Pia Klemp (1983-)

Pia Klemp is a ship captain, an animal and human rights activist, and an author from Germany. She was always interested in conservation of the ocean environment and wildlife. In 2011, she joined the marine conservation organization, the Sea Shepherd, working for six years in various positions such as cook, rescue diverdeckhandship manager and second mate, while gaining her sea captain’s patent.

Through 2017, Pia worked for the Sea Shepherd organization and participated in international operations to protect sea animals. With the emerging European migrant crisis in 2015, she switched roles in 2017 to become a rescue ship operater in the Mediterranean Sea. One of her ships, the Iuventa, was seized by Italian authorities in 2017, who accused her of cooperating with human traffickers. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison.

Pia Klemp has stated that if she is convicted, she will fight the verdict all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. It is common knowledge that it is every captain’s duty to rescue drowning people.

I pictured her outdoors, on the deck of her ship with her hair windblown and sun raking across her face. Her pupils are small because she is looking over the water into the sky. Her tight-lipped expression shows her determination, as if she is telling us: “I didn’t ask for this, but I am doing it anyway.”