Impressions of the "Sea Protection Day" in Bremen, Germany on February 18th 2017
by firmm Team
…organized by Sea Shepherd under the motto „together we can achieve more ".
Text: Monika Morgan; Fotos: Jörg Ossenbrüggen
At 10 o’clock in the morning Marco picks us up at our hotel and brings us to the University of Bremen. We are really grateful for that, as Katharina’s suitcase is packed full with books, folders, DVDs, postcards, quartets, mousepads and much more things that we brought from Switzerland.
There was a hustle and bustle in the building and we were welcomed with open arms by the "Sea Shepherds". Our firmm-table is quickly set up and Katharina has enough time to familiarize herself with the technical equipment for her lecture.
Shortly before noon, the visitors begin to take possession of the "biscuit jar", as is the nickname of the university’s big hall. Former course participants of firmm came especially for the event and greeted Katharina full of joy. The book "Herzenssache" is instantly signed and finds new readers. The visit of our volunteer Edeltraud was especially welcome. She immediately started to beat the drum for firmm and couldn’t be separated from the firmm-table. Thank you very much for your amazing effort!
Finally the Sea Protection Day begins. The event is opened by a funny greeting by the two presenters. The clapping of hands heats up the atmosphere in the hall. A short film with impressive pictures follows.
Then we remember Onno Gross (founder of Deepwave) and Rob Stewart (Sharkwater), both of them have gone far too early from us. We give them standing ovations. In this way we thank them for their remarkable commitment for the protection of the sea and its inhabitants. I have got goose pumps.
Julian Engel and Rafael Cortes report in an impressive way about Sea Shepherds Operation Albacore, which took place last year on the west coast of Africa. Under the leadership of the Gabonese government they fought against the illegal, unregulated and undocumented fishing practices off the coast of Gabon. Apart from the Sea Shepherd activists also soldiers of the Gabonese Marine were on the ship Bob Barker, as well as supervisors of the national fishing authority.
The following injustices were uncovered: On a ship licenced for tuna fishery, hundreds of shark fins were stored. The crews worked under inhumane conditions and even slavery is mentioned. The hygienic conditions in the processing of the fish are catastrophic. By-catch is and remains a huge issue, because apart from the tuna, whale sharks, turtles, dolphins, sharks and other sea creatures get entangled in the gigantic nets. The Sea Shepherd crew achieved during their operation that no more illegal fishing boats enter the waters of Gabon and therefore saved the following animals:
- 4 Whale Sharks
- 2 Bryde Whales
- 4 Sea Turtles
- 1 Sunfish
- many sharks and countless tuna fish
Other African countries are considering working with Sea Shepherd.
Very impressive is the release of a Whale Shark from the net:
Hard to Port, Arne Feuerhahn
The organization Hard to Port is primarily concerned with whaling in Iceland. In 2013 the Icelandic government has increased the catch quota to 229 dwarf whales and 154 fin whales. Hard to Port would now like to persuade the Icelandic government to prohibit whaling. Arne Feuerhahn shows us impressive pictures. Especially easy to remember is a picture showing the port of Reykjavik where you can see the whaling vessels right next to the whale watching boats. Terrible are the pictures of killed whales that often had to suffer for a long time.
Under the motto the change must come from within, Hard to Port tries to convince the population of Iceland that whaling is not necessary anymore and that they can offer the tourists more when the whales are swimming in their natural environment than lying dead on the plate. Unfortunately, the owner of the whaling company is strongly associated with the right-wing government, so it is even more important that the change in the way people think starts within the population.
Marine Debris Campaign
Our oceans and waters are full of plastic. Sea Shepherd launched an international campaign to fight against it. Together with other organisations, public schools, water sport schools as well as private persons they actively take action against the garbage in our oceans. „Beach Clean ups“are carried out on beaches, lakes and rivers, but also in forests. To facilitate the organization of clean-ups a checklist and a data-collection sheet are available under the following link:
It always astonishes how huge the amounts of collected waste are. The data collection enables a detailed evaluation. It shows whether it is touristic or industrial garbage. When, where, in what quantities the garbage emerges can be used to gain information. Was the garbage deposed of on site or was it washed ashore from far away? All these information help in the battle against pollution. We all are called upon to contribute. Therefore Sea Shepherd begins the sensitization already with children. With success they offer school visits and project works on the subject: "Why a clean ocean is so important. “
Beachcleaner, Anne Mäusbacher
Anne Mäusbacher is also committed to clean oceans. Spending her holidays on a beach scattered with plastic trash? No way, Anne didn’t want that and right away organized a beach-clean up on site. She quickly realized that already the creation of plastic waste should be prevented. Thus, together with her family, she cleared the entire household of plastic. How that works, you can find out on her website:
A big highlight was the Mega Clean Up with 120 pupils. Also a group of stand-up paddlers got enthusiastic about the garbage collection campaign. With the "Kids for the Ocean" project, they begin already with the little ones and show them in an age-appropriate manner why the ocean is worth protecting and how already they can contribute.
Sea Shepherd – School-project
Voll motiviert wird das Schulprojekt vorgestellt, das mit viel Freude auch auf die Kleinesten ausgerichtet ist. Überall in Deutschland entstehen nun größere und kleinere Gruppen, die Schulbesuche machen.
Katharina Heyer, firmm
Katharina tells us how she heard about the whales and dolphins in the Strait of Gibraltar, and that on her first tour she was able to observe Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins. Her curiosity awakened and she contacted the university of Basel. The Marine Biology Institute didn’t know by then, which whale species are present in the Strait of Gibraltar. With the aim of protecting the animals in the very busy Strait, she founded only a short time after firmm (foundation for information and research on marine mammals). She tells about the dangers the animals have to face, talks about successes but also setbacks in the last twenty years. She presents the Common and the Striped Dolphins, the Bottlenose Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales, Fin Whales and the Orcas. Lively Katharina tells about her experiences with the marine mammals. When she calls the little, sturdy dolphin „dumpling ", the whole room bursts into laughter. Fascinated the spectators watch the film of a Sperm Whale mating.
Katharina explains that she can only take responsibility for offering the Whale Watching tours in combination with the information work, the research and the protection of the animals. 1500 charlas (information talks before the tours) are held in seven months by volunteers and contribute to sensitize people for the oceans and the animals living in them. Because only what humans know and love, they are willing to protect. www.firmm.org
Captain and Sea Shepherd CEO Alex Cornelissen
Sea Shepherd Captain and CEO Alex Cornelissen reports about die campaign in Antarctic waters. They searched for and found the Japanese Whaling Ship Nisshin Maru by helicopter within the borders of the Australian whale protection area. On deck a dead Minke Whale was lying. When the ship crew noticed the Sea Shepherd helicopter, they immediately began to cover the whale with a tarpaulin. On the other two whaling ships the harpoons were covered immediately and then they escaped. So the whalers had no more time to catch and kill further whales in the protected zone. However, they are still searched for. Unfortunately their ships are faster than the Sea Shepherd ships. The many storms, the dense fog and the extremely high swell this year, certainly contributed to the fact that the whaling quota of 333 animals luckily couldn’t be reached. Sea Shepherd plans for the next whaling season the use of two ships; more are not available at the moment because they are involved in other campaigns.
Axel tells us that Sea Shepherd is now represented in 20 countries. Various sport teams wear the Sea Shepherd logo on their t-shirts; including a soccer team in England. This is a great way to carry the message of Sea Shepherd out into the world. Sea Shepherd is a movement and not an organization. All are helping and are making an effort for the same goal, namely to protect the oceans. Now is the time, because otherwise the seas will be empty in 20 years.
With a lot of humour Alex presents us Dr.Bronner’s, a manufacturer of pure, natural soap in the USA. They already support Sea Shepherd for quite a while. The CEO Mark Bronner travelled especially from the USA to tell the interesting story of the company. Dr. Bronner‘s is committed to fair trade, sustainable cultivation and fair wages. They share their profits with the people to whom they owe it: their employees and, above all, nature. www.drbronner.ch
Alex final words express the hope that the evening has lit a spark and awoke the passion for the oceans. We all together can make a difference.
Further information about Sea Shepherd: www.sea-shepherd.de
Full of impressions we head back to the firmm-table. Questions are answered, flyers distributed, and the one or other thing is sold. Soon, however, it is time to clear the table and pack the suitcase, which now is a whole lot lighter. Tired we return to our hotel. After a short break, Marco and Jenny pick us up for a short city tour. We are amazed by the atmospheric Bremen market square and admire the illuminated town hall. Of course we touch the hooves of the donkey of the town musicians of Bremen that are said to bring luck and stroll through the romantic Böttchergasse.
During a superb dinner at a Mexican restaurant we recall the eventful day.
We would like to thank Sea Shepherd for the invitation and the great organization, Jenny and Marco for the taxi-service and the city tour, and the “Bremer Tiertafel” for the fine food during the breaks.