The vessel sitting at Shelburne Marine Terminal, dilapidated and ruined, since September 2014 was once the proud flagship of the Sea Shepherd activist organization with a global itinerary.
“Eleven adventurous, incredible years of effective campaigns for seals, whales, dolphins, sharks and fish,” said Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the controversial master and commander of seven Sea Shepherd ships, including the Farley Mowat.
According to its mission statement, the Sea Shepherd, established in 1977, is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization.
The Farley Mowat was the flagship of Sea Shepherd from 1997 until 2008, carrying wildlife conservation activists to the Canadian seal hunt, the Faroe Islands, Antarctica, Galapagos, Pitcairn Island, Tahiti, South Africa, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Costa Rica and other spots around the world.
Watson said the ship carries fond memories for the 2,000 volunteers with the organization throughout the years who have been following its story closely.
“People are nostalgic and have been picking up pieces of the Farley Mowat for the museum,” he said.
During its last sail for the organization, the vessel headed toward the Canadian seal hunt of 2008. “It was her final mission,” said Watson.
The crew had two objectives: draw the world’s attention to the seal hunt and retire the Farley Mowat.
“We needed a major campaign to focus attention on a bill before the European Parliament to ban seal products,” said Watson.
As the Farley Mowat, according to Watson, came upon the 12-mile limit of national waters, a security team descended on to the ship.
“The crew were arrested,” he said.
However, the campaign caught international attention and the bill passed through the European parliament.
The Sea Shepherd bailed out its captain and first officer with $10,000 worth of toonies and the Canadian government ordered the group to pay $75,000 for the release of the ship.
Watson said it was a part of the organization’s plan in retiring the ship and the government fell right into their trap.
“The ship was no longer our responsibility,” he said.
Despite the history and connection, Watson is not about to take back the ship. She has been replaced by the Farley Mowat II.
Hearing the latest news of the Farley Mowat as an unwelcome guest on Shelburne’s shores, Watson said the onus should not be on the Town of Shelburne to deal with the derelict.
“This should not be the responsibility of the taxpayers,” he said. “The Government of Canada should pay the cost.”
“They wanted it, they got it and they are still stuck with it eight years later,” he said.