Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Operation Blue Rage

Sea Shepherds Free 800 Bluefin from Floating Cages
Below Libya’s Infamous Line of Death

Steve Irwin Rammed by Bluefin fishery vessel
Sea Shepherd Crew Repel Violent Assault by Fishermen
Libyan Navy in Pursuit of the Steve Irwin

Thursday, June 17th, 2010.
Day Ten of the Mediterranean Patrol
(Off the Coast of Libya)

Report by Captain Paul Watson
On the M/V Steve Irwin

Sea Shepherd’s helicopter reconnaissance flight this morning found two fishing vessels, one was engaged in transferring Bluefin tuna into one of the two nets being towed by the other vessel.

The Bluefin fishery vessels were inside waters claimed by Libya and about 42 miles off the coast of North Africa..

At 1300 Hours the Steve Irwin came upon the Italian vessel Cesare Rustico towing two cages, one contained about 800 fish and the other was empty.

The Captain of the Cesare Rustico said when we questioned him, that the tuna were caught on the morning of the 14th by the Libyan vessel Tagreft. When we replied that the number of tuna in the cage exceeded the quota for the Tagreft the captain said the cage also included tuna from seven other Libyan seiners. All the catches were caught on the 14th , the last legal day, he said. The other seven seiners named were the Khandheel 2, Hanibal, Ozul 2 Almadina, Morina, and Khaleej Eltahadi and one other that he had no name for. The problem for us with this explanation was that we had observed the Khandheel 2 on the 13th and 14th of June and it was not fishing and weather conditions for those two days made fishing virtually impossible. The extremely difficult conditions coupled with the position of the cages only 40 miles off the Libyan coast, when they should have been moving 25 miles a day, suggested to us that the fish were freshly caught within the last three days at the most.

Their statement that all the catches were caught on the 14th sounded much too convenient, so we asked to examine the fish for juveniles and they refused. I then put the bow of the Steve Irwin onto the cage so we could look into the cage from the bow to examine it further.

Suddenly the Maltese vessel Rosaria Tuna rammed the Steve Irwin on the aft port side and slid alongside the port rail as a fishermen tried to violently gaff Sea Shepherd crewmembers with a long sharp hook on a pole.

The Steve Irwin crew retaliated with 8 litres of rotten butter forcing the fishing vessel to retreat and to stand off.

At 1530 Hours the two fishing vessels circled their cages defensively and the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin stood off to notify ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) of possible violations. They did not respond.

The Jean Charcot, the ICCAT inspection vessel will not venture south of 33 Degrees 40 Minutes North.

With two fishing vessels containing angry Italian crews there were risks involved with getting into the water to assess the Bluefin catch. But if the catch is illegal Sea Shepherd divers knew they must cut the nets and free the Bluefin tuna.

Sometimes it is necessary to do what needs to be done despite the risks. The risk of losing the Bluefin tuna as a species is far more important than the risks to our own lives and freedom.

And so we decided to free the tuna.

At 1600 Hours a five person dive crew entered one of two cages being towed by the Italian fishing vessel Cesare Rustico.

As the Steve Irwin held off the Cesare Rustico and the support ship Rosaria Tuna, the Sea Shepherd dive crew dove into the net to identify the size, age and quantity of the Bluefin tuna within; once it was clearly established that the cage was over stocked and that a high percentage were juveniles, Sea Shepherd divers freed the 700-800 tuna.

It is our position that the Bluefin tuna we freed from that cage held a large number of juveniles and that the fish were caught after the official closure of the season. It is also our position that the fish that we freed exceeded the quota.

A large percentage of the tuna were juveniles and from the position of the cages and the fact that the entire Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna closed at midnight on June 14th, Sea Shepherd is convinced that this catch was caught after June 14 and therefore Sea Shepherd holds the position that this operation by these two vessels was illegal.*

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a protest organization. The Society is an anti-poaching organization and these two seiners are poachers.

A Sea Shepherd cameraman filmed the release of the fish from the centre of the cage and the swimmers confirmed that all 700 to 800 tuna inside the enclosure were freed.

“They shot out of that net like race horses,” said Canadian cameraman Simon Ager 40

After freeing the Bluefin tuna, the Steve Irwin headed north and out of the waters claimed by Libya. The Maltese media reported that Libya had dispatched warships to pursue the Steve Irwin.

There are claims in the Maltese press that a Bluefin Tuna fisherman was injured by our actions. No one on the Steve Irwin, in the helicopter or in the Delta saw any incident where a fisherman was injured, we saw one man dive into the water from the side of the cage. We saw him get up and give us the rude Italian arm signal. We had another fisherman slash at the crew with a hook on the end of a long pole and we had one of the vessels ram us in the port stern area.

* Notes

Given the very bad weather conditions in the Zone north of Tripoli until the closure of the legal fishing season on the 14th of june, it is impossible this catch was taken during the legal season. The Tuna were caught post-closure, during the period of very calm weather that has predominated over the area since the 15th.

Legal Season:

Wind speed 12th june: 20-35 knots / Seas 1-2 meters
Wind speed 13th june: 20-25 knots / Seas 1-2 meters
Wind speed 14th june: 10-20 knots / Seas 1-2 meters

Post closure:

Wind speed 15th june: 10-15 knots / Seas 1 meter
Wind speed 16th june: 15 knots / Seas <1 meter
Wind speed 17th june: 10 knots / Seas <1 meter

The Steve Irwin passed the Khandeel 2 (one of the vessels on the BCD document read over the VHF radio) on the 13th at 1230 at 33*36 / 13*55 less than 20 miles from where we encountered the cages towed by cesare rustico and rosario tuna on the 17th, and it was not fishing. The weather was rough.

Given the location of the capture, and the location of the tow vessel, it is impossible the catch was made 3 days ago. Heading towards Malta with an average 25 miles per day, the vessel and cage would have been much further North. (the vessel was in very calm weather sitting still waiting a second vessel)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Green Volunteers update


There are 2 ladies who look after stray dogs around Pasir Ris. They urgently need volunteers to help them with the dogs. If you can help, please contact Adrian Tan directly (mobile 92368614).


As you all know I am in Ramesh Travel Service and intend to increase my trips to Malaysia (by road). I am looking for a reliable transport contractor for 12, 25 and 40 seater vans and buses.

All vehicles have to be Malaysian registered and insured. What I am looking for is a competitive and reliable contractor. No need for free weekly lunches, Christmas hampers or kick-backs, just honest, reliable and efficient service – contact me for future discussions.


10th July (Saturday) at 4.00 pm. Email to book place/s.


The Green Volunteers have “adopted” KKPS and need the following supplies:

Children’s t-shirts, shorts

School supplies, simple English books

Board games, soft toys

Socks, shoes, slippers etc and

Vitamin tablets, eyedrops, soap and shampoo

I am hoping that some schools will choose KKPS as their “sister” school so that regular visits can be arranged. We have many teachers amongst our volunteers so hope someone will take up this suggestion. I can help with the arrangements and planning of these visits.


We have decided to resume our school and company environmental talks. There will be a nominal charge of $50 for schools and $100 for companies to defray expenses. Call or email me if you need more information.


a) 3D/2N Endau Rompin National Park, Johor, Malaysia. Selai campsite 25th June (Friday) to 27th (Sunday). Accommodation: Wooden chalet 2 to a room, bring our own sleeping bag. Price: $295 per person, minimum 8 to go (visa if needed not included) with insurance.

b) JOGJAKARTA (Indonesia) 5D/4N during September school holidays, minimum 8 to go, price being worked out. Twin sharing. Highlights: Visit the 8th century Buddhist BOROBUDUR TEMPLE (World Heritage site), PRAMBANAN TEMPLE probably the World’s most beautiful and tallest Hindu temple. OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Visit active volcano Gunung Merapi, trekking, rafting, farmstay, cook local food, leather industry and some shopping for handicrafts (probably during last day).


I am planning a super trip this late December to Chiangmai (cool season). We’ll visit elephants, hilltribes, go trekking, rafting and anything else we fancy! We will go to hilltribes that no tourists have ever visited and we go during the New Year’s season we can go to an authentic LAHU village to celebrate with them.

I intend to take a maximum of 10 people, prices are being worked out so if you’re interested let me know.

10) OUR BLOG…..

We will be slowly phasing out our email updates. Please refer to the Green Volunteers blog (www.thegreenvolunteers.blogspot.com) for the LATEST updates on our talks/walks/trips and activities.



On Saturday, 12th June, our volunteer Mr Ali Ibrahim gave a talk cum presentation called "Singapore Flora" at the Fort Canning. Ali a plant/tree expert and a card carrying "tree hugger" gave a really inspiring talk and gave us insights that we never thought of and provoked us into taking a completely different view of these green giants.

Thank you Ali for such a lively and unusual talk. We are looking into the possibility of arranging guests for a monthly series of talks. Thank you Ali so much for sharing your time and knowledge with us.

Hope to see you soon on one of our walks or trips.

Mobile 968 40 950

“The dogs bark while the true soldiers march on”

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


We took advantage of the long weekend (Vesak day, 28th May Friday) and went to Bintan Island, Indonesia. There were 7 of us and we had a great time.

On the mangrove boat tour, we spotted several cat snakes and a reticulated python resting on the overhead branches. We visited Sei Kuning Primary School and gave the students badminton rackets, footballs and basketballs, stationery and bags.

We even managed to visit a toufoo making “factory” that produced most of the toufoo that went to wet markets, neighbourhood shops and event to the resorts. My favourite time was when we visited the seven elephants at Nirwana Resort. I have made friend with a beautiful and gentle elephant called “Emma” we bought bananas for her and posed for photos with her. She’s a beautiful, friendly and gentle elephant and I look forward to visiting her again.

In June, we are planning another trip 19th to 21st (Monday).

Nature and recycling was the focus of this trip and we saw a traditional village blacksmith transform a piece of steel from a car’s suspension to a useful strong parang (Machete) and pandan leaves woven into beautiful handbags and tissue holders. The company was fun and we had a good time.