Sea Shepherd clashes with Japanese whalers

By Lucy Brake - 02 Jan 2011 12:21:9 GMT
Sea Shepherd clashes with Japanese whalers

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was pleased to have been able to send their anti-whaling boats to Antarctica before the Japanese whalers were able to leave port, including their new vessel Gojira. And now they have found them before they have managed to kill one whale.

The goal of the anti-whaling fleet was to try to stop the Japanese boats from continuing their slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean. The whaling vessels are unhappy about the attention from the Sea Shepherd and have been shooting water cannons at the Sea Shepherd's Zodiac boat to try and halt them.

New Zealand-based Glenn Inwood, spokesman for Japan's Tokyo-based Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors the whale hunt, said he had no comment. However, the Sea Shepherd crew were happy to share their feelings of the confrontation. “What an awesome way to begin the New Year,” said captain of the Gojira, Locky MacLean of Canada. “Our three vessels dancing dangerously through the ice packs locked in confrontation with the three harpoon ships of the Japanese whaling fleet and these three killer ships are not killing whales while clashing with us”.

Captain Paul Watson, the leader of the Sea Shepherd fleet, says that they are focused on making sure the Japanese whalers are unable to kill whales and to keep them from being able to load any dead whales onto their boats. "Our main tactic is to block their slipway to prevent them from loading dead whales on to the factory ship”, explains Captain Watson. He says the whalers were found at the very eastern end of the Antarctic area they hunt within.

The Japanese whaling fleet annually hunt up to 1,000 whales in a slaughter in the name of scientific research. With pervious clashes of the groups being violent and leading to the sinking of an anti-whaling boat, it was hoped that during this year's season that the Sea Shepherd's efforts would simply lead to the whalers returning to port. However, with the clashes already turning nasty and the season having only just begun this is increasingly unlikely.

The Sea Shepherd is now continuing to use its helicopter and boats to search for the Nisshin Maru, which is the factory boat the whales are taken aboard and butchered on. They are hoping to chase the whaling boats back towards New Zealand and to save more whales than ever before.