Owner of once notorious MV Farley Mowat found in contempt of court
A Canadian Fisheries and Oceans patrol boat passes by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat on Monday April 14, 2008, in Sydney, N.S. A ship that was once part of a small but notorious fleet commanded by environmental crusader Paul Watson is now at the centre of a court fight that appears to be coming to a head in Nova Scotia. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Dembeck)
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, May 15, 2016 4:00PM ADT
SHELBURNE, N.S. -- The owner of the rusted remains of the once notorious MV Farley Mowat has been found in contempt of court for failing to remove the ship from a wharf in Shelburne N.S., municipal officials said.
But scrap dealer Tracy Dodds still has until May 31 to avoid $10,000 in penalties and fees and 20 days in jail.
Dylan Heide, Shelburne's chief administrative officer, said the deadline for removing the former flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been extended several times.
Dodds missed the latest deadline of April 22 and he was found in contempt of court last week for failing to comply with three court orders, said Heide.
"It certainly has been difficult for the port. We've unfortunately had to turn away customers, in particular some fisheries vessels because of limited space there while the Farley Mowat is taking up berthage," said Heide in a recent phone interview, adding that the rusting hulk is also an eyesore.
Heide said the town now plans on trying to recover more than $45,000 in unpaid berthing fees.
Dodds could not be reached for comment.
The flat-black ship was part of a small fleet commanded by Canadian environmental crusader Paul Watson, whose tactics were criticized by both then Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and federal fisheries minister Loyola Hearn.
On April 12, 2008, an RCMP tactical squad stormed the ship and accused its captain and chief officer of violating Canadian law by getting too close to the annual seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Watson, then in New York, argued that his vessel -- registered in the Netherlands -- never entered Canada's 12-nautical-mile territorial limit, but Hearn said the Fisheries Act gave the federal government the authority to take action beyond that line.
The Fisheries Department later said its 98-metre icebreaker CCGS Des Groseilliers was "grazed" twice by the Farley Mowat during a tense encounter on the ice-covered waters. But the conservation group insisted its ship was rammed twice by the icebreaker.
Watson's group has long used high-profile tactics to stop hunters from killing seals, whales and other marine wildlife around the globe. Its logo is a stylized skull, much like a pirate's Jolly Roger.
The Farley Mowat's senior officers were released from a Cape Breton jail in April 2008 after the ship's namesake, Canadian author Farley Mowat, posted their $10,000 bail. The pair were later fined $23,000 each, though they were deported before they were sentenced.
As for the ship, the former Norwegian fisheries research vessel was sold for $5,000 in 2009 and was supposed to be refitted. But that never happened. It later showed up in Lunenburg in 2010 and then in Shelburne harbour in September 2014.
On June 25, 2015, the ship sank at its berth, forcing the Canadian Coast Guard to mount a $500,000 cleanup effort that saw the vessel refloated. More than 2,000 litres of pollutants were eventually removed from the hull.
Watson's group replaced the MV Farley Mowat with another, smaller ship of the same name last year.