In this edition of “A day in the life of” we interview Andre Ratishawser who is a member of the Sea Shepherd. We find out more about being part of the Sea Shepherd movement and some of the unique experiences that it offers.
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Animal Activist and member of the Sea Shepherd movement
Andre is an active Sea Shepherd member which is a non profit conservation society which defends, conserves and protects all marine life. Due to population explosion the ocean is in peril at the moment. Fish stocks are collapsing around the world, millions of sharks are killed for their fins, Tuna fish are hunted for their meat and countless dolphins, whales and other marine life are killed unnecessary. People of the world need to know what is going on and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society works hard in creating awareness and protecting the ocean.
What is a Sea Shepard?
Sea Shepherd is a non profit Global Marine Conservation society or rather a movement. It is a peaceful, direct intervention to protect and conserve all marine life.
How did ‘The Sea Shepard Come about?
The Sea Shepherd started in 1977 by a guy called Captain Paul Watson. He was an original founder of Green Peace but got frustrated with all the talking, debating and negotiating with governments and corporations. He started his own organisation called ‘The Sea Shepard’ and now after 41 years of activism he has 10 ships and is running several campaigns around the world.
How did you get involved?
In 2007 I was working on a yacht in the States in the Caribbean. I am a qualified ships captain. While working on one of the yachts, I picked up a book called ‘Whale Warrior’s“. It was about a campaign in Antarctica to stops the Japanese from harpooning the whales. The book comes highly recommend – it was a fascinating read. I was so impressed by the dedication of the crew to stop these barbarians from killing these sentiment beings, that I wanted to get involved. After that I started donating money, followed their campaigns and tried to spread the word. In order for me to keep my captains licence current I have to put in a few hours a year at sea, so I decided I wanted to use my expertise and get involved.
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What projects or campaigns have you been involved in?
In 2015 I was off to the Faroe Islands to defend the whales in a barbaric ritual where the Danish herd pilot whales into coves and slaughter them. I was the captain of the Sam Simon a 56m ship with 24 crew from 9 different countries to defend front line against the Danish Navy and Feronese people. The Sea Shepherd wanted to create awareness and highlight this totally unnecessary “cultural heritage” that has no need in this day and age.
If you would like to find out more, watch this documentary about the Faroe Island annual whale slaughtering here
Gabon, West Africa
In 2016 I was part of the start of a campaign in Gabon off the West Coast of Africa called Albacore which is French for tuna. The Gabon government invited Sea Shepherd to get involved and assist in illegal tuna fishing which was devastating their ocean’s resources. Gabon has no active Navy so we collaborated with the fisheries department of Gabon. Fleets from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Spain and France follow the migratory course of tuna fish where they end up in Gabon to feed and breed. These fishing trawlers use huge nets that scoop up the pockets of tuna. The problem is that its not only tuna that get caught but other marine life such turtles, whales and dolphins.
I was captain to a ship called Bob Barker with 34 crew we worked together taking on these vessels. We boarded them inspecting all their fish holes and licences, 90% of them were illegal. It was a huge success and resulted in the vessels Captain, 1st officer and chief engineer taken to jail or given hefty fines.
What is the average day out at sea?
A average day on the sea vessel consists of patrolling the waters and scouting the horizon for any ship activity. When a ship is spotted we would check them on radar, plot the course ahead and head over to them. We then demanded that we come to inspect their ship, in Gabon it was easier as we had armed personal to back us up during inspections this proved to be very successful, the illegal vessels would then be towed back to port.
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All the food on the Sea Shepherd vessels is vegan and it is incredible. All food is sponsored and donated by local companies which usually consists of fresh organic vegetables.
Any hair raising moments?
In the Faeroe islands we came face to face with huge navy vessels. We ignored all their demands to leave their waters and they demanded to board our vessel which I refused so there was a stand off. There were helicopters and planes flying over us from the Danish Military. It was nerve racking as we were in their waters and technically they could have shot us down. Luckily they did not want negative publicity and they knew they were in the wrong. Sea Shepherd’s most powerful tool is the camera and social media. We take many photographs and footage and blast it all over internet to get the information out there.
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What have you learn’t from being part of the Sea Shepard?
The Sea Shepherd is a direct access group – that is what I love about them. They get stuck in and do the talking afterwards. We are standing up for the whales and dolphins and for the marine eco systems. Basically we don’t listen to government and corporate organisations, dolphins and whales are our clients we work for them.
Sea Shepherd is a completely voluntary organisation and it is incredible to be surrounded by such dedicated, committed activists. It really humbles me to see the determination from my crew members to do what is morally right and protect all sea life. To see the results we are getting globally is truly amazing.
To do what is morally right is a code we live by. We know we are standing up for the right reasons, to stand in that truth and to not be fearful of the bullying tactics of governments, navies and corporations. Our oceans are being destroyed without any regard or consequences of the future. I am hoping to go back in 2018 to work off the coast of West Africa.
How does one get involved in Sea Shepard?
To get involved in The Sea Shepherd you need a skill. Example: Welding or if you are a chef or doctor and could contribute being on one of the ships. You can go online to Seashepherd.org and click on the volunteer page, put in your credentials and you will be called up when or if needed. If you cant be on the sea you can still become a activist by posting stuff on social media which has a huge impact.
People can also become a activist by standing up for the environment – she is really suffering at the moment. It is very rewarding to be of service to a good cause and get involved. Locally you can join beach clean ups or anything to do with bringing awareness to save animals or the environment. I encourage people to take on a plant based diet, I have been a vegan for 6 years. It’s a powerful choice that everyone has. The meat industry is the biggest ocean predator right now.
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You can find Andre at the Conscious Cafe in Hillcrest, South Africa. He is a very down to earth easy to talk to guy. He is more than happy to answer any questions you have on Sea Shepherd or veganism. Andre – it was amazing meeting you. We wish you all the best for 2018 and we salute the work you do.
Soul Drifters tip – Join the global movement to eliminate plastic drinking straws from our landfills, our streams, our oceans, and our beaches. Have you said no the the straw?
Ever heard of the Sea Shepherd movement? What organisations do you recommend to save our oceans and environment? Let us know if you have any insiders advice or suggestions in the comment below.
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* Although we try to ensure that all information provided is correct, we cannot be held liable for any errors. All opinions are our own. Images was provided by Andre as part of creating awareness of the Sea Shepherd movement. Images may not be used for advertising and commercial purposes. This page may contain affiliate links which allows us to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps us with the cost to keep this blog running.