Monday, October 29, 2012

Bringing It Home

Activist environmental group Sea Shepherd will be bringing this year's anti-whaling campaign right to Japan's front door.
Their ships leave from Sydney and Melbourne, Oz in the next few days to meet the whaling fleet in its home waters for the first time. While SS founder Paul Watson's been quiet in the past few months after skipping bail in Germany, he's preparing his crew for another confrontation: "It's time to bring intervention north and show Japan we intend to ensure there are no whales killed. We've never been stronger, and the Japanese've never been weaker..."
This year's campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance, will be using four ships and a crew of 110. Deputy Leader Peter Hammarstedt says if they can reach the whalers soon after setting sail, they may achieve their goal of zero kills.
For a short while, it appeared as if the nasty Nippons would call off this year's butchery due to the necessary overhaul of Nisshin Maru, the fleet's flagship, that would cause them miss their departure date. However the Japanese Fisheries Agency quickly killed that thought when news reached the international community, spurred by the fear of 'losing face' over their farcical attempts to convince the world of the need for lethal scientific whale "research".
The only other time anti-whalers approached Japan's waters was when Greenpeace's ship Esperanza tried to catch Nisshin Maru in 2007: the Japan Coast Guard came to its rescue. That was one of the last times Greenpeace actually put its money where its mouth was, over Japanese whaling...
There may be a similar outcome this year for, while SS may have four ships, two choppers, eight RIBs and four drones, the Japan Coast Guard has 12,000 sailors and hundreds of ships, already on high alert due to repeated threats from Chinese vessels.
The Institute for Cetacean Research (the Japanese govt-funded organisation managing the whaling fleet) revealed this month that SS's actions cost whalers $25.2 million in losses in the 2010-11 season, because they had been able to catch only 17% of their quota, and 26% in 2011-12. Watson: "The key to success in stopping illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary is economics. We will negate their profits. Our objective is to sink the fleet economically and we are well on our way to doing that."
SS's expedition begins on November 5th, with the crews employing unmanned drones to locate the whaling fleet early in the Pacific. SS's ships the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Bridgette Bardot will then try to disrupt the fleet as it heads south. The new addition to the team, Sam Simon, will be waiting "somewhere" in the Southern Ocean...

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