July 15th, 2011
by Neil Riddell
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson (left) and Locky MacLean, captain of the
Brigitte Bardot, in Lerwick today.
Direct action protest group the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is planning to make frequent
returns to Shetland over the next two months during its campaign against the
annual slaughter of whales in the Faroe Islands.
Its flagship vessel
Steve Irwin has been at Holmsgarth Pier since Tuesday and was joined last
night by the 35-metre vessel Brigitte Bardot. The crews of both boats are
making final preparations in Lerwick and are due to depart later on Friday
to begin the campaign against the traditional Faroese 'Grind', which
consists of locals corralling pods of migrating pilot whales into shallow
coves as they travel in family groups past the islands.
Brigitte Bardot, which has been given a sleek silver metallic makeover, was
built in the mid 1990s for the purpose of going around the world and was
originally called the Cable and Wireless Adventurer. Her powerful engines
give a maximum speed of 25 knots and she accomplished a new record by
circumnavigating the world in just under 75 days in July 1998.
acquired the Australian-flagged vessel so it could outrun Japanese harpoon
ships in its campaign in Southern Antarctica last winter, initially renaming
it Gojira (Japanese for 'Godzilla') before being forced by a 'cease and
desist' order to change it again.
Captain Locky MacLean, born in
France, brought up in Vancouver, Canada, and with family roots in Mull, told
The Shetland Times the vessel was effectively involved in back-to-back,
year-round campaigning between Antarctica, the Mediterranean and Faroe.
Earlier this year she was in Libyan waters in the Mediterranean trying to
deter poachers looking to illegally catch endangered bluefin tuna.
MacLean said the war in Libya presented an opportunity for poachers, but the
SSCS had been cooperating with NATO warships in the area and providing data
and information to EU fisheries officials. He said NATO workers had been
The Brigitte Bardot's nine crew, plus SSCS founder
and captain of the Steve Irwin Paul Watson, arrived in Shetland on Thursday
evening after a short two-day voyage up the west coast of Britain from
Jersey. MacLean said he had enjoyed sampling single malt whisky in Captain
Flint's until the early hours of Friday. He said Shetland 'feels like home'
having been brought up in a small island in Canada.
It is not the
first time SSCS volunteers have been in the isles either, having been here
on a stealth boat in 2010. 'Now we're just doing it with our own ships,' he
said, adding that with the campaign running until September (when the two
vessels will return to the Antarctic), Shetlanders could expect to see the
Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot making regular 'pit stops' in Lerwick for
the remainder of the summer.