The first indication that the Japanese whaling fleet may return to the Southern Ocean in December of this year came with the recent announcement that the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries has requested the Japanese Coast Guard to dispatch a patrol boat to escort the Japanese whaling fleet back to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Although it does not make any practical or economic sense for the Japanese whaling fleet to return to Antarctic waters, the nationalist factor appears to be the primary motivation for the persistent stubbornness of the Japanese whalers to press on with their irresponsible and illegal activities in the Southern Ocean. But stubbornness must be met with stubbornness and the determination of the Japanese whalers to cruelly slaughter whales must be met with a greater determination on the part of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to obstruct and shut down their illegal activities to protect whales.
According to the Japan Times, "The whaling fleet suspended operations in the Antarctic Ocean last season due to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's actions, which forced the fleet's four vessels to return home in February after catching far fewer whales than planned."
Japan will seek to have Sea Shepherd activities shut down by the Netherlands, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia at next week's annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) held in the British Channel Islands. Sea Shepherd's vessel the Brigitte Bardot will be berthed at the island of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, when the IWC meets.
"We are unconcerned about Japan's threats," said Captain Paul Watson. "Japan has no legal basis to shut us down and the Japanese Coast Guard has no legal basis to send a patrol vessel down to the Southern Ocean in December. It is simply all bluff and bluster with the Japanese Fishery Ministry with their continued attempts to justify their illegal activities in the Southern Ocean. Japanese patrol boat or no patrol boat, if the whalers return to the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd ships will return to counter them."
Sea Shepherd is seeking a fourth vessel to join its expeditionary force for Operation Divine Wind. "We need one large vessel for each of the harpoon vessels. The Japanese tactic of tailing our two large ships to relay our position ahead to the factory ships works, but at the cost of sacrificing the whale killing activities of each harpoon vessel," said Captain Locky MacLean. "This year their extra harpoon vessel was able to kill whales while the other two tailed the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker. We need to counter that third harpoon vessel and for that we need another ship."
In addition to violating international conservation law pertaining to whaling, Japan will be in violation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) if they return south of the 60th parallel with the Nisshin Maru factory ship. As of August 2011, all ships operating with heavy fuel will be banned from entering the Antarctic Treaty zone. Additionally, it is illegal for military vessels to operate in the waters of the Antarctic Treaty Zone. If the Japanese Coast Guard escorts the whaling fleet they will be doing so illegally.
"I have decided to name the next campaign Operation Divine Wind," said Captain Watson. "The Japanese public is well aware of the meaning of 'kamikaze.' 'Kami' the 'wind' and 'kaze' translated as 'divine' or the 'wind of the Gods.' What this means is that we call upon the 'divine wind' to protect the whales from the cruelty and criminally lethal activities of the Japanese whalers."
Sea Shepherd will never retreat or surrender in the face of threats and opposition from the Japanese whalers and the Japanese government. The conservation society is committed to ending illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and will utilize every, and all aggressive non-violent strategies and tactics to achieve that objective.
"We will end whaling in the Southern Ocean," said Captain Watson, "No matter how prolonged the effort, how dangerous the risks, or the sacrifices we need to make. We have pledged our lives and freedom to ending this slaughter, and we will achieve this noble objective, or we will die trying."
The Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot will be defending pilot whales in the Danish Protectorate of the Faeroe Islands this summer before returning to the Southern hemisphere to join the Bob Barker and once again intervene against the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling fleet.