Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Preparing For Kamikaze

Sea Shepherd's ship Bob Barker is in Sydney, preparing for its 3mth. anti-whaling campaign, Operation Divine Wind (or Kamikaze).
Ship's manager Andrea Gordon says the hardest part is tracking down the Japanese factory ship. "Our most effective tactic is finding Nisshin Maru and staying behind it. Once we put a SS ship there, they stop killing whales and try to run from us. Last season we circumnavigated almost half of Antarctica chasing them out of the whaling grounds and eventually they went back to Japan a month early, cutting their whaling season short." The volunteer crew expects aggressive tactics from the whalers. Ms Gordon says, "We're going up against one of the most well-funded and technologically advanced fleets, and we've faced a barrage of tactics from them."
Japan spent US$27m (!!!) on upgrading security this year. Last month, Japan's fisheries minister Michihiko Kano said a Fisheries Agency patrol boat would sail with the whaling fleet to "strengthen the protection given to the research whaling ships." I hear that any beefing-up of Japanese whaling security will not involve a Japan Coast Guard ship (a) because they have no vessels capable of handling the Southern Ocean, and (b) the Coast Guard has no mandate to operate so far from home. As the whalers specifically mentioned an armed security vessel, it’s more likely they'll have a private fast vessel equipped with water cannon, sonic devices (perhaps with armed security officers aboard) etc, to run interference.
Bob Barker is docked at Sydney's Circular Quay Nov.10-12 for free public tours, before it heads to Hobart, Tasmania for final prep. Over the past decade, the nasty Nippons have sailed between Nov.6-19 (except for last season, when they did not depart until early Dec., with no reason given). But Australia has quashed rumours that it's sending an armed patrol vessel to the Sthrn.Ocean...

Meanwhile, a 2008-2009 Master’s Dissertation argues that the insistence on continued whaling in the face of world opinion is actually an internal fight between the Japanese Fisheries Agency and other government entities for resources and influence. This draws together a lot of background info I haven't seen before... 
PS: 09 Nov.2011 - Paul Watson disappointed by NZ govt's stance on Antarctic whaling.

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