Farley Mowat detained by SA Authorities! January 26, 2006 10:49 AM
Anti-whaling ship detained by SA authorities
The anti-whaling ship Farley Mowat, which has spent six weeks harassing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic, has been detained in Cape Town harbour by South African authorities.
The Canadian-registered ship, which belongs to the activist Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was detained when it docked on Wednesday afternoon after returning from the Antarctic.
The ship, according to a statement it released, has been "ambushing" Japanese whalers, "hitting them and then chasing them again".
It has been placed under guard for the duration of its indefinite detention.
The captain, Paul Watson, and first mate Paul Cornelissen have also been detained.
The authorities say the detention is because of inadequate safety measures on board, but Sea Shepherd believes it is a ploy by Canada and South Africa, under pressure from Japan, to keep the ship from harassing Japan's whaling fleet.
On Wednesday the department of transport served papers on the vessel that said it "appears to be inadequately manned and is without any safety certification" and was in contravention of the Merchant Shipping Act.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) served papers that said the vessel was "not in possession of an international ship security certificate or a ship security plan".
Samsa ordered that a guard, approved by the port security officer, be permanently stationed at the gangway of the Farley Mowat and that another "continuously patrol the deck" during the ship's stay.
Herbert Henrich, an adviser to the board of Sea Shepherd, said: "This is obviously because of pressure from Japan on Canada. They want to make things difficult.
"They say the vessel is inadequately manned by referring to some Canadian regulation that says the captain and first mate must be Canadian. The captain is, but the first mate is Dutch. Normally this rule would not apply outside Canada.
"This action by the South African government is a most amazing step and very detrimental in terms of its environmental record."
Japanese whalers are catching more than 900 whales, purportedly for "scientific" purposes, in the Antarctic this summer.
The whale meat is sold as an expensive delicacy after scientific samples have been taken. Anti-whaling groups believe Japan's scientific claims are a cover for commercial whaling, which is not allowed under International Whaling Commission rules.
Watson said in an emailed statement this week that his mission in the Antarctic, where he had been working for six weeks with Greenpeace ships, was not to protest against whaling, but "to aggressively shut down the outlaw activities of this Japanese whaling fleet".
"Because we are slower than the whalers, we have to rely on ambushing them, hitting them and then chasing them again."
When one Japanese whaler refused to move out of the Antarctic Whaling Sanctuary, "the Farley Mowat slammed into their starboard side to convey that this was a serious matter. They began to run and we have not seen them since."
Samsa was not available for comment. The Canadian High Commission was asked for comment, but failed to respond.
[ send green star]