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Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organisation that campaigns to defend, conserve and protect the world’s oceans.
Sea Shepherd was founded in 1977 by Paul Watson, one of the original members of Greenpeace. Since its grassroots beginnings it has grown into an unstoppable global movement with independent groups established in over 20 countries.
Their campaigns have defended whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, penguins, turtles, fish, krill and aquatic birds from poaching, unsustainable fishing, habitat destruction, and exploitive captivity.
The ocean environment is an intricately-balanced ecosystem designed to support
and sustain marine wildlife. To truly thrive, they need safe sanctuaries to feed, mate and raise their young without pollution, destructive fishing gear, plastics and other marine debris that choke marine wildlife and destroy their habitats. Sea Shepherd opposes the pollution of the fragile ecosystem through off-shore drilling and fisheries, as well as the destruction of coral reefs from trawling, and the loss of coastal nesting sites from commercial development.
From its earliest years, Sea Shepherd has embraced the mandate of the United Nations World Charter for Nature to uphold international conservation laws when nations can’t…or won’t. Today, Sea Shepherd works with law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL to help bring poachers to justice, and partners with national governments around the world to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in their sovereign waters.
Despite their relatively small size and limited resources, Sea Shepherd’s campaigns have been effective because they use direct action to achieve results, instead of billboards, petitions or protest marches. Their ships, mainly crewed by passionate volunteers, have saved over 6000 whales from the Japanese harpoon ships in the dangerous Antarctic waters. They 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.
Captain Paul Watson has famously said “It takes a pirate to stop a pirate,” an inspiring rally cry for many Sea Shepherd supporters. It’s true that in their history they have rammed and sunk several ships to stop their illegal activities, but their mission to defend, conserve and protect our oceans and marine life has never resulted in a single injury. They don’t break laws, they uphold them.
Sea Shepherd Global's fleet – currently consisting of twelve vessels – plays a crucial role in the mission to defend, conserve and protect marine life in direct-action campaigns around the world, from Antarctica to Africa. Sea Shepherd is currently the world's largest private navy.
Sea Shepherd Global coordinates some of our most famous campaigns on the high seas. Still, they 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, 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.