Belizean flagged ship de-registered for threatening whalersPresumably this once again puts Sea Shepherd in a bit of a pickle - the Farley Mowat is apparently also carrying a helicopter which will be indispensable to them in searching for the whaling fleet, once they arrive in the Ross sea vicinity. Their other newly purchased ship, apparently fast enough to keep pace with the whaling fleet, will be rendered ineffective without a location with which to find the research vessels.
It is a common practice for vessels that engage in illegal fishing to be punished by the nation whose flag they happen to fly. But last week, instead of a rogue fisherman being sanctioned it was a ship suspected of engaging in radical environmental action that lost its papers. According to a release from IMMARBE, the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, the motor vessel "Farley Mowat" was registered to fly the Belize flag on December fifteenth as a pleasure craft that would also conduct research on the Belize Barrier Reef. Subsequent investigations, however, revealed that the ship was in Australian waters about to embark on an all too familiar mission to ram and otherwise interfere with ships engaged in whaling. The owners of "Farley Mowat" admitted to IMMARBE that the ship would be put on loan to the Sea Shepard Conservation Society, a militant environmental group which since 1979 has engaged in various aggressive actions against the whaling industry, including sabotage and ramming. According to the IMMARBE release, although Belize has voted with the anti-whaling bloc at the International Whaling Commission, it cannot condone acts that threaten life and property at sea. Consequently, the "Farley Mowat" was de-registered by IMMARBE on December twenty-ninth. Although in its early years as a "flag of convenience" registry IMMARBE earned a reputation for laxity, it has recently cleaned up its act to the point where it is one of only nine registries in the world to hold the U.S. Coastguard QUALSHIP 21 certification.
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