Whaling fleet prevented from refueling as the fight for whales heats up

By Lucy Brake - 18 Jan 2011 9:35:1 GMT
Whaling fleet prevented from refueling as the fight for whales heats up

The Sea Shepherd group has managed to intercept the ship that is supplying the Japanese vessels hunting for whales in the South Ocean. The conservation group is planning to prevent the Japanese whaling supply ship, the Sun Laurel, from delivering fuel and other supplies to both the whalers and their factory ship.

The vessels in the Sea Shepherd fleet have changed their course of action to head towards the Sun Laurel so they can converge and intercept the supply tanker. "We intend to stay on it like a bloodhound to keep this ship from delivering fuel and supplies to the whaling fleet”, said Captain Watson, leader of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "This tanker's support of Japan's illegal activities makes the captain and crew of the Sun Laurel as culpable as the person firing the harpoon into a whale's flesh".

The whaling boats currently hunting in the Southern Ocean will need to refuel and restock supplies soon and the anti-whaling activists will be waiting for them. Any refueling of vessels south of the 60 degrees line is prohibited under the Antarctic Treaty and so the Sea Shepherd intends to closely monitor the Sun Laurel to ensure the international treaty is enforced. ''I think they're desperate for fuel,'' comments Captain Watson. ''As long as our ships can prevent any transfer, the fleet will not be able to extend their killing season beyond the first week in February.''If the Japanese whalers are unable to refuel, they are potentially facing a major threat to their capacity to continue their whale hunt.

This follows hot on the heels of a week of more attacks against the whaling vessels; as the Sea Shepherd fleet has been throwing 'flash bangs' and smoke grenades at the Japanese boats. Captain Watson says the attacks are just the beginning of many that will be carried out in coming weeks.

At this point in the whaling season, the Sea Shepherd believes they have managed to prevent the whalers from actually finding and killing any whales as they have been too busy trying to out manoeuvre the anti-whaling boats. The Japanese whalers are facing what could be their worst Antarctic whaling season in history and there is now every possibility they may return home to Japan empty handed.

Image copyright Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/Babara Veiga