Right now my social media feed is full of bloody red water. Innocent animals are slaughtered in the name of tradition and culture. Often I can’t help myself and just want to change something, but how can I change stuff when I am here in Europe and all these things are happening at the other end of the world? No worries there are people fighting against this cruelty.
Giacomo ‘Josh’ Giorgi is such a person, who sails around the globe, trying to protect the innocent animals of our oceans. Maybe some of you know him as the vocalist of the band To Kill. After their breakup he decided to sacrifice his life to the ocean and its inhabitants. Read here our full length interview with a true hero:
Living on a ship for such a long time certainly creates some tense within the crew. How do you solve such problems?
You’ll be surprised how little tension there is between the crew. It would seem pretty normal to think that having 30 people, confined on a ship going trough rough seas and emotionally hard days for up to 5 months, would create some sort of friction. The truth is that there is a very special and unique vibe on board of the Sea Shepherd ships. The passion towards our common goal unites people from such diverse walks of life and I think hard moments are what creates a really strong bond and comradeship between people. It really does creates new friendship. it’s hard to think about someone else in the world you spend so much time with. I think as long as people are here with the heart in the right place, everything else seems to work out really smoothly.
Was there a special reason or event which caused you to join Sea Shepherd
I’ve first heard about Sea Shepherd in the mid 90’s, when a hardcore band called Ignite released a record benefit for the organization. Since then tried to keep myself as informed as I could through animal rights magazines or vegan fairs. In the mid 2000’s we started to promote Sea Shepherd through the band I used to sing with, To Kill, and we made a benefit record ourselves. By then I was really into the organization and it was a steady thought in my mind to try to join. In 2010 To Kill broke up. As soon as we took that decision, I talked to my girlfriend and we decided to apply. So to answer your question, I think i have been wanting to join for a long time and as soon as few things lined up, I just did everything I could to be part of this.
Can you say something about your upcoming campaigns?
The awesome thing about Sea Shepherd is that it really became kind of a movement. Currently we have campaigns that involve the ships but also we have a multitude of campaigns on land that are carried on by local Sea Shepherd chapters. This is something that have been happening now for a couple of years involving a much greater amount of volunteers and campaigns globally.
Regarding the ships, after the huge success of our last southern ocean campaign to stop poaching of Patagonian Thootfish, Operation Icefish, the Sam Simon and the Bob Barker are joining the Brigitte Bardot for this summer patrol of the waters around the Faroes Islands to protect cetaceans such as different types of dolphins and pilot whales from being driven onto beaches and brutally slaughtered. In our modern age there is no excuse that can justify such act. Faroese people have access to as much food variety as countries like Germany or UK, and actually doctors discourage consuming pilot whale meat more than once a month due to the high level of mercury found in it cause of the pollutant in our oceans.
Before arriving to the Faroes Islands the Sam Simon also stopped in Tromso, Norway, to point the media spotlight on a cargo ship carrying meat of endangered Fin Whales going form Iceland to Japan passing trough the arctic passage.
Our ship the Jairo Sandoval is currently deployed in Cape Verde where it’s taking part to a campaign to protect Shearwaters (a local type of birds).
We also have the Steve Irwin, Jules Verne and Farley Mowat that are currently getting ready for latter campaigns and we have our first brand new ship under construction, so make sure you keep an eye on the Sea Shepherd media outlets.
Sometimes it seems that you fight a losing battle, what motivates you and/or the crew to keep on going?
Doing what we do, sometimes it really is an emotional roller coaster. having to see a whale dragged in the water in front of one of our vessels by an harpoon ship, or having to haul thousands of dead bodies entangled in kilometers of illegal gill net might be heart breaking. But I think the most important thing in these situation is to keep focus on the overall mission. to think of the lives that can still be saved and that we need to do everything in our power to make sure that those gill nets are going to be destroyed and the ship that owned them will never fish again. we have to make sure that whale is the last one that they are going to kill for that season and now that we are on the scene it won’t happen again. not on our watch.
I also think that looking at the Sea Shepherd history and seeing the huge victories that we achieved and the amount of lives we saved is a more than strong enough reason to keep me going. for me really it’s all about saving lives in the end. I think there are plenty of examples of people that had to go trough the hardest moments through their lives in order to make huge changes. Sometimes the harder your struggle is in the end, the more of a difference you are making.
What do you miss the most when you’re on the ocean?
I love being at sea. it’s a unique experience. We get to see things and places that just a handful of people in the world get to see. I love the ocean when it’s calm, I love it when it’s rough, I love to see wild animals in their habitat, interacting with the ship cause of their will not cause they have been trained in captivity, I love to go to new places all the time or to see land barely touched by human civilization. it’s a life of sacrifices but also a life of rewards, so I enjoy it very much. that said, there are a few things that I miss of course. mainly I sometimes miss to do the things that I was doing before, like touring with a band or to go to shows or hang out with some of my friends. I have to say on board of the ships there is a big group of hardcore, metal and punk kids and amazing people in general so it’s awesome to hang out with them 24/7, but sometime I spend years without seeing people that before I used to see on a regular basis. oh and I miss fresh fruit and veggies and real pizza from back home in Rome, so much.
Besides certain qualifications, what does it take to be a member of a Sea Shepherd crew?
I think qualifications are not as important as the passion and the commitment to the cause. this more than anything else will get you going trough the really hard work that we need to do on board, through the hard situations and through everything emotionally painful. I really think that you couldn’t pay people to work as good and as hard as someone that is there for the sole reason of protecting the oceans and defending life. I feel truly inspired every day by the people that surround me on these ships.
You are operating as a “direct action task force” and people often criticize such actions. How do justify your actions and campaigns?
I don’t really think that Sea Shepherd need to justify anything to anyone. The organisation always operates within the law. In fact Sea Shepherd uphold conservation laws that are in place. Usually we are the ones having to criticize governments for the lack of enforcement, that’s mainly why we have to come into action. I think a great example is our anti whaling campaign. for years we have been in the southern oceans opposing the whalers coming from Japan, when no countries sent ships to interrupt the hunt that have been illegal since 1986. finally last year the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the world, ruled that the operation that Japan was conducting in Antarctica was illegal.
Another great example has been our last campaign in the southern oceans to stop Poaching of patagonian and antarctic thootfish. During this campaign we ended up cooperating with Interpol, authorities from several countries. I don’t know how you can get more legit than that.
Do you see hope for the ocean?
This is a very hard question. I’m an optimist for so many things, but sometimes I struggle seeing a bright future when it comes to things the humankind has an impact on, generally speaking I would say the planet itself, therefore the ocean. I think there has been a bit of an awakening in the past years for some people, when it comes to respecting the oceans. I think everyone is realising how devastating the effect of our actions is on them, how we are driving so many species extinct and how we are destroying fisheries all around the world. I think that there are more and more people on a daily basis that understand this and that would like to do something about it. My hope is that this knowledge will spread in time, before we destroy everything. There are a lot of people on this planet, so many, and my fear is that we will not be fast enough. One would wonder why I do what I do. I think looking at the success that we had in these past almost 40 years and how much the organisation is growing, maybe yes I believe that something can be done. I see it in the eyes of the people that come to see our ships when they are open for tours: people understand how important is this fight. They understand this is not our fight as an organisation but it’s our fight as humankind. I think probably living a life where there is no hope must mean living a pretty empty life. I want my life to be full. Now I want to be able to say i’m giving my best to change things. if everything fails in the end, I want to know that at least I tried.