After a voyage of 25 days, the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat reached Fremantle in Western Australia on July 10th.
It was a tempestuous crossing with extremely rough seas and bad weather. The ship had one lifeboat torn away and lost overboard. But the crew were all safe and all smiles as they dropped anchor in Australia waters. After clearing customs and immigration the ship docked at Berth C in Fremantle Port.
For Chief Cook Laura Dakin of Canberra, Australia, it was the first time she has been on her home ground since the ship departed Melbourne in early December 2005 to pursue the Japanese whaling fleet.
Thanks to Attorney-General Jim McGinty, the Fremantle Ports waived berthing, piloting, and mooring fees for the ship. This saved us about $8,000 Australian dollars.
This act of support was criticized by the opposition party's shadow planning and infrastructure minister Simon O'Brien who said that, ""The Sea Shepherd group have plenty of money. They do not need the charity of the WA taxpayer,"
Captain Watson replied to him saying, "The truth is that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not have plenty of money. We are a small group of volunteers. We need every dollar we can to finance our conservation efforts in the Galapagos and to oppose illegal whaling in Antarctica.
"Waiving fees for a non-commercial vessel that is trying to stop the illegal slaughter of the whales that Australians love is not charity. I believe that Mr. O'Brien's failure to understand the Australian passion for the whales may be one of the reasons he is the shadow minister and not a member of the ruling party of Western Australia.
"We are struggling to raise the funding for this campaign - a campaign in which my crew of international volunteers will be risking their lives to stop illegal whaling.
"I would like to respectfully ask Mr. O'Brien what he is doing to stop the
On the other hand, The Honourable Jim McGinty displayed real political courage in stating where he stands with regard to the whales.
In response to the criticism that Sea Shepherd is a "radical" group, Mr. McGinty, who is Fremantle's MLA, (Member of the Legislative Assembly) acknowledged that the group used radical tactics but said he was not concerned.
"Anyone who is critical of them is frankly being a bit too soft," he said.
The reality, of course, is that the Sea Shepherd is not a radical organization. We are not even a protest organization. There is nothing radical about opposing illegal activities and Japanese whaling in the South Ocean Whale Sanctuary of Antarctica is an illegal activity.
As a conservation organization, the Sea Shepherd Society is actually quite conservative because we are working to conserve by opposing radical and criminal exploitative activities.
Sea Shepherd has a very supportive base in Fremantle and Perth.
"It's good to be back in friendly territory," said Captain Alex Cornelissen. "The South African people were very supportive and very pro-whale, but unfortunately, their government and bureaucrats are not. Here in Australia, the whales have friends in government as well as among the people. It is very encouraging."