Illegal operations plunder marine sanctuaries with impunity, within the high seas, far from the eyes of international authorities and public scrutiny, the issue is even worse. International laws and agreements exist to protect ocean wildlife and marine habitats, but they can be difficult to enforce because of lack of political will, insufficient economic resources, or transnational boundaries that blur jurisdiction. Where a law enforcement vacuum exists, Sea Shepherd acts to fill that void.
“I think we are law enforcers in a lawless world. I think the reason oceans are in the state they are in is because of the difficulty enforcing the law, and in most international waters there are just no laws at all. That is why there is a massive problem with overfishing.”
Chief Operating Officer, David Hance
Direct Action on the High Seas
Despite our relatively small size and limited resources, Sea Shepherd’s campaigns have been effective because we use direct action to achieve results, instead of billboards, petitions or protest marches. Our ships, mainly crewed by passionate volunteers, have saved over 6000 whales from the Japanese harpoon ships in the dangerous Antarctic waters. We have stood up to seal hunters, hauled in miles of illegal fishing gear, and relentlessly chased one of the world’s most notorious poaching vessels for 110 days until they scuttled their own ship in defeat.
Working with Law Enforcement
Some of Sea Shepherd’s most successful campaigns were conducted in cooperation with international law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL. We also regularly assist nations who are lacking the resources to defend their own coastal waters from IUU fishing, such as Liberia and Gabon in West Africa, and protecting marine sanctuaries from poachers in the Galapagos.
Land-Based and National Campaigns
Sea Shepherd coordinates some of our most famous campaigns on the high seas. Still, we remain very much a grassroots movement, with many more national campaigns conducted locally by Sea Shepherd groups in Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK, Belgium, Finland and Italy. Around the world, our volunteers participate in land-based campaigns to clean up marine debris on beaches, protect coastal nesting habitats, and educate the public about Sea Shepherd’s mission.