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Sea Shepherd

Region Ocean

Protecting Marine Ecosystems and Wildlife

Age of Union has funded the operating costs of a 56-metre Sea Shepherd vessel for three years, beginning January 2022. The ship, named the M/Y Age of Union, began patrolling waters to prevent the bycatch of dolphins off France’s Atlantic Coast until the end of March. From there, it will journey to the West Coast of Africa to protect marine wildlife for approximately three months before it moves on to future missions to protect ocean ecosystems off the coasts of Europe and Africa.

Covering roughly 70% of its surface and supplying half its oxygen, the ocean is our planet's life support system.

Sea Shepherd is an international marine conservation non-profit organization that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction. It works in partnership with a global network of host governments by providing fully equipped vessels, professional crews, fuel, and other tools that enhance their ability to detect and deter illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in order to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystems of our oceans.

How Age of Union Is Helping

Operation Ocean Killers

Sea Shepherd and Age of Union’s vessel M/Y Age of Union started its first mission off the coast of France, where Sea Shepherd media crew captured shocking footage of over 100,000 dead fish carpeting France’s Bay of Biscay, sparking international outrage. As part of Operation Ocean Killers, the newest Sea Shepherd campaign operated by the M/Y Age of Union vessel aims to shine a spotlight on the giant factory ships that plunder the ocean, taking the majority of the quotas and public subsidies. The ship exposes the destructive fishing practices of the super trawlers currently allowed to fish in French waters off the Atlantic coast, hoping to bring this issue to the spotlight and influence public perceptions. Ultimately, the goal is for the campaign to be successful enough to convince the French government and the general public to finally take action to save our oceans.

Operation Dolphin Bycatch

Every year, thousands of dolphins are killed by unregulated commercial fishing practices in the Bay of Biscay, off France’s Atlantic coast. These deadly fishing methods were first reported in 2018 by scientists from the Pelagis Observatory in La Rochelle when record-high numbers of dead dolphins were recorded.

Not much was done then, as local and national governments failed to take significant action or implement and enforce regulations, the commercial fishing industry continued to receive large subsidies, and the general public stayed in the dark about the issue.

Year after year, the number of dead dolphins washing up on French beaches continues to increase, and bycatch rates are twice as high in France as they are in other countries. On average, 10,000 are killed every year from commercial fishing in the Bay of Biscay. The country’s unintentional dolphin bycatch deaths are also much higher than those recorded as part of the intentional dolphin massacres of the Danish Faroe Islands and Japan’s Taiji Cove combined.

On the front lines, Sea Shepherd France President Lamya Essemlali is fighting to expose these deadly fishing methods and put an end to the ongoing slaughter of dolphins before it’s too late. These practices are at the core of Age of Union’s documentary CAUGHT, premiering at Wildscreen Festival 2022.

People () The

Captain Paul Watson
United States

Captain Paul Watson was born in Canada and is a marine wildlife conservation and environmental activist. Watson majored in communications and linguistics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Watson was one of the founding members and directors of Greenpeace. In 1977, he left Greenpeace and founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - an anti-poaching and direct action group focused on marine conservation activism. A renowned speaker, accomplished author, master mariner, and lifelong environmentalist, Captain Watson has been awarded many honors for his dedication to the oceans and to the planet. Among many commendations for his work, he received the Genesis Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998, was named as one of the Top 20 Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century by Time Magazine in 2000 and was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in Washington D.C. in 2002. He was also awarded the Amazon Peace Prize by the president of Ecuador in 2007. In 2012, Captain Watson became only the second person after Captain Jacques Cousteau to be awarded the Jules Verne Award, dedicated to environmentalists and adventurers. Currently, Watson is a registered speaker with the Jodi Solomon Speakers Bureau of Boston, and regularly gives presentations at colleges and universities in the United States and at special events throughout world.

Lamya Essemlali
President of Sea Shepherd France

Lamya Essemlali is a French environmental activist of Moroccan origin. She's the president of Sea Shepherd France and the campaign coordinator for Sea Shepherd Global. She has a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and an associate degree in Business Communications. At a conference in Paris in 2005, she meets Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd. In 2006, both of them founded Sea Shepherd France, and she became the President of the association in 2008. She has led several campaigns for Sea Shepherd Global in the Mediterranean Sea, the Faroe Islands, and the Indian Ocean to defend bluefin tuna, dolphins, whales, and sharks.

Captain Alex Cornelissen
Chief Executive Officer

Captain Alex Cornelissen is the Chief Executive Officer for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and is also the CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. His extensive experience and strong leadership skills are invaluable assets to the Sea Shepherd movement. Captain Cornelissen has participated in more than 25 Sea Shepherd campaigns over the years, having first joined Sea Shepherd in 2002 as Chief Cook on the Farley Mowat, the organization’s flagship vessel at that time. What was supposed to be a sabbatical turned into a life-changing experience. Over the past 18 years, he served as a crew member on multiple ships in Sea Shepherd’s fleet and worked his way up to the bridge to become the First Officer under Captain Paul Watson. In 2006, he was appointed Captain. He worked continuously on board the ships until the end of 2007 when he took on the role of Director of Operations in the Galapagos Islands. He remained in this position for seven years and ran an effective campaign to stop poaching in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In January 2014, Captain Cornelissen became the CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. Even though his focus shifted from the ships to the general management of the Sea Shepherd movement, he still participates in campaigns when time allows it. His mission is to ensure that Sea Shepherd and its fleet continue to grow, enhancing the organization’s ability to protect marine life worldwide. He is proud to be able to fight side by side with the most inspiring and passionate people he knows.

Captain Thomas Le Coz
Captain of the M/Y Age of Union

Born in France, the ocean has been Thomas’s playground all his life. In 2010 after discovering Sea Shepherd in Australia, Thomas realized how badly treated the oceans were and how critical the situation was. First getting involved with the Sea Shepherd Melbourne chapter, raising awareness and funds and educating the public on marine conservation issues. In 2012, he joined the M/Y Sam Simon, which is now renamed the M/Y Age of Union, for Operation Zero Tolerance in Antarctica. Now a qualified Captain, Thomas has participated in 15 campaigns with Sea Shepherd, aboard the M/Y Age of Union and the M/V Farley Mowat. 5 of those campaigns have been Operation Dolphin Bycatch. When he's not at sea crewing one of Sea Shepherd's vessels, you'll find him free diving or swimming with some of the majestic animals inhabiting the oceans Sea Shepherd is trying to protect.

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