Whale Harpooned (Greenpeace file photo)
There is a global moratorium on whale hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Japan continues to hunt under a scientific research loophole of the International Whaling Commission, even though the hunt is a thinly disguised commercial operation. Endangered species such as the Fin whale continue to be slaughtered, despite their listing under CITES, which Japan is a signatory to. Japan continues to contravene the Antarctic treaty by the presense of armed officers, refuelling in the treaty zone, and failing to submit Environmental Management Plans in case of a maritime disaster in the Treaty zone.
Mr Morimoto then proceeded to attack selected media reports for "infactual reporting": “Unfortunately, too many journalists have thrown aside their responsibilities for factual reportage and instead get away with writing false assertions by these groups as if they were fact,” he said.
== Sea Shepherd still shadowed by Japanese surveillance trawler ==
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Ship Steve Irwin is heading for Melbourne to resupply and refuel. “We continue to be pursued by the Japanese vessel Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68,” said Captain Paul Watson. “This vessel has maintained a distance of 7 miles and has tailed the Steve Irwin since January 15th.” The Japanese registered Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 carries a crew of armed Japanese coast guard officers onboard.
Japan Coast Guard spokesman Takashi Matsumori said on Tuesday, January 29th "Coast guards are there with a view to protect human lives and assets as they have suffered damage at the hands of activists," The Japanese Fisheries Agency officially requested the Coast Guard protection and the Japanese government approved the request. Matsumori declined to give details about the current Coast Guard operation, citing security reasons, but said officers had the right to carry guns or other weapons. The guards "could make arrests if activists enter a ship without permission of the captain," he said.
“We believe that the armed Japanese Coast Guard officers are on the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 and that their task is to prevent us from interfering with Japanese whaling operations,” said Captain Watson. “They have been certainly relaying our positions to the whaling fleet.”
On January 15th two Sea Shepherd crewmembers, Giles Lane from Briton and Benjamin Potts from Australia, boarded a harpoon vessel, the Yushin Maru No. 2, which resulted in an international incident that was resolved only when Australia agreed to transfer the crew members from the Japanese vessel back to the Steve Irwin. Members of the Coast Guard were not able to take action as they were on a different ship which was not nearby. Shortly after the crewmembers rejoined the Steve Irwin the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 arrived and has tailed the Steve Irwin ever since.
The Australian Customs and Fisheries vessel Oceanic Viking was required by the Australian Government to remove their guns prior to heading into the Southern Ocean to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet. Sea Shepherd has called sending armed Japanese military officers into the Antarctic Treaty Zone as a violation of the Antarctic Treaty.
== Sea Shepherd calls for Donations to help Refuel ==
Sea Shepherd have called for donations and volunteer replacement crew to continue the disruption of Japanese whaling this season. Captain Paul Watson has stated he wants to head back out to confront and disrupt the whaling fleet for the rest of the whaling season.
“I would like to turn the ship around within 10 days,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We have new crew flying in from around the world. We have ordered the spare parts we need and we are anxious to return to defend the whales. This is a retreat for supplies only, we have not surrendered the Sanctuary to the whale killers. We will be back as soon as possible.”
This is in stark contrast to Greenpeace which has abandoned its chase and disruption of whaling this season to focus on its campaign in Japan. Greenpeace were criticised by Sea Shepherd for not committing to return to harass the whaling Fleet this season.
“It’s been a long voyage for many of the crew and because we are volunteers, about half the crew have to leave to return to jobs and family,” said 2nd Officer Peter Hammarstedt. “The rest of us are a little tired but we remain enthusiastic about stopping the poaching of whales in the whale sanctuary. We have already hurt the Japanese fleet economically. They will not get their quota. We need to get back out to sea and stop the harpoons for another three weeks. Every whale saved is a victory.”
Sea Shepherd has put out a call for donations and sponsorship to refuel and resupply the ship. The Sea Shepherd needs to purchase 200 tons of fuel. Supporters can sponsor a ton for $800, a half ton for $400, a quarter ton for $200. The ship also needs 15 barrels of oil. Supporters can sponsor a barrel for $400. The crew is also soliciting donations for all the vegetarian food they can get - canned, dried, frozen.
“We can stop the whaling if we can continue to chase them and harass them,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We’re not deterred by the Japanese Coast Guard. Over the last 30 years I have battled the Navies of Norway, Denmark, Portugal and the Soviet Union and the Canadian Coast Guard. We were not deterred after being fired on by the Soviets and the Norwegians and we will not be deterred by the Japanese. They are the criminals illegally slaughtering whales and we are the defenders upholding international conservation law in accordance with the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature.”
== Legality of Whaling ==
On January 15 in a landmark decision the Australian Federal Court ruled that whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was illegal under Australian law in a civil case brought by Humane Society International Inc. It is the first time a court of law has determined the legality of whaling.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been critical of the timid use of the Oceanic Viking to just collect evidence of whaling and refusing to uphold an Australian court ruling banning Japanese whaling in the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone.
“Taking pictures of whalers illegally killing whales is not the way to enforce the law,” said Sea Shepherd Executive Director Kim McCoy. “If the police saw a bank robbery taking place they would not take pictures of the heist. They would arrest the criminal. We fail to see why Japanese poachers are being given free rein to violate Australian law.”
In November 2007 an international panel of independent legal experts convened in London issued a detailed report - London Report on Illegal Whaling - challenging the legal status of Japan’s whaling operations. The panel also recommended action to be taken against the government of Japan for its violations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Ambassador Alberto Szekely, an international law Professor who served as coordinator of the London Panel and related expert panels convened in Paris and Sydney in 2006, said: “Japan’s repeated assertion that its whaling activities are legal is incorrect and misleading. ‘Scientific whaling’ as conducted by Japan violates international law and should not be allowed to continue.”
== Sources ==
* Sea Shepherd Jan 31, 2008 - Sea Shepherd Ship the Steve Irwin Returns to Melbourne to Refuel And Re-Provision
* Sea Shepherd Jan 31, 2008 - The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Needs Your Help to Return to the Southern Oceans to Defend the Whales from Illegal Japanese Whalers
* Sea Shepherd Jan 30, 2008 - Sea Shepherd Being Pursued by Armed Japanese Coast Guard
* Sea Shepherd Feb 2, 2008 - Sea Shepherd Crew Anxious to Return to the Battle in the Southern Oceans
* Greenpeace Esperanza weblog, Feb 1, 2008 - The whale hunt continues
* Greenpeace, Jan 31, 2008 - Japan resumes scandalous whale hunt
* Institute for Cetecean Research, Jan 31, 2008 - Japan pursuing original research plan in Southern Ocean
* AFP - Jan 28, 2008 - Japan's coast guard to protect whalers from activists
* Photo: Greenpeace. Two years ago: what they do not want you and me to see.
Adapted from a post to Sydney Indymedia which contains links to all sources:
Takver - Sydney Indymedia