Sea Shepherd’s sole mission is to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. We work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Serving as the only fleet in the world whose sole purpose is to protect all marine wildlife, we are committed to the protection and enforcement of conservation law.
Our model of engagement provides unique, at sea resources to assist, serve and support developing coastal and island governments in the protection of their sovereign waters against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Sea Shepherd’s primary goal is to greatly enhance a government’s own capacity to patrol, monitor, and enforce their own laws.
Working under direct supervision and in complete partnership with host governments, Sea Shepherd provides fully-equipped vessels, professional crews, fuel, and other tools that enhance their ability to detect and deter IUU fishing.
Over the past five years, we assisted law enforcers from our partner governments as they arrested dozens of vessels resulting in numerous successful prosecutions. These efforts increased monetary recoveries for our partners, reduced subsequent maritime crimes, and helped restore fish populations.
The Vaquita Porpoise is an endemic species that soley exists in a small region of Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California and is widely regarded as the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Preventing the extinction of the Vaquita is Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s top priority. This campaign is now in its ninth year and is called Operation Milagro (“Miracle” in Spanish).
Operation Milagro collaborates with the members of the Intergovernmental Group (GIS) led by Mexico’s Secretary of the Navy, under the protection of the current collaboration agreement. Since 2015, Sea Shepherd has worked with Mexican authorities and leading researchers to protect the Vaquita by preventing and removing illegal fishing gear inside the Vaquita Refuge – a UNESCO-recognized and federally protected area in which gillnet fishing is banned. Additionally, since 2015 Sea Shepherd’s fleet has removed over 1,000 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the refuge to date, giving the Vaquita a fighting chance at survival as well as helping the threatened totoaba.
In 2022, our data showed a 79% reduction in the total hours of illegal fishing activity, which means less placement of the deadly, illegal nets that have brought the Vaquita to the edge of extinction. In January of 2023, we introduced the Seahorse, a ship specifically purchased and re-fit for the rigors of Milagro, and in first 75 days of its activation we saw a 90% reduction in illegal fishing activity.
Most recently, in June of 2023 we announced “Clear Signs of Progress in Protecting Endangered Vaquita” on June 7, 2023, which was the official release of the 2023 Vaquita Survey data with Survey leaders and senior Mexican government officials. Survey data showed up to 10-13 Vaquita exist, including a minimum of one newly born calf, who have now been sighted in two consecutive surveys. Dr. Barbara Taylor, leader of the comprehensive evaluation, said “This survey revealed the greatest conservation success for vaquitas in my 30 years working to conserve this species,” and later in the report states “The apparent 90% decrease in gillnetting within the last stronghold of the Vaquitas is probably the most significant step taken to date to save this species.”
Around the world, Sea Shepherd is building new partnerships with national governments to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in their sovereign waters and protect marine wildlife.