From onboard the Steve Irwin in the Southern Oceans
The Australian Customs and Fisheries Patrol vessel Oceanic Viking has thrown the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin off the trail of the Japanese fleet.
After picking up the two Sea Shepherd crewmembers from the Yushin Maru No. 2 the Oceanic Viking notified the Steve Irwin to head for a rendezvous point a few hours away.
This was unusual considering that the Yushin Maru No. 2 was only about ten miles away at the time. The Steve Irwin was forced to stop tailing the Yushin Maru No. 2 to meet up with the Oceanic Viking. This allowed the whaler to head off in an unknown direction to rejoin the factory ship Nisshin Maru.
After dropping off Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane, the Oceanic Viking headed off in a direction away from the Japanese fleet. The fleet then apparently changed course and has now been lost from Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace tagging along with the Nishin Maru has reported that the catcher boats have met back up with the main fleet.
Although Sea Shepherd has been relaying the position of the catcher boats to the Greenpeace ship Esperanza for the last three days, Greenpeace refuses reciprocate and refuses to reveal the present location of the fleet.
"With "allies" like the Australian government and Greenpeace, it is becoming increasing difficult to keep the Japanese fleet from killing whales," said Captain Paul Watson. "Australian Customs deliberately led us away from the fleet and Greenpeace is guarding the coordinates like the crown jewels to prevent us re-locating the fleet."
Complicating the search is the fact that the Japanese have sent a new ship the Fukoyoshi No. 68 to shadow the Steve Irwin at all times. The vessel is not part of the whaling fleet. It's a large Japanese drag trawler. It does not have any fishing gear onboard and seems to have more electronic gear than normal for a fishing vessel. This ship is apparently reporting the Steve Irwin's position to the Japanese fleet.
Sea Shepherd has shut down whaling for a week. Unless the Steve Irwin can find the fleet soon, the killing will begin again. The Oceanic Viking will take pictures of dying whales and Greenpeace will hang banners, take pictures and continue on with their ineffective stunts. They will not stop the killing.
"If whales begin to die within the next few days, I will hold Greenpeace and the Australian government responsible," said Captain Paul Watson. "They know we can stop the killing because whales don't die when Sea Shepherd arrives. By leading us off the tail of the whalers and refusing to cooperate on coordinates they are deliberately helping the whalers to escape from Sea Shepherd and to resume the slaughter of the whales. I understand that Greenpeace needs kill footage and images of "heroic eco-warriors" buzzing about in inflatables but that does not stop the harpoons. Our very presence will deter the Japanese from killing whales. Sea Shepherd is the best weapon that Greenpeace can use to stop the resumption of whaling. By withholding cooperation they are contributing to the death of the whales. If any whales are killed within the next week I will hold Greenpeace responsible for their deaths because they have the power to cooperate with Sea Shepherd to prevent the killing from continuing."
The Steve Irwin is conducting helicopter surveillance patrols to re-locate the whaling fleet. The fleet should be within two hundred miles of Sea Shepherd.