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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Dale Vince pushes the boat out for ecowarrior mission

No stranger to controversy, the boss of Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity and owner of Forest Green Rovers (FGR) has bailed out of funding slow-marching eco protestors Just Stop Oil – but is immediately wading deep into a high seas mission to block whaling in the Atlantic.

Fans of Nailsworth-based FGR will be familiar with the Sea Shepherd logo on team merchandise and players' shirts, but now that the founder of Sea Shepherd has quit his role with the charity and launched his own splinter group, the Paul Watson Foundation.

And to help him along, Dale Vince has given Mr Watson a big boost – by buying him a new battleship.

Mr Watson plans to take the former Australian customs patrol boat, now moored on the east coast of England, right into the heart of controversy by sailing into the path of Faroese islanders and the pilot whales they regularly slaughter in the Faroe Islands' Grindadráp festival.

The FGR club owner updated fans of the FGR when the new third team shirt was revealed last week - the club currently sports the Sea Shepherd logo, but cash from merchandise will go to Mr Watson's new mission while club shirts will be rebranded, he said, in due course to reflect affiliation to the new cause.

Mr Vince told fans: "Soon, you'll see their new Neptune's Pirates logo on our banners and flag at the ground, symbolizing our unwavering support for the Foundation's mission to end the destruction of habitats and illegal killing of wildlife around the UK's coastline and across the globe.

"If you choose to buy this shirt, you will be helping the Captain Paul Watson Foundation UK team and its collaborators, who remain steadfast in protecting and conserving the ocean by employing a unique strategy of assertive non-violence and daring interventions against illegal activities that exploit marine life."

He added FGR was "thrilled to be partnering with such a remarkable charity, who are making a vital difference to ocean protection" and through his X (Twitter) account, Mr Vince has asked fans to suggest a name for the ex-Austrialian coastguard vessel, which is currently awaiting a 'paint job'. Artwork shared on X indicates that the camouflage 'dazzle' design of the ship's paintwork will echo the look of FGR's current warm-up kit.

Asking for naming inspiration, Mr Vince added: "One of my favs is Moby (not the) Dick. Green Knight and Sea Shepherdess were others."

While he said he believed that the new ecowarrior group's name "doesn't have the same ring to it" as Sea Shepherd, Mr Vince added: "Nevertheless the good work continues, focussed right now on whaling in the Faroes, one of the last places to pursue this Barbaric act."

Reaction to the naming request among fans has been broadly positive: inevitably "Whaley McWhaleface" has been suggested, along with the "Prince of Whales" and "DazzleDale". But given FGR's poor recent results in the 2022-23 season and six consecutive losses, "National League Under the Sea" has also been suggested.

So far this year, the Faroe Islands, a self-governing nation under the sovereignty of Denmark located 200 miles north of Scotland, have staged six whale hunts. In the most recent one, 78 pilot whales, a long-finned species of dolphin, were killed, including nine calves. The controversial practice, called Grindadráp, sees Faroese locals herding the pilot whales to shore with over 40 small boats and jet-skis.

● In step with his decision to no longer fund Just Stop Oil, Mr Vince has now launched the #JustVote24 campaign, a push to motivate younger and first-time voters to show their environmental concern at the ballot box. In a statement, he said: "We've just seen fake announcements on cancelling meat taxes, forced car sharing and seven bins for recycling – an incredible assault on the truth, all dressed up as an assault on green issues."

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