|Tuesday, October 31, 2006|
Sea Shepherd Partners with World Wildlife Fund to Protect the Galapagos
In December 2000, Captain Paul Watson delivered the former U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessel Cape Knox to the Galapagos National Park. Renamed the Sirenian by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the vessel began a five-year contract with the National Park to patrol the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
For five years, the Sirenian assisted the Galapagos Park rangers to intercept and arrest high seas poachers.
At the end of the five-year period in October 2005, Captain Watson signed over the Sirenian to the Galapagos National Park as a permanent patrol vessel for the Marine Reserve. Sea Shepherd is now assisting the Galapagos National Park in deleting the Canadian flag registry to allow for the vessel to fly Ecuadorian colors.
"This is where this ship belongs," said Captain Watson. "The Marine Reserve needs her and here she will stay."
The ship will continue to carry the Sea Shepherd logo on her funnel and will continue to carry Sea Shepherd volunteer observers onboard to assist the rangers and the Ecuadorian Navy.
In June 2006, the Sirenian was in need of a major overhaul. The ship had been given a $250,000 refit in 2000 prior to delivery to the National Park but after five years of patrols, she had suffered from normal wear and tear and was in need of costly repairs to her machinery and hull.
Eliecer Cruz, the former Director of the National Park, was the man who invited Sea Shepherd to bring the boat to the Galapagos back in April of 2000. Cruz is now the World Wildlife Fund representative in the Galapagos.
He asked Captain Watson if he would consider changing the name of the vessel in return for a $400,000 donation from a private donor. The donation would go through the World Wildlife Fund. The donor wanted to name the vessel named Yoshka in honor of a family member.
"A complete overhaul of the Sirenian was certainly worth a name change and so we were happy to agree," said Captain Watson.
In December, the Sirenian will begin her seventh year of patrols in the Galapagos, now under the name Yoshka.
"I have enormous respect for Eliecer Cruz," said Captain Paul Watson. "The WWF could not have a better representative then they have in this native Galapagonian. Eliecer is dedicated to defending the Galapagos and Sea Shepherd has a great working relationship with him."
Sea Shepherd maintains a permanent office in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, and Sean O'Hearn is our resident Sea Shepherd director for the Galapagos.
"Sea Shepherd, Wild Aid, WWF, and the Darwin Research Center are in agreement that together we must assist Galapagos National Park Director Raquel Molina to protect this unique and precious eco-system," said Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director Sean O'Hearn.
These four organizations involved with the Marine Reserve protection are working cooperatively together towards the common goal of protecting this World Heritage Site.
In the past two years, the National Park has seized more than 23,586 shark fins and 668,892 contraband sea cucumbers.
The Yoshka will continue her work patrolling the vast marine reserve in search of shark-finners, illegal sea cucumber poachers, and outlaw fishing operations.