|Sea Shepherd cuts off Japanese whale killers
Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd said it intercepted the Japanese fleet in its annual Southern Ocean whale hunt “before a single harpoon has been fired.’’
Sea Shepherd claims to have saved the lives of 4,000 whales over the past eight whaling seasons with clever campaigns of harassment against the Japanese fleet, AFP reports.
The group said the Brigitte Bardot, a former ocean racer, had intercepted the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No 3 in the Southern Ocean at a relatively northern latitude.
“Given that the large concentrations of whales are found further south, closer to the Antarctic continent where there are high concentrations of krill, this would indicate that they have not yet begun whaling,’’ said Brigitte Bardot captain Jean Yves Terlain.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson is on board Sea Shepherd's main ship, Steve Irwin, but has stepped down as skipper and has vowed to abide by a US court ruling in December banning the group from physically confronting any vessel in the Japanese fleet. Former Australian politician Bob Brown heads the group now.
For decades Australia was also a whaling nation, slaughtering 40,000 humpbacks and 16,000 sperm whales from 1952 to 1978.
The ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit requires Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 yards from whaling vessels and prohibits “navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe navigation of any such vessel.’’
The whaling fleet left Japan for the Southern Ocean in late December, planning to catch up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and up to 50 fin whales.
Tokyo claims it catches whales for scientific research – a loophole in the international ban on whaling – but makes no secret of the fact that they ultimately end up as food for Japanese.
Sea Shepherd's campaign this year is its biggest yet, involving four ships, a helicopter, three drones and more than 100 crew members.