There was nothing said in the media about it and only a small notice on the Japanese language website of the Institute for Cetacean Research the official page for the Japanese whaling fleet, but it appears the illegal North Pacific whaling operations by Japan resulted in another tragic accident that killed a member of the crew of the Nisshin Maru.
The crewmember was apparently crushed to death in a conveyor belt on the processing deck of the factory ship. This is the second fatality on the Nisshin Maru in less than a year. A crewmember died in the fire that swept through the Nisshin Maru off the coast of Antarctica in February 2007. Ten years ago the Nisshin Maru was also gutted by a fire while enroute to Antarctica.
"It must be painfully obvious by now that the Nisshin Maru is a floating disaster," said Captain Paul Watson from onboard the Sea Shepherd ship Robert Hunter in Tasmania. "How many more men are the Japanese willing to kill to continue this illegal poaching of whales?"
The Nisshin Maru is a floating factory filled with diesel and toxic chemicals. In February it came very close to sinking, a disaster that would have sent hundreds of tons of fuel and chemicals into the sea just offshore of one of the largest penguin rookeries in Antarctica.
Japan protested to the International Whaling Commission that Sea Shepherd presented a threat to safety at sea. They asked that the IWC condemn Sea Shepherd activities. Yet it has not been the Sea Shepherd crew who have been responsible for the deaths and injuries in the Japanese whaling fleet. In fact the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has an unblemished record of non-violence. We have never caused or sustained an injury to a single person in over three decades of operations.
Sailors are being killed on the Japanese ships because of gross incompetence by the Captain and officers of the Nisshin Maru. To have a crewmember crushed in a conveyor belt is an indication that safety measures are being ignored. To have two cataclysmic fires in a decade indicates that proper measures to avoid and fight fires have not been implemented. The deliberate ramming of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd ships by the whalers exposes the blatant hypocrisy of these killers who have the audacity to call whale defenders violent for protecting life as they continue to flagrantly disregard the welfare of their own crew. But then what can one expect from people who deliberately feed mercury poisoned dolphin and whale meat to their children to make a profit?
How many more whales and whalers will the Japanese kill before they are forced to end their cruel and illegal whaling activities?