Marine conservationist activists, Sea Shepherd, have launched a social media campaign to help raise a $1 million plus bond to free their ship at the heart of a UK lawsuit.
The NGO had their ship, Steve Irwin, seized as part of on-going legal action brought by the Maltese firm Fish & Fish Ltd.
The civil lawsuit against Sea Shepherd was brought after a row off the Libyan coast in June last year when the Steve Irwin intervened in a Fish & Fish ship when they freed thousands of Bluefin Tuna. The NGO claims the fish was caught illegally after the season closed, that there was no inspector on board and the Maltese firm did not have the appropriate paperwork. Fish & Fish were in possession of the right paperwork, a defence issued by the Malta Rural Affairs Ministry states. The firm also alleges two divers were injured during Sea Shepherd's action and that they have lost over 1 million euros and launched the legal action to claim damages. The Steve Irwin has been detained in Scotland, off the Shetland Islands with a bond of $1.4 million. If the money is not paid the ship may be sold.
In a message on Sea Shepherd's website, Captain and founder of the NGO Paul Watson launched a campaign to help raise the money to pay the bond.
"The Steve Irwin must sail immediately to protect endangered pilot whales in the Faeroe Islands." He writes, "When that mission is complete, we sail onto the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to stop the murderous Japanese whaling fleet."
"You've already helped save thousands of whales and untold numbers of other marine creatures. But unless we get our ship back, a lot of whales will die tragic and needless deaths.
Please help free the Steve Irwin so we can return to sea, doing what we do best - defending life in our oceans."
The campaign has already gained support on Twitter where the message has been retweeted by Sea Shepherd's 41,000 + followers. Actress Alyssa Milano has added her voice to the campaign on the social networking site, linking to the donation page.
Top Image Credit: © Sea Shepherd Conservation Society