02 February 2006

South Africa: Anti-whalers do it for pleasure - skipper

The SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) is demanding erroneous paperwork from an anti-whaling ship detained in Cape Town harbour, its captain said on Saturday.

"It is impossible for us to satisfy the demands for compliance in order to lift the detention order," said Captain Paul Watson.

Watson said the problem was that "if South Africa classifies us as a commercial vessel and Canada has us registered as a pleasure craft, the certificates required for a commercial vessel cannot be issued by Canada to a yacht".

"What we do on is at our pleasure... We harass outlaw fishermen for pleasure... We go watching for whalers for pleasure.... We hunt whalers and sealers for pleasure. In fact I derive a great deal of pleasure from defending marine life on the high seas."

The Farley Mowat, which has been harassing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic, was detained this week, for "seaworthy/con-compliance", according Samsa.

"We entered Cape Town as heroes for battling the pirate whalers in the Southern Oceans but it was not long until the bureaucrats tried to shut us down," said Watson.

The ship had sailed for 50 days "chasing and intervening against illegal Japanese whalers".

"As soon as we entered the port we were ordered detained for not having a security certificate onboard. We've never had one for the simple reason that only commercial ships carry this certificate and we are registered as a pleasure craft."

Samsa's acting operations manager, Captain Saleem Modak, informed Watson that they had received a request from the Canadian transport department to check specific documents.

"He refused to show me this request in writing," Watson said.

"He said that I was required to have a Safety Inspection Certificate, a Manning Certificate, and a Security Certificate.

"I replied that these certificates were not required for a Canadian yacht. He answered that he did not care and that I had to provide the certificates or else the ship would be detained until the certificates were provided."

Watson said Canada would not issue these certificates for a yacht.

"What South Africa is now asking for we would gladly comply with, if it was possible for us to do so."

He said he had met officials at the Canadian Consulate in Cape Town and they were looking into the matter.

"In the meantime, we are being forced to pay a large daily fee for an inadequate dock and we are forced to pay for a 24-hour independent security guard."

Source: www.iol.co.za


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