“A Most Dangerous Precedent” Has Been Set With MS Steve Irwin

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 158
January 20, 2009


Fellow blogger D. Peter Boucher of Nautical Log brings us a post regarding the controversial anti-whaling vessel MS Steve Irwin.  The Nautical Log gives these opinions on the MS Steve Irwin in their post titled “A Most Dangerous Precedent

According to CAPT. Paul Watson, the Master of the Dutch ship MS “Steve Irwin”, his vessel is due to arrive in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on January 17th. 2009. This is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel that is engaged in anti-whaling activities in the Southern Ocean. It operates without any legal authority from any government including the United Nations. It is the apparent intention of this Dutch ship to request refuelling so as to resume its Southern Ocean illegal activities. As has been well documented by the series “Whale Wars” in years past these activities, as conducted, are illegal under International Maritime Law.

Since the vessel has a Flag State of The Netherlands it is the duty of that Flag State to prevent further illegal action by this vessel and its crew. In an incident this season the MS “Steve Irwin” was in a close quarter situation with the WRV “Kaiko Maru”. It is now the duty of the Netherlands maritime safety authority to conduct a full investigation to determine just what happened and resolve if indeed the MS “Steve Irwin” is to blame or is a contributing factor to this incident. This vessel should NOT be refuelled until this is done and will thereby be unable to sail from Hobart until the IMO-ISM investigation is completed. Also at that time the Master may be questioned about an “incitement to riot” fee of US$10,000.00 offered any person who can delay the WHV “Yushun Maru#2” from undergoing and completing repairs in Surabaya, Indonesia. This is, in and of itself, a crime under UNCLOS and again deserves a separate full inquiry.

Also at this same time it is the duty of the Port State together with the Flag State, that is Australia and The Netherlands, to examine all the Officers documentation for correct position held Licensing, its validity and that it is properly issued. In addition all crewmembers should have their seafarers papers inspected for validity and that their STCW training is valid, current and properly issued.

Why is NAUTICAL LOG so concerned about this vessel? Those of you who are seafarers readily understand the volume of documentation, training and personal expense required for us to pursue our careers at sea. For those of you who are not professional seafarers some research on the Internet will show you just what is required. Yet this vessel, MS “Steve Irwin” is allowed to prowl the seas as it chooses. By NOT stopping this vessel now this week and bringing her crew under full investigation is setting a most dangerous precedent. If she is allowed to sail every seafarer in the world will be legally justified to obtain an exemption in this same manner from IMO, Certification, Licensing, STCW, TWIC, ISM Codes, UNCLOS et cetera et cetera, under this Legal Precedent set by the MS “Steve Irwin”. The time has passed when enough is enough, seafarers action is needed, why is this Captain an exception and none of the rest of us are given these privileges. It is my most sincere hope that this exemption will be claimed by the Australian seafarers unions, followed by the unions of other maritime nations. In fairness what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Since this post, the MS Steve Irwin has refueled in Hobart and is set to depart today to continue their anti-whaling efforts according to Australia’s The Age.  Nautical Log follows with this post following The Netherlands’ and Australia’s allowance and aid for the continuation of it’s illegal missions.

Fellow seafarers you will be “pleased” to know that the Dutch ship MS “Steve Irwin”, CAPT. Paul Watson, has arrived in Hobart, TAZ. According to “The Mercury” a Tasmanian newspaper the vessel will refuel on Tuesday and then return to sea.  So now we have an international maritime disgrace and a legal precedent set.

This action by the Australian Government and lack of action by The Netherlands Government will allow all the rest of the world’s mariners to seek similar exemption from their maritime authorities. One is now free to prowl the Oceans without papers, crash into other ships, throw acid, board ships under way and generally behave like a maritime thug. So why, one might well ask, do we bother with the Horn of Africa anti-piracy patrol.

Just contact your friendly local maritime law firm to claim this Legal Precedent exemption. NAUTICAL LOG used to be a big supporter of IMO, ISM Code, STCW, MCA et cetera as a former Ocean Master, cruise ship Safety Officer and STCW Instructor. Not any more. NAUTICAL LOG will not renew any maritime papers we now hold ever again. A small protest perhaps but a case of “putting ones money where ones mouth is”.

Now let’s hear your opinions in the comments.



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