Why We Fight

Our Oceans and its inhabitants are dying from over-fishing and habitat decimation.

Poachers plunder marine sanctuaries with impunity, and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing goes unchecked in the high seas far from the eyes of international authorities and public scrutiny. International laws and agreements exist to protect ocean wildlife and marine habitats, but they can be difficult to enforce because of lack of political will, insufficient economic resources, or transnational boundaries that blur jurisdiction. Where a law enforcement vacuum exists, Sea Shepherd acts to fill that void.

Why We Fight

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that threatens the health of marine ecosystems as well as the livelihood of coastal fishermen. Legal fishing operations that observe quotas and by-catch laws are already forced to compete for fewer and fewer fish, yet an estimated 15-40% of the total global catch is caught illegally. The problem is particularly acute for developing nations which often lack the resources to enforce local fishing laws, which is why Sea Shepherd works with governments like in Mexico and Gabon to make a real difference for the future of our oceans.

Why We Fight

Marine Mammal Slaughter

Sea Shepherd has been using direct action to stop illegal whale poachers around the world since 1979. After commercial whaling almost drove whales to extinction, a global moratorium was put into place in 1986. However, some countries have refused to recognize the ban. Norway and Iceland continue commercial whaling, and the Faroe Islands continue to kill pilot whales and other cetaceans traveling through their coastal waters. The Japanese send their fleet all the way to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary each Austral summer to slaughter hundreds whales under the guise of “scientific research”, a claim rejected by the IWC as well as the International Court of Justice and the Australian Federal Courts. Since the first trip to Antarctica in 2002, Sea Shepherd’s Southern Ocean Whale Defense direct-action campaigns have successfully prevented the slaughter of over 6000 whales. Sea Shepherd has also opposed the slaughter of seals in Canada since 1978. Despite a ban on the import of seal products into the US and EU, Canada continues to club thousands of seal pups to death every year.


“Japan has declared war on the whales in the Southern Ocean. The signatory nations to the relevant conventions have not done anything but talk. No other NGO, aside from Sea Shepherd, is doing anything to intervene.” - Captain Alex Cornelissen

Marine Debris

Marine debris is choking our oceans, creating a devastating impact on marine ecosystems world-wide. Alongside consumer items such as plastic bottles and straws, aluminum cans, rubber balloons, plastic bags and cigarette lighters, is fishing gear such as line, nets, ropes, hooks, and buoys lost or discarded at sea. Marine debris is a danger to all marine life including birds, sharks, turtles and marine mammals, causing injury or death through drowning, entanglement, or starvation following ingestion. It’s also a serious health risk for humans, because microplastics ingested by marine animals absorb manmade toxins such as PCBs, DDT, BPA and mercury, whose effects are intensified as they pass up the food chain, making it another good reason to stop eating fish altogether.

Why We Fight

Offshore Drilling & Spills

Offshore drilling accidents, blowouts and spills have caused some of the biggest manmade environmental disasters of our time, affecting marine wildlife and the livelihood of coastal communities. Sea Shepherd teamed up with Ocean Alliance in 2014 to research the long-term impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the use of toxic chemicals that dispersed oil throughout the waters and food chain. To prevent the possibility of another disastrous spill in our oceans, in 2016 Sea Shepherd helped successfully block BP from establishing new offshore drilling operations in the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight.

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