Killing Time is Better Than Whalers Killing Whales
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd is fully prepared and battle ready, but it appears the Japanese whalers are tardy to the party. The Japanese whaling fleet is on its way to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary two weeks later than usual, and without a supply vessel or a sighting vessel.
Every year, the whalers descend to the whale sanctuary weaker, and Sea Shepherd returns stronger, and this year, Sea Shepherd has never been stronger or better prepared. Our ships the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker have been completely overhauled, and all systems are in perfect running order. Our helicopter has been upgraded from a Hughes 300C to an MD500E, giving us greater range, speed and a heavier payload. And we have acquired a new fast interceptor vessel.
With a crew of ninety from nineteen nations, all determined to passionately intervene against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, we are feeling extremely confident that this year will be a successful campaign. There is also a crew of seventeen members from Animal Planet spread onboard all three ships to produce the fourth season of Whale Wars.
What is truly ironic is why the Japanese whaling fleet does not have a supply vessel.
Apparently the Institute of Cetacean Research has been so enthusiastic in its condemnation of Sea Shepherd as eco-terrorist criminal pirates that it has scared the potential ship owners from leasing it a supply vessel. The whalers don’t have a supply vessel of their own, and they need to have a ship bring down fuel and to offload whale meat because of limited storage room on the Nisshin Maru factory ship. So without a supply and refueling ship, their whaling season may well be cut short, unless they can still manage to find a company willing to risk a confrontation with us “eco-desperado” types.
With the whaling fleet leaving Japan late on December 2, they will not meet their normal start time of mid-December, which means the whalers will most likely not be in position to harpoon a whale until the end of December or early January. By then, Sea Shepherd ships will be there in the Southern Ocean before they arrive, and the earlier we can intercept them, the more effective we will be.
The Japanese fleet will not get its quota this season, and that is a certainty. Our challenge is to make sure the killers don’t get a quota at all, or at the very least a substantially lower quota than last season when we were able to save more whales (528), than they were able to kill (507).
The kill permit this season issued by Japan Fisheries is for 935 piked (Minke) whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpbacks, for a total of 1035 whales.
The Japanese have reported that they will have armed coast guard officers onboard their whaling ships, and we expect them to be more aggressive and violent than ever because of their increasing frustration at being denied a profit for the last five years.
I am confident that we can sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically. That is our objective, and I have a crew passionately determined to see that we succeed in realizing this objective.
Meanwhile, our ships must conserve fuel and supplies by killing time at anchor for a few days. We will be down in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary before the whalers, but we don’t want to be there too far in advance before them. The timing is right, and all systems are on stand-by waiting for the arrival of the invading killers.