Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sea Shepherd Gits Her Done Japan Suspends Whaling

Japan suspends whaling due to Sea Shepherd's harassment

Wednesday 16th February, 07:44 PM JST


A Japanese whaling ship suspended its activities in waters off Chile due to obstructive actions taken by the antiwhaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, top government spokesman Yukio Edano said Wednesday.

‘‘Research whaling by the Nisshin Maru has been suspended to ensure the safety of the whaling fleet since they have been chased by Sea Shepherd vessels since Feb. 10,’’ Edano told a news conference.

The chief Cabinet secretary said the fisheries ministry is currently looking into when the fleet can resume its activities.

Referring to Sea Shepherd’s tactics, Edano expressed his regret at the repeated attempts to obstruct what he described as research whaling activities and said Japan is asking other nations concerned to take steps to deal with such actions.

Japan officially halted commercial whaling in 1986 in line with an international moratorium, but has continued to hunt whales since 1987, saying it is for scientific research purposes.

Environmentalists condemn the activity as a cover for the continuation of commercial whaling.

Even before the Japanese announcement, Sea Shepherd Conversation Society leader Capt Paul Watson told Kyodo News by telephone from his flagship, he believes his group’s strategy was the major reason for the suspension.

Watson said all whaling by the Japanese was suspended Feb 9, with the whaling vessel the Nisshin Maru now ‘‘2,000 miles east of the whaling area’’ and entering Chilean waters in the Atlantic Ocean near South America, an unusual course for the whaling vessel.

‘‘I think that, effectively, we shut down their operations for the season. They know they are not going to kill any more whales…they are probably making the decision to cut and run,’’ Watson said from the Steve Irwin, which is still tailing the Nisshin Maru.

He believes the group’s ‘‘No Compromise’’ campaign by three anti-whaling vessels, including the interceptor Gojira and the former Norwegian harpoon vessel the Bob Barker, shut down the Japanese.

‘‘We found them before they started killing whales, we’ve been on their tail ever since,’’ he said.

‘‘We have chased them, chased them, disrupted them, (so) they haven’t had a chance to kill many whales,’’ Watson said. ‘‘I don’t think they’ve killed more than 30.’‘

The original quota set by the Japanese whalers for the Antarctic whaling season was 1,035 whales, including minke and fin whales.

The main Sea Shepherd strategy was to stop the whalers by preventing the Nisshin Maru from loading whales by blocking the vessels stern and keeping it on the run from the group.

‘‘Our strategy has always been aggressive, nonviolent. We never hurt anybody, but we were certainly aggressive,’’ Watson said.

He also believes a lack of fuel may be another problem for the Japanese fleet, with the Sea Shepherd able to disrupt refueling of the Nisshin Maru since late December.

Watson said his group of 80 is ‘‘excited’’ by ‘‘their achievements.’‘

‘‘Every whale saved is a victory to us,’’ he said.

‘‘Every year we come down here, we come down strong and the whaling fleet comes down weaker. I’ve always felt the key to this is financial, economic, we had to cut their profits, to sink the Japanese fleet economically, and that what we’ve been able to do,’’ he said.

Watson also said he does not know if whalers will return next season, but added, ‘‘We prepared for it’’ with a fourth ship set to be added to the fleet.

In the meantime, Sea Shepherd will continue to shadow the Japanese fleet until they are satisfied the whalers will not continue their hunt.

The whaling season normally ends in the first two weeks of March. Japan Today

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