The Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker have now had the illegal Japanese whaling processing ship, Nisshin Maru, on the run for two weeks. No whales have has been killed since February 5th.
Three weeks remain in the whaling season, and the Sea Shepherd ships have fuel reserves to continue the chase. The Bob Barker was refitted prior to purchase and has fuel capacity four times what it was designed for.
"I believe the continued running of the Nisshin Maru from East to West and back East again is their attempt to run us out of fuel," said Captain Paul Watson, "I think they are now surprised that we are still on their tail and continuing to disrupt their illegal whaling operations." With the Shonan Maru No. 2 disengaged to transport Captain Peter Bethune to Japan, this removes the fourth harpoon boat from the fleet.
"I think we can guarantee now that the Japanese whaling fleet will fail to get their kill quota by 30% to 55% based on past observations of Sea Shepherd disruptions," said Captain Watson, "They will not be seeing any profits for this season."
Mr. Masayuki Komatsu, the former Japanese whaling commissioner who once referred to Minke whales as the "cockroaches" of the sea, has warned Japan not to retreat from whaling in Antarctica because it would be handing a decisive victory for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "Our minister said that they are going to retreat from Antarctica, Sea Shepherd must be happier," Komatsu said.
"If the only reason that Japan wishes to continue whaling is because they refuse to be seen backing down from Sea Shepherd than that is truly pathetic and extremely petty on the part of the Japanese government," said Captain Watson, "What Komatsu is really saying is that we are humiliating Japan by effectively disrupting their illegal poaching activities. If it's now all about saving face now that they've already lost, then they should retreat while they still have half a face left."
The Sea Shepherd ships will be pursuing the Japanese fleet this weekend during the visit to Australia by Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.
The Japanese fleet is staying just outside the boundaries of the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters (EEZ) most likely for diplomatic reason during the Okada visit. This move can be viewed as an unofficial recognition of the EEZ. In 2008, the Australian Federal Court ruled that Japan could not kill whales inside the waters of the EEZ. The Japanese whaling fleet is in contempt of that Federal Court order.