Updated December 07, 2015 18:59:50

Map: Williamstown 3016

Meet some of the crew on board the Sea Shepherd’s Steve Irwin as they embark on their most recent mission – taking on illegal tooth fish poachers of Antarctica.

By Margaret Burin

Details on the outside of the ship
The Steve Irwin

Interesting details:

  • All meals on board is vegan
  • The pantry is filled with half a tonne of potatoes and 100kg of oranges
  • The crew needs 1,620 toilet rolls to last them three months
  • Each crew member is permitted to send one text-based satellite e-mail per day

The Steve Irwin is abuzz with anticipation.

A lot of of its 35-person crew have spent the previous a number of months living on board the 40-year-old ship although it’s been docked in Williamstown, west of Melbourne, for key repairs.

Now it will leave on its first mission in 3 years, targeting a crime syndicate accused of poaching overfished Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish.

Toothfish are often named Chilean sea bass or mero on leading-finish restaurant menus about the planet.

A 1,500-tonne catch can be worth tens of millions of dollars, earning them the name “white gold” in the fishing trade.

Operation Icefish 2015-206 will be the initial sea campaign for a lot of of the volunteers on board the Steve Irwin.

Their captain is Siddharth Chakravarty.

Steve Irwin Captain Sid Chakravarty

No one wants to come in and hit a ship that has a reputation of getting hit and not moving. So the much more you stand your ground, your reputation requires care of it.

Siddharth Chakravarty, India, captain

The Steve Irwin crew

The position of captain and a handful of other critical and hugely skilled jobs on board are the only paid roles.

Sid has been at sea since the age of 18 when he joined the Merchant Navy in India.

“There is people who are vets and physicians, carpenters, diesel mechanics and divers,” he says.

“It is not a little job to just get on a ship and take it down to Antarctica.”

Comms hand Maddie Rasmussen

We help the watch officers … so lots of navigation function, maintaining track of the radars, exactly where our position is, really cool stuff that I in no way in a thousand years believed I would ever do.

Maddie Rasmussen, QLD, quartermaster

Cook Chloe Kobel

In the galley everything’s donation, so I guess you just have to be creative and attempt and hold the nutritional demands balanced. We’ll be cooking 3 meals a day and a snack, so feeding lots of hungry hard-operating vegans.

Chloe Kobel, WA, second cook

Deckhand Bernd Mutz

Occasionally it is genuinely dirty work. But when you believe about the big image, to do this important work, it is all a element of the job to get this operation running.

Bernd Mutz, Germany, deckhand

Bosun Alistair Allan

My job is to be prepared, have the modest boat fuelled and everything in it, so that can Sid can stand up, knock on my door at 1am and say ‘get the boat in the water in five minutes’.

Alistair Allan, QLD, bosun

Deckhand Damien Rotella

We are fighting rust, painting, cleaning a lot for safety. If there’s a fire, it really is frequently since of a dirty place, and a fire on a ship is the worst factor that can occur.

Damien Rotella, France, deckhand

Engine room hand Leigh Acott

We function under the chief engineer, and fundamentally just do a complete heap of maintenance, what ever is necessary in the engine room. Our shifts are four hours on eight hours off, seven days a week while we’re at sea. So there will be people on the ship that I basically will not see for two months.

Leigh Acott, VIC, oiler

Engine room hand Kat Taylor

Cleaning out the bilge in the engine area, the really bottom of the ship where all the muck accumulates, that would have to be the most unglamourous job I’ve ever carried out.

Kat Taylor, VIC, engine room hand

The mission: Operation Icefish 2015-2016

Sid was on the final campaign targeting illegal toothfish vessels, a mission Sea Shepherd celebrates as a huge achievement.

It saw the Spanish-owned Thunder getting chased for 110 days ahead of sinking off the West African coast.

Bob Barker responds to distress call from Thunder Photo: Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker had been tailing the Thunder boat for several months and received a distress call from the vessel. (Supplied: Sea Shepherd)

Sea Shepherd believes the ship was deliberately sunk to destroy evidence.

“The ship I was on picked up 72 kilometres of fishing gear more than five weeks from two kilometres below the surface of the ocean,” Sid says.

“There was this monstrous net that was coming up from two kilometres beneath the surface sitting on a pristine ecosystem, bringing up crabs and smaller fish.”

Sid, who was captain of the Sam Simon, then had to rescue its crew.

“These guys have shown violence towards us they’ve hurled chains and metal objects at us and certainly they’ve sunk their ship due to the fact we’ve chased them so there is that notion of hostility,” he says.

“In the end there was nobody else available so below our obligations for the sea we had to choose them up.

“We prepped the Sam Simon for two hours, we had segregated decks, we had the cook put out meals for them, we place some tarpaulins up, and then I got the biggest men on the ship to all grow to be security guards.”

In October the Supreme Court of Sao Tome and Principe, an African island nation, jailed three Thunder officers for recklessness and forgery offences, and fined them 15 million euros for their operation’s pollution and damage to the atmosphere.

This most current Operation Icefish campaign aims to finish the job.

Which signifies for at least the subsequent 3 months, this is exactly where the crew will call property.

Cold weather suits and punching bags hang on deck
Painted passageways on board
The wash room sign
Inside the change room
The living area on board

The Steve Irwin crew aims to document, expose and shut down remaining vessels believed to be operating under international crime syndicates.

“I think toothfish are the sharks of the deep, so they’re playing a really important part in the ecosystem,” Sid says.

“And any illegality around them demands to be combated.”

As captain, Sid has a duty to hold his crew safe.

Fire training on the Steve Irwin
Cold weather deckhand suits hand in closet

But the nature of their work signifies security can not be guaranteed.

“A single of the things that is asked of the individuals is no matter whether they are willing to threat their lives to save the life of a whale, or a toothfish,” Sid says.

“To bring protection to marine life, you have to stand your ground.

Siddharth Chakravarty, captain

“That permits for robust and bold actions to be taken by the captains and campaign leaders.”

That frequently indicates standing his ground, in the face of much larger ships.

“Really often, it gets to a chicken game and they come straight at you and they attempt to nudge you out,” Sid says.

“To bring protection to marine life, you have to stand your ground.

“Nobody wants to come in and hit a ship that has a reputation of being hit and not moving.”

Subjects: marine-parks, conservation, activism-and-lobbying, williamstown-3016, melbourne-3000

First posted December 07, 2015 18:56:38

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