The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says its U.S.-flagged research vessel RV Martin Sheen is being detained in Victoria along with the ship’s captain, Chris Holt.
“Canadian Customs has refused to grant clearance despite advanced notice of the arrival of the vessel from Honolulu, Hawaii,” reads a post on the Sea Shepherd Facebook page.
According to the post, Holt, who is a U.S. citizen, had his passport removed from the vessel by customs officers. The other seven crew members have all been cleared.
“Sea Shepherd Director of Operations Locky MacLean is appearing at Customs HQ in Victoria in court this morning for a hearing on the manner,” it reads. No more recent updates have been posted.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says the RV Martin Sheen is in B.C. waters to help Dr. Alexandra Morton with her research into the transmission of salmon parasites and viruses as part of a campaign called Operation Virus Hunter. The research vessel traveled to B.C. last summer to study coastal fish farms as part of the same campaign.
“Customs asked if Dr. Alexandra Morton would be coming onboard. They also informed Sea Shepherd that there was no need for any research regarding the salmon farms because the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans already does research,” it reads.
Morton is a marine biologist and recently released a short documentary called Racing a Virus that explains some of the risks open net-pen salmon farms pose to wild salmon populations.
Earlier this year, over 50 B.C. chefs called on the province to end leases for 20 open net-pen salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago, which are up for renewal in June.
The ship’s arrival in Victoria comes just days before Kinder Morgan’s May 31 deadline to make a decision on whether or not to move forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
V.I.A. has reached out to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Canada Border Services Agency, and Alexandra Morton. We will update this article when more information becomes available.