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Beneath the Waves: A Deeper Look at the National Security Threats of Illicit Fishing in “Seaspiracy”
April 06

Beneath the Waves: A Deeper Look at the National Security Threats of Illicit Fishing in “Seaspiracy”

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03:00 pm - 04:30 pm. Time zone: America/New_York

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Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a threat multiplier for areas with ongoing regional instability. In addition to keystone species being victims of overfishing and by-catch, causing degradation in the marine ecosystem, the increase in Chinese IUU vessels has had a detrimental impact extending far beyond the ocean. Chinese IUU fishing operations are the largest in the world and have exacerbated resource scarcity, food insecurity, and economic instability – all factors that can fuel chaotic instability in vulnerable regions.

Join Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) for introductory remarks to a conversation with ADM William Fallon, USN (Ret.), Sea Shepherd CEO Alex Cornelissen, Sea Shepherd Director of Campaigns Peter Hammarstedt, and Seaspiracy Directors Ali and Lucy Tabrizi as they discuss how IUU fishing and overfishing act as a threat multiplier to U.S. national security. The event will be moderated by ASP COO Andrew Holland.





About the Speakers

Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) has represented Vermonters in Congress since 2007.  In an era of partisanship and division, he is widely recognized as a skillful legislator who chooses governing over gridlock.

He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross.  As a member of the first class of Robert F. Kennedy Fellows, he fought housing discrimination in Chicago after college and went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.  After law school, he settled in Vermont’s Upper Valley where he founded a small law practice.

He was elected to the Vermont Senate in 1980 and later was selected to lead the chamber, becoming the first Democrat in Vermont’s history to hold the position of Senate President Pro Tem.

In Congress, Peter is focused on delivering immediate aid to Vermont individuals, small businesses, and our community anchor institutions hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Peter is also a leading advocate for energy efficiency, cutting the price of prescription drugs, investing in infrastructure, and expanding broadband and telemedicine in rural America.

He serves as a chief deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus and is a senior member of the influential Energy and Commerce Committee.  He is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Oversight and Reform Committee.


Admiral William J. Fallon retired from the U.S. Navy after a distinguished 40 year career of military and strategic leadership. He has led U.S. and Allied forces in eight separate commands and played a leadership role in military and diplomatic matters at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

As head of U.S. Central Command, Admiral Fallon directed all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and Horn of Africa, focusing on combat efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He led the U.S. Pacific Command for two years, directing political-military activities in the Asia-Pacific region. His achievements include a resumption of military engagement with China, new outreach to India, a new agreement on a strategic framework with Japan, and humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 2004 Tsunami in SE Asia. He also served as Presidential Envoy to Japan, handling bi-lateral relations after the collision of a U.S. submarine and a Japanese fishing vessel.

On September 11, 2001, Admiral Fallon was serving in the Pentagon as Vice Chief of the Navy. He personally directed the recovery of the Navy staff in the wake of the attack and led in the planning of the retaliatory attacks on Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. He later commanded the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, with responsibility for the readiness of U.S. Naval forces worldwide.

Chairman and CEO of a new company in the cyber security business, Admiral Fallon is a partner and advisor to several other businesses and a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses. He has been a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S. and also serves as Co-Chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Smart Global Health Policy and Co-Chair of the National Association of Corporate Directors 2009 Blue Ribbon Commission.

Captain Alex Cornelissen has participated in more than 25 Sea Shepherd campaigns, including five trips down to the Antarctic to stop the Japanese whale poachers. He first joined Sea Shepherd in 2002 as Chief Cook on the Farley Mowat, at that time the organization’s flagship vessel. What was supposed to be a sabbatical turned into a life-changing experience. On his first day onboard the Farley Mowat, he dove into the waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve to save a turtle from a long line. Even though such an initiation seems hard to beat, he has since had many inspirational moments. Saving 15 dolphins from the nets in Taiji in 2003. Saving seals in Canada in 2005 and 2008, campaigns that are by far the bloodiest and most brutal to witness. Freeing wildlife from long lines over the years and seeing Japan lose the court case at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Over 14 years he served as a member of the Sea Shepherd crew on a number of ships in Sea Shepherd’s fleet, working his way up to the bridge to become the First Officer under Captain Paul Watson and appointed Captain in 2006.

He served nonstop onboard the ships until the end of 2007 when he started working as the Director of Operations in the Galapagos Islands. There, he remained for seven years, running an effective campaign to stop poaching in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In January 2014, Captain Cornelissen became the CEO of Sea Shepherd Global and is now responsible for all the movements of the vessels in Sea Shepherd’s Global fleet. Even though his focus shifted from the ships to the general management of the Global movement, he still participates in campaigns when time allows it.

Captain Cornelissen is the president of the board of directors for Sea Shepherd Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands, and Switzerland and serves as a board member in most of the other established Sea Shepherd countries.


Peter Hammarstedt Swedish-American Peter Hammarstedt, 36, is the Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd and is Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia. He is captain of the ocean-going vessel Bob Barker, having spent more than 18 years at-sea including 10 years in Antarctica.

In 2014/15, the Bob Barker, with Peter as captain, set the world record for the longest pursuit of a poaching vessel at sea after chasing the Interpol-wanted fishing vessel Thunder for 110 days, covering three oceans and 11,000 nautical miles, before its captain intentionally sank his own vessel in the Gulf of Guinea in a bid to destroy evidence.

Since then, Peter, has provided civilian offshore patrol vessels (COPVs), under so-called ‘ship rider’ agreements, to the African coastal states of Liberia, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Benin, Namibia, The Gambia and Tanzania in order to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

On-going partnerships between Sea Shepherd and the law enforcement agents of African coastal and island States have resulted in the arrest of 67 vessels for illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes over the past four years; joint at-sea patrols have detected and deterred IUU fishing activity while also monitoring legal compliance by licensed fishing operators. The COPVs have served as critical platforms for capacity-building of law enforcement agencies in increasing monitoring, control and surveillance capabilities in the maritime domain.


Ali Tabrizi grew up on the Southeast coast of England, and spent much of his early childhood exploring the world with his camera, daydreaming about the ocean and the hidden world beneath the waves. After his family moved to Iran for several years during a time of political turmoil and revolution, he became intimately aware of how untold stories can lead to corruption and injustice, sparking an interest in war photojournalism. After spending his teenage years reading as much as he could about global issues and studying Art & Design and Art History at Canterbury College, Tabrizi was accepted into London College of Communication to study photojournalism. Instead, he turned down the offer and bought a one-way ticket to India, and began to teach himself filmmaking soon after. His interest in wanting to expose the truth and his passion for environmental issues soon led him to start working on the Netflix Original documentary, Seaspiracy.


Lucy Tabrizi was born in Melbourne, Australia, and growing up she was never far from the sea. Originally studying to become an architect, she quickly became disenchanted with the career choice and wanted to get involved in issues she cared more deeply about. After many years of travelling, she became immensely concerned about conservation and the unethical treatment of other species. Combining her passion for the natural world with her creative skill set, she is dedicated to furthering the conversation on effective environmental and animal advocacy.



Andrew Holland is the American Security Project’s Chief Operating Officer. His area of research is on on energy, climate change, trade, innovation and infrastructure policy. For more than 15 years, he has worked at the center of debates about how to achieve sustainable energy security and how to effectively address climate change.

He served as Legislative Assistant on Energy, Environment, and Infrastructure for United States Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska for three years from 2006 through 2008.  He worked in the US House of Representatives for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Office of Congresswoman Roukema.

He holds a Master’s Degree in International Strategy and Economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Economics from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

He is originally from New York City, grew up in New Jersey, and currently resides in Alexandria, VA.

For press inquiries, please reach out to Annie Aleman at press@americansecurityproject.org