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Steve Irwin prevented from leaving Lerwick

Sea Shepherd president Paul Watson: 'Expect the unexpected' - Photo: Malcolm Younger, Millgaet Media

THE CAMPAIGN against the annual slaughter of around 1,000 pilot whales in Faroe has suffered a first set back on Friday afternoon when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship Steve Irwin was served with a court order.

The vessel will now stay at the Morrison Dock, in Lerwick, until at least Monday for the group’s lawyers to negotiate bail conditions.

Founder and president of the radical environmentalist organisation, Paul Watson, said on Friday that the warrant had been served at 4.30pm, too late for their legal team to respond before the weekend.

The Steve Irwin with around 40 campaigners on board was due to leave Lerwick on Saturday morning. A second Sea Shepherd vessel, the MV Brigitte Bardot, is scheduled to leave at around 10am and will head for Faroese territorial waters.

Mr Watson said the legal action was brought by a large Maltese bluefin tuna fisheries company the group had confronted in the Mediterranean.

He said: “The company sues us because we cut their nets last year. We are confident that we will win the court case, but in the meantime we have to put a bond up.

“You have to expect the unexpected. We will solve this one – I am confident about that. Meanwhile we will carry on with the Brigitte Bardot.”