Sea Shepherd Marks Eight Years Defending Whales in Southern Ocean

By B. McPherson

The Sea shepherd Society’s eighth campaign in the Southern Ocean, Operation Divine Wind, has been dogging the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.

Operation Divine Wind has three vessels in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary this season – Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and the Brigette Bardot – along with helicopter capability. A new, high tech weapon is being used to good effect as well – a drone.

While the Japanese government maintains that they are not conducting commercial whaling operations and have painted “Research” on the sides of their vessels, many do not believe their stand. Whale meat has found its way to the commercial markets in Japan and offers of help from non-whaling nations to assist in no-kill research have been rebuffed. The whaling fleet has a target of about 1 000 dead whales per year.

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica has been designated a whale sanctuary since 1994. Research is allowed in the area and this loophole is being exploited by the heavily subsidized whaling fleet. While many nations have respected the sanctuary and criticize the Japanese government for its slaughter of whales, no direct action against the killing has been taken except by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. They have engaged in dangerous encounters with the harpoon vessels and factory ship trying to foul equipment, launching stink bombs onto their decks and in one case attempting to serve arrest papers on a ship’s captain by boarding his vessel. This landed the Society’s member in a Japanese courtroom.

Last year the persistent attention of the conservationists could not prevent all the deaths of the whales, but they did reduce the slaughter and raised the expenses of the whalers as well as forcing them to cut short their time in the Antarctic wildlife sanctuary.

“The whalers survive because of massive Japanese government subsidies and much of this subsidy was allocated from the tsunami earthquake defense fund. This whale hunt is now a glorified, state sponsored, welfare project existing only to appease extreme right wing nationalist elements in Japan. We are now dealing with fanatics seeking to kill whales for no other reason than nationalistic pride.” Paul Watson

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