to the front pages of the European media. Sea Shepherd brings economic pressure to bear against those companies still purchasing seafood from the Faeroes – representing 90% of their economy – most prominently Dutch-based giant Unilever. Over 20,000 European retail outlets terminated their Faeroese fish contracts at Sea Shepherd’s request.
September: Work begin to prepare the Sirenian for delivery to the Galapagos Islands under the terms of a five-year agreement with the Ecuadorian National Park Service and Navy, responsible for patrolling a 50,000-acre marine reserve but currently only has one boat dedicated to patrols. The Darwin Research Center is also actively involved in this cooperative effort. The Sirenian is contracted to conduct conservation patrols of the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve – the first ever to be permitted in the waters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site by a foreign-registered vessel – to clamp down on commercial fishing operations undertaken within 40 miles of the baseline of the biologically unique islands. The Galapagos are a prime target for Asian vessels poaching shark fins and pulling in illegal hauls of the abundant but fragile sea life around the archipelago.
November: Sea Shepherd sponsors the work of the Seal Alert-SA in South Africa, helping to purchase an inflatable for their work in saving and rehabilitating Cape fur seals.
December: Sea Shepherd files suit in Washington State Superior Court charging that the state has ignored its own environmental regulations by failing to protect a small, local aggregation of Eastern Pacific gray whales whose numbers were dramatically less than the oft-cited 22,000+ of the main gray whale population. Sea Shepherd demands that the state fulfill its legal obligation to restrict and regulate the Makah whale hunt in order to protect the local whale population.
December: Captain Watson delivers the Sirenian to the Galapagos from Seattle. Actor Aiden Quinn joins the crew from Costa Rica to the Galapagos.
Captain Watson is joined by celebrities to send-off the Sirenian: Actress Linda Blair (left picture)
and John Paul Mitchell Systems CEO John Paul DeJoria and Actor David Carradine.