The Farley Mowat departed from Sao Luis this morning, August 31st, on the first leg of a campaign to protect offshore Brazilian marine reserves.
Although the Farley Mowat is skippered by Captain Paul Watson, this campaign has been organized and is being led by Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil. There is an international crew of 27, of which the majority of 19 crewmembers are from Brazil. The other 8 of the crew include the captain and second officer who are from Canada, an engineer and two deckhands from the United Kingdom, one engineer from Venezuela, a first officer from The Netherlands and a bosun from Germany. Eleven of the crew are female and 16 are male. The youngest crew member is Monica Silveira, 19, from Brazil, and the oldest crew member is Joan Court, 86, from the United Kingdom.
The first stop on the campaign is an inspection and patrol of Atol das Rocas which is 3 degrees 52 minutes south 33 degrees 49 minutes west. This is a coral atoll off the east coast of Brazil. This is a conservation area, and it is prohibited for any vessel to anchor, disembark, dive or fish in the reserve area established around the atoll. After Atol das Rocas, the Farley Mowat will inspect Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago that lies about 200 nautical miles east of Natal, Brazil. This group of 25 very rugged islands was established as a federal territory in 1942. About 1,500 people live on the largest of the islands, and this includes military personnel and some fishermen. There is a diverse wildlife, and tourists come to the island fro scuba diving. As with most offshore national marine parks, poaching is a problem. This leg of the campaign will finish in Salvador in mid-September. Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil (ISSB) is a Brazilian registered, a Brazilian organized and led non-governmental organization that is part of Sea Shepherd International. Since 1998, ISSB has established itself as a credible and an important voice for conservation in Brazil. Addressing issues like rescuing marine wildlife from oil spills and policing Brazilian waters for illegal fishing activities, Sea Shepherd has become an organization that Brazilians can depend upon to protect the marine environment and marine wildlife.
Speaking from onboard the Farley Mowat, Captain Paul Watson reports that all is going smoothly. "It is actually very novel for me and quite pleasant that on this campaign I can concentrate on the navigation and implementation of tactics. The crewmembers from Instituto Sea Shepherd Brasil are dealing with the bureaucrats and the red tape, choosing our areas of operation, and deciding where we can most effectively target illegal fishing operations. It is exciting to contribute to the development of a strong marine conservation effort in Brazil by helping to empower Brazilians to intervene to protect their own marine ecosystems. Brazil is a dynamic nation and Sea Shepherd Brazil volunteers are young, passionate and dedicated to taking action to protect life in our oceans.