Two whaling ships and a surveillance vessel left the port of Shimonoseki to RV with the factory ship Nisshin Maru and the refueling vessel Sun Laurel, on the passage south to hunt minke and fin whales. The harpooners no longer have their AIS (Automatic Identification System) on, so cannot be accurately located.
Their departure means the fleet is likely to reach the Antarctic towards the end of this month: their mission is to kill 1035 whales - 935 protected minke, 50 endangered fin and 50 humpbacks.
Oz Federal Enviro Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed Australia will monitor Japanese whalers over the New Year (though operational details have not been revealed). He did however meet with the Japanese ambassador a few days ago to reaffirm the Oz position.
Sea Shepherd's three ships are expected to leave Melbourne and Hobart next week: onboard, over 100 crew from 23 nationalities.
|Target One on the move|
Last season, whaling and protest ships repeatedly collided in waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory, as the Japanese fleet was held to its lowest-ever kill: just 103 whales.