Sea Shepherd’s vessel the Sam Simon pulled into Gibraltar Port yesterday morning to refuel before heading off to an undisclosed location.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organisation.
Sam Simon’s Ship Manager, Lex Rigby, told the Chronicle: “We have stopped here to refuel this morning and then we are off to a confidential location. So we are going off to our next campaign but we have not revealed any of the details on that yet.”
The crew and vessel arrived from Catania in Italy having just finished the Jairo-Med campaign; a crusade to protect endangered turtles in the Mediterranean Sea.
During the campaign “Sam Simon, in cooperation with the Italian Coast Guard, retrieved 49 deadly FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy), along with 73.5 km of illegal nylon braid, and hundreds of plastic drums that threaten ocean wildlife,” said Sam Simon’s official Facebook Page.
Sam Simon is the SSCS’s fourth vessel and is named after American television producer, co-developer of The Simpson, the writer Sam Simon, who donated the money to purchase the vessel.
Originally built in 1993 in Tokyo by the Japanese Government, she retired from service in 2010. Subsequently she was taken over by Sea Shepherd and during 2012 she carried a crew of 24 international volunteers on her first campaign, into the Southern Ocean to tackle the illegal Japanese whaling fleet.
When asked what the average person could do to assist marine conservation Ms Rigby encouraged people to talk about it.
“Nobody sees what happens out there [in the ocean] and the hardest thing we have to do is expose what is going on out there.
You go to a store a buy a can of tuna and you think nothing more about it but when you actually see how that tuna is fished and the impact that has not just on the tuna populations but on the sharks, there is a hell of a lot of bycatch. It affects dolphins, it affects turtles, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of sharks just cut free from nets dead and it is wasteful.”
“I think if people really want to do something for marine conservation, they have got to question what they are eating, they have to question their choices about accepting a plastic bag at the supermarket, you have to start saying no to a straw when you are out for drinks.”
“There are really, really small things you can do that actually are tackling these really big problems that we have got,” she added.
The SSCS now has five vessels “this has given us the opportunity to do a lot more different campaigns,” said Ms Rigby.
“We have been campaigning against poaching in the Southern Oceans, we had a very successful campaign called Operation Icefish where we were protecting Antarctica and Patagonia Toothfish.”
“We have been doing other work in West Africa, we have been working with the Governments there to tackle illegal imported and unregulated fishing.”
“We have had collaborations with the Libyan Government as well this year when the [SSCS] vessel Bob Barker was there.”
“The Sam Simon earlier this year spent time in Mexico working with the Government to protect the Vaquita porpoise. There are only about 15 of those left so that is a pretty tragic state,” Ms Rigby added.