Lawsuit leaves ‘Whale Wars’ Ship High and Dry

Crew member Benjamin Potts of the Steve Irwin on "Whale Wars" (Photo: Animal Planet)

One of the ships seen on Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” has hit rough seas – it’s being detained by British authorities pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought against the ship by a group of fishermen.

And according to various accounts, unless the organization that owns the Irwin – the activist Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – posts some kind of bond amounting to nearly $1.5 million, the ship will continue to be held indefinitely at a dock in the Shetland Islands — off the northeast coast of Scotland — or possibly sold.

The lawsuit is being brought by a group of Maltese fishermen who say the Irwin interfered with their business when it tried to stop them from catching the bluefin tuna from which they make their living. The Irwin – named for the late “Croc Hunter,” Australian TV personality Steve Irwin – and other SSCS vessels are active in pursuing those they suspect of illegal fishing. In the bluefin case, SSCS felt the Maltese fishermen were not only fishing out of season but had already caught their legal quota of the endangered fish.

The group is also active in the anti-whaling movement – the activity from which the Animal Planet TV show gets its name. The group credits itself with various victories in the battle against whaling – which is still an active industry in some parts of the world, particularly in Japan.

In fact, SSCS supporters note that the Irwin was due to sail imminently to the site of an annual whale slaughter in Denmark’s Faeroe Islands to try and stop the carnage.

The SSCS has shown a propensity for naming its vessels after TV personalities – another one of its ships is named the Bob Barker.

Watch this clip of the Steve Irwin closing in on a Japanese whaling vessel here:

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