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Tuna war: Greenpeace keeping Sea Shepherd at arm's length

Video shows the clash on Thursday between Sea Shepherd volunteers and tuna fishermen.

Ships from the Sea Shepherd anti-tuna fishing campaign and Greenpeace crossed paths in the Central Mediterranean yesterday, although the latter did not appear to be pleased with the encounter.

The Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin rammed into a tuna pen on Thursday in an incident during which two Maltese fishermen were injured. Sea Shepherd denied injuring anyone but said the fisherman's boat Rosaria Tuna slammed into the Steve Irwin.

In its diary of Operation Blue Rage: Day Eleven of the Mediterranean Patrol, the Steve Irwin's Captain, Paul Watson said the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was encountered off the Libyan coast heading Southwest towards the coordinates of the cage which Sea Shepherd 'liberated yesterday'.

"We changed course to intercept them with the intention of communicating with them, but they turned around and fled from us at full speed. We followed and we were able to catch up with them around 1630 hours.

"It was actually quite nice to have the two ships together and as we closed in on them a pod of dolphins appeared and began riding the bow waves of both the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. My fellow Greenpeace co-founder, the late Bob Hunter, would have surely taken that as a sign for us to work together.

"The Arctic Sunrise radioed us and asked what our intentions were and we said we were simply doing a photo-op, and by the way how about joining us to come save the fish.

Arctic Sunrise, this is the Steve Irwin. We’ve located a cage with about 800 illegal fish in it and this will be a wonderful opportunity for our two organizations to work together,” said Steve Irwin First Officer Locky MacLean.

"After a moment’s hesitation, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise Joel Stewart radioed back and simply said, “That’s a negative.”

“Ok,” said Locky, “Arctic Sunrise, thanks for the photo-op, have a great day. We’re off to save some fish.”

Captain Watson said it was evident that the Arctic Sunrise did not want an aerial shot of the two ships together side-by-side so they began to go in circles to prevent it. However, the superior speed of the Steve Irwin allowed them to get the picture and they broke off.

The captain said he was quite happy to see the Greenpeace ships in the Mediterranean.

"They had not been here for the last couple of years but when they heard Sea Shepherd was coming to defend the bluefin, they mobilized the Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior. They made a couple of failed attempts to free some fish, they lost two of their expensive inflatable boats, and they had one of their crew seriously injured, so there is no doubt they are making a serious effort to bring attention to this threat facing the survival of the bluefin.

"We wish they would consider returning to the Southern Ocean to defend the whales with us also, but many things have changed for Greenpeace over the years and that inspirational fire that once motivated my colleagues and I when we formed Greenpeace four decades ago has cooled considerably."

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