Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tailing The Winter Bay

Sea Shepherd's ship Sam Simon has left Norwegian waters, after a short stop in the port of Tromsø. It was tailing a shipment of
endangered fin whale meat, en route to Japan.
You'll recall in May, I blogged about the cargo vessel Winter Bay, with 1,700 tonnes of endangered fin whale meat, harvested from endangered whales slaughtered in the North Atlantic by Icelandic whaling company Hvalur (run by its blood-hungry CEO Kristján Loftsson).
Winter Bay (which until 2014 was Norwegian-owned, and operated by the country's shipping and ferry company Nor Lines), has been reflagged to a St.Kitts and Nevis flag-of-convenience. It's ownership has been transferred to a shell company in Tortola British Virgin Islands, and the vessel's management has been outsourced to a Latvian ship operator. It's not uncommon for older, aging ships to be handled in this way to avoid the cost of maintenance.
Prior arrival in Tromsø, Sam Simon notified Norwegian authorities of it's plans to enter Norwegian waters, as required under law. The SS vessel was then tailed by the Norwegian Coast Guard, and buzzed multiple times by a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft.
Once in harbour, Sam Simon was boarded by about two dozen Coast Guard, Customs officers and police with sniffer dogs. They carried out a thorough inspection, while crew were kept under guard in the mess.
There were no incidents and the authorities remained professional and courteous at all times, but it's hoped the Coast Guard subjected Winter Bay, which is carrying endangered wildlife, to the same amount of close scrutiny.
SS will continue to watch Winter Bay, which is
scheduled to sail the icy passage between Russia and the North Pole to Japan.
...meanwhile actress Pamela Anderson has written to Russian Prez Putin, requesting that Russia stop Winter Bay from sailing through the Northeast Passage.
Winter Bay is in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which the Russian Federation is a signatory. CITES prohibited the shipment from going through the Suez or Panama Canals, thus leaving only one viable route: the Bering Strait, which separates the Russian region of Kamchatka from the US state of Alaska at the point where the Arctic meets the Pacific Ocean. This cuts straight through Russian territorial waters, meaning Putin has the power to refuse the Winter Bay passage and send it back to Iceland.
Anderson, a well-known animal-rights advocate, has asked the Russian leader to do exactly that...

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