Sea Shepherd Vessel Allegedly Forced To Leave Fiji

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Authorities reportedly offered no explanation

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 19, 2012) – The Sea Shepherd organization’s Brigitte Bardot trimaran left Fiji’s shores yesterday, claiming it was ordered to leave by authorities.

This came less than a week after the anti-whaling vessel was given permission to enter Fiji waters.

Brigitte Bardot captain Siddharth Giakravarty said the vessel was boarded by naval and Immigration officials who then told him it was no longer allowed in Fiji waters.

"The Navy and Immigration officials came on board and told us that we needed to depart the country," Mr. Giakravarty said.

"At noon, they escorted us out from the Royal Suva Yacht Club. Once we reached the breakwaters of the Suva Harbour the vessels escorting us turned back to shore."

Immigration director Major Nemani Vuniwaqa said they conducted normal procedures and checks on the Brigitte Bardot before departure.

Navy Commander John Fox denied they played any part in the expulsion of the Brigitte Bardot.

"We weren't involved in any such exercise. There was a vessel that had gone out of Suva Harbor today (yesterday) but that was travelling to Denarau to provide security for the visit of the Chinese delegate."

Captain Giakravarty said when he was informed they were to leave port, he attempted to get an explanation from the officers on board.

"We were not given a reason why we were being asked to leave. When they boarded the vessel, I tried to get an explanation from them but they would not give me one. They just told me to clear port," he said.

Commander Fox said the navy did not ask the Brigitte Bardot to leave.

"They are mistaking someone else for us," he said.

Immigration director Major Nemani Vuniwaqa said they simply conducted normal procedures and checks on the Brigitte Bardot before departure.

Major Vuniwaqa said immigration officers had ensured all was in order before allowing the vessel to leave Fiji waters.

The government had earlier this year released a statement saying the Sea Shepherd organization was not welcome in Fiji waters.

When it was allowed into Fiji last Wednesday, the government would not comment on the reasons for its change of heart.

Japan has always condemned the Sea Shepherd's confrontational approach with its whaling ships, which the anti-whalers try to run down at sea.

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