Sea shepherd australia history

Sea Shepherd’s presence in Australia commenced in July 2006 when the City of Fremantle in Perth bestowed the M/V Farley Mowat as its home port. The then Mayor of Fremantle Peter Tagliaferri, expressed his support and stated that the City would do everything in its power to support Sea Shepherd’s mission to shut down the Japanese whaling fleet.

Around this time Sea Shepherd chapters around the country began to be established by passionate onshore volunteers and today we have over 18 operating chapters around the country.

Perth Chapter 2006
Farley Mowat Crew 06
The Perth Chapter in 2006 (left), and the M/V Farely Mowat Docked in Fremantle in preparation for Operation Leviathan. 

Ahead of the 2010/11 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Sea Shepherd acquired the Ocean 7 Adventurer and in November 2010, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt christened the renamed vessel Gojira with Fremantle as its home port. The Gojira became the first Sea Shepherd ship registered in Australia, with an Australian crew. The Gojira was renamed MV Brigitte Bardot in May 2011.

The 'Gojira' heading to Perth in 2010 (left), and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt on-board the vessel with Captain Locky Maclean and Sea Shepherd Australian Managing Director Jeff Hansen (right).

In 2012, we cemented our presence in Australia announcing that Williamstown, Melbourne would become the southern operations base for Sea Shepherd. The base operates in support of the activities required to prepare our ships and crew for vital marine conservation work, as a gateway to our Antarctic whale defense campaigns.  Our flagship vessel the M/Y Steve Irwin can often be seen undergoing campaign maintenance by our volunteer crew with the Melbourne skyline in the background.

In mid-2012 Sea Shepherd took on the WA Government and oil and gas company Woodside, operator of the $45 billion Browse LNG Project which proposed to build an industrial gas hub at James Price Point north of Broome, Western Australia. This area is home to the biggest humpback nursery in the world. Sea Shepherd was committed to ensuring that the nursery remained a whale nursery and not an environmentally destructive gas hub.  Thankfully Woodside scrapped its plans to develop the Browse LNG project in April 2013.

A young Humpback Whale plays in front of the 'Steve Irwin' off the coast of Walmadan (left), and co-campaign leader Bob Brown with Goolarabooloo Senior Law Boss Phillip Roe (right).

In the same year, in response to the Western Australian Government installing drum lines off the WA coastline to catch and kill large sharks, Sea Shepherd Australia launched its shark campaign titled Apex Harmony. Through community engagement and advocacy for the sharks, along with patrolling, recording and documenting activities at the drum lines Sea Shepherd helped bring to an end this catch and kill shark policy. Through this Australia-wide campaign we are continuing our efforts to stop Australia’s senseless shark culls and is working with the community to promote better solutions to preventing shark bite incidents.

      A Fisheries officer with a recently killed female Tiger Shark (above).

During 2016, Sea Shepherd Australia launched Operation Jeedara a campaign to stop oil and gas giant, BP, from conducting exploration drilling in the incredible Great Australian Bight. It was a massive effort but South Australians and people around Australia and overseas, were rewarded with the news later that year that BP had cancelled their plans to drill. A fantastic outcome for marine wildlife in the biodiverse rich waters in the Bight. This David and Goliath battle for the Bight continues with oil and gas multinational, Chevron, planning to conduct exploration in the area in the future.

The 'Steve Irwin' crashes through waves in the Great Australian Bight (left), and Southern Right Whales off the Bunda Cliffs (right).

Responding to the growing issue of marine pollution, Sea Shepherd launched its Australian Marine Debris Campaign in February 2016. This grassroots community campaign last year involved almost 3,500 people who gave up their time to clean up beaches and waterways around the country and offshore. In total 430,000 items of potential and lethal marine debris was removed at 112 clean-ups. Every person involved in the Marine Debris Campaign is a volunteer, with every clean-up event making a positive contribution to the conservation and protection of our oceans.

The Marine Debris team sorts recently collected items from a Perth beach (left), and two young volunteers assist with one of the many clean ups in 2015 (right).