The Steve Irwin pulls away from Fremantle, headed for the Southern Ocean. Photo: Heather LindgrenThe Steve Irwin pulls away from Fremantle, headed for the Southern Ocean. Photo: Heather LindgrenSea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, has departed Fremantle, Western Australia for the Southern Ocean. The ship’s departure marks the official commencement of the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

Led by returning Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine waters of Antarctica from poachers, with the aim to shutdown illegal activities in what is the world’s last great wilderness.

Sea Shepherd will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the Japanese whale poaching fleet and the two remaining illegal toothfish vessels, Viking and Kunlun (Taishan), which continue to threaten the survival of the fragile and wild Antarctic ecosystem.

“The Steve Irwin will be the only proactive enforcement presence in Antarctica once again this year. The shadowlands of Antarctica are under threat and we are the only form of protection to the marine wildlife in these unregulated regions. Other than offering direct and immediate protection to the oceans, we intend to investigate and document the illegalities and work with law-enforcement agencies, once again, to aid and close out existing investigations worldwide,” said Captain Chakravarty.

As Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin depart for the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has called on the governments who are responsible for upholding the laws that protect the Southern Ocean to intervene against these poaching operations.

“Sea Shepherd should not be left to defend Antarctica alone,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. “For the last 13 years our ships and crews have shone an international spotlight on both the illegal whaling and more recently on the illegal toothfish operations. Now it’s time for governments to step-up and take serious action to address the issue of poaching in the Southern Ocean.”

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said, “Sea Shepherd needs reinforcements. 76.9% of Australians want the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the Japanese whale poaching fleet. Australia has been commended for taking Japan to the ICJ, but now the government needs to take responsibility for enforcement by sending a ship to oppose the whale poachers.”

Capt. Sid Chakravarty addresses media at the campaign launch press conference. Photo: Tim WattersCapt. Sid Chakravarty addresses media at the campaign launch press conference. Photo: Tim Watters

The crew of the Steve Irwin on lines as the ship departs. Photo: Eliza MuirheadThe crew of the Steve Irwin on lines as the ship departs. Photo: Eliza Muirhead

Capt. Sid. Chakravarty oversees departure operations. Photo: Tim WattersCapt. Sid. Chakravarty oversees departure operations. Photo: Tim Watters

The crew of the Steve Irwin wave farewell to supporters, friends and family. Photo: Tim WattersThe crew of the Steve Irwin wave farewell to supporters, friends and family. Photo: Tim Watters

Operation Icefish 2015-16
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Operation Icefish 2015-16
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