Saturday, January 14, 2012

All (Moderately) Quiet On The Southern Front

After last weekend's incident involving the Forest Rescue protestors boarding Shonan Maru 2, it now seems a bit quiet down in the Southern Ocean.
Just a few shuffles on the dance floor. So...who is where? Ok, SM2 is no longer chasing Steve Irwin. It's been replaced by the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru 2. SM2 headed west to the Australian customs vessel Ocean Protector to hand over the three prisoners yesterday.
[PS: 15 Jan.2012 - Transfer is now complete...]
With YM2 now tailing SI (exchanging water cannon squirts with butyric acid bombs) and Yushin Maru 3 still illegally hovering around Macquarie Island, the factory ship Nisshin Maru now only has Yushin Maru nearby. SI has lost contact with it's possible that whaling has now begun. If so, the catch will be low as there's only one harpoon vessel involved in killing.
SS's third vessel for this seaon, the fast scout vessel Brigitte Bardot, remains in Fremantle undergoing repairs from damage caused by the extreme weather conditions. The repair bill is likely to top $200K.
Meanwhile SS is working to secure a third large, fast, ice-strengthened vessel for next season. A three-boat tag team has already proven effective against the fleet, resulting in an early tail-between-the-legs scurry back to port last season.
The dropping away of SM2 means there's no possibility of the Forest Rescue men being transferred to SI. This hand-over would have saved the Oz govt hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it would also have meant a Japanese whaler actually having to interact civilly with SS...and that would never do!!
Now...despite being ordered by Australia out of the World Heritage Area and territorial waters of Macquarie Island, YM3 remains just one mile outside the 12-mile territorial limit (but still in the whale sanctuary). The ship is breaking Oz law which bans such vessels in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as well as territorial waters. But the problem is: there's no Oz vessel down there to police the EEZ, so it's a bit like crying over spilt milk.  
Meanwhile Bob Barker, in heavy fog, got away from YM3 and is heading south to find the rest of the whaling fleet...

No comments: