British Columbia

R/V Martin Sheen ship to ply B.C. waters in July on 'salmon campaign'

The U.S. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is sending its newest vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, to B.C. shores this summer to work with marine wildlife activist Alexandra Morton.

The ship expected to dock by July 11 depending on the wind may bring storms of opinions

B.C. is about to get a celebrity visitor of the seas named after Martin Sheen but sometimes called vigilante. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

A high-profile and controversial vigilante marine conservation group is sending its latest celebrity-named ship to B.C. this summer to aid in the fight to "save salmon."

The R/V Martin Sheen is expected to sail into B.C. waters in mid-July and its crew will work with local marine activist Alexandra Morton who has fought to protect wild salmon in B.C. for years.

No actual Martin Sheen, just the ship

There is no suggestion that Hollywood actor Martin Sheen — who helped launch the vessel in 2014 — will be along for the voyage. The ship is just named in an activist celebrity's honour, a long-standing practice of the group.

Details of the voyage are not public yet, but Morton confirmed that the R/V Martin Sheen is expected in Vancouver around July 11, depending on the wind.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society unveiled the R/V Martin Sheen in 2014, and her first voyage involved a fight against plastic pollution. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

"Canada can do much better on the aquaculture and wild salmon front," said Morton.

The R/V Martin Sheen has been involved in campaigns to save the  vaquita porpoise, to stop gill netting and to stop plastic pollution in oceans.

Focus on wild salmon

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson's post about the upcoming visit to B.C. waters has been shared 346 times.

"Sea Shepherd is sending the MARTIN SHEEN to British Columbia this summer to work with Alexandra Morton to address the destruction to natural habitats and indigenous salmon species by domestic fish farms. Morton has been single-handedly fighting ... for years," Watson posted on May 23.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, first founded by a former member of Greenpeace in the 1970s, was renowned for ramming whaling ships in years past.

History of controversy

Their tactics have always been controversial, and members say in many cases exaggerated.

Alexandra Morton has spent years acting as a watchdog for salmon, and testing wild salmon for viruses. (CBC)

"They have accused Sea Shepherd of stealing beer, stealing toilet paper, scaring children and driving drunk. Mysteriously despite the many "witnesses" that apparently saw these egregious crimes being committed, no one was arrested for any of these things," said Captain Paul Watson in a commentary on Facebook.

"They like to present this image of Sea Shepherd as ruthless, violent, dangerous, 38 years of operations Sea Shepherd has never caused a single injury to a single person. Sea Shepherd may be aggressive but we are, and always have been non-violent," added Watson who is featured in Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

Actor and Activist Martin Sheen is a long-time supporter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. (CBC)

The group garnered notoriety after taking on Japanese whaling fleets on the high seas in the weekly series.

Celebrity ships names after activist actors, author

The group was accused of shining lights into the whalers's eyes and throwing foul-smelling substances on the decks of ships in an effort to halt or disrupt the harvest of whales.

Many of the society's ships are named after celebrities who spoke out for conservation from Farley Mowat to Brigitte Bardot.

Actors Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen appear at the Emmy Awards in August 2006 in Los Angeles. (Mike Blake/Reuters)