Two ships are currently docked in Fernandina Beach to acquire a new vessel for a potentially dangerous mission to catch poachers.
Rebecca Benjamin Carey, who is part of the 13-member crew of the Sea Shepherd, showed Action News Jax around its newest vessel.
“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we will have someone on watch and their only job is (to) watch the radar and look out for poachers,” said Benjamin Carey.
The Motor Vessel White Holly will soon be added to the Sea Shepherd’s fleet, once the 1940s-built vessel gets retrofitted.
“It was just donated to us by someone from Fernandina,” said Benjamin Carey.
Work on the White Holly is expected to be finished by December. The vessel and crew will then head to the Sea of Cortez near Mexico, where the crew will help protect porpoises. The Sea Shepherd said the propose is the most endangered marine mammal in the world.
The White Holly's mission is clear: to protect the waters from illegal fishing and poachers.
“Illegal fishing globally is a huge problem. It’s like having, basically, a giant black market out there. It’s the equivalent of money laundering,” said Capt. Locky Maclean.
Because the crew often encounters people trying to skirt the law, the work they do is inherently dangerous.
“We’ve had people shoot at us with guns. We get a lot of intimidation, threats,” said Benjamin Carey.
According to Benjamin Carey, they often have government enforcement officials or military on board.
The Sea Shepherd crew is mostly made up of volunteers, including Benjamin Carey.
“I much prefer to be at sea. On land is a bit boring now after doing all this work, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Benjamin Carey.
Benjamin Carey said over the course of four years they were able to save 3,000 marine animals from poachers. For her, that alone makes it all worth it.
The Sea Shepherd said it’ll also be on standby to provide relief in the Caribbean during hurricane season. Last year the group provided aid to islands such as Dominica and Martinique.
It looks like an ordinary ship but its mission is far from ordinary. How Fernandina Beach has become a safe haven for an international crew known as Sea Shepherd. Story at 5:55 on CBS47 @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/2hB5g0SUHK— Lorena Inclán (@LorenaANjax) September 13, 2018
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