Fish Farming Expert has learned that the Sea Shepherd activists aboard the R/V Martin Sheen, which is currently the flagship for 'Operation Virus Hunter' (for full story click here), have been illegally operating drones over fish farm sites – in direct contravention of the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR).
According to these regulations, the protesters cannot lawfully operate drones over private property without authority from Transport Canada.
The regulations do not permit the surveillance operations over a third party’s property, or within 150 meters of buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels or people.
Thus it seems that any drone use by Sea Shepherd over or near any fish farms is unauthorized under federal law.
Furthermore, this act may also be outside BC civil law – although there is currently no case law addressing the issue of whether drone operation is subject to privacy laws, there are strong arguments to be made that unauthorized drone operation may be a trespass or nuisance under the common law or in breach of the BC Personal Information Protection Act.
According a social media post from July 25th, the drones are being manned by Tamo Campos, grandson of David Suzuki.
This isn’t the first time the Sea Shepherd Society has been associated with illegal operations – activities of Paul Watson (the founder of Sea Shepherd) have led to legal action from authorities in countries including the United States, Canada, Norway, Costa Rica, and Japan.
Previous Sea Shepherd operations have included scuttling and disabling whaling vessels at harbor, intervening in Canadian and Namibian seal hunts, shining laser lights into the eyes of whalers, throwing bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid onto vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea.
Photo: Alexandra Morton launches drone in Okisollo Channel, British Columbia