1800 Hours: Perth and Fremantle
100 Hours: Sydney and Hobart
0200 Hours: (PST) Friday Harbor and Los Angeles
Captain Paul Watson has ordered the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker to disengage from further pursuit of the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru and to set a course for Hobart, Tasmania.
"The Bob Barker has a fuel valve problem that has a potential to cause an engine breakdown," said Captain Paul Watson, "I can't risk leaving the Bob Barker down on the coast of Antarctica without the Steve Irwin as back-up to assist. Therefore, I felt the safest thing to do was to end the campaign and recall the ship to port. Both ships have done an awesome job this year. We've hurt the Japanese whaling fleet more this year than any year before."
The decision to officially break off the engagement as of midnight marks three full weeks that the Japanese whaling fleet has been unable to kill a single whale.
Only two more weeks remain in the whaling season. By the time the whalers regroup and deal with the weather, they will not be able to recoup their losses.
"When we add these three weeks to the two days of interventions by the Nisshin Maru and the 8-10 days that the entire fleet ran 2,500 miles to the West in January, it means a shutdown of an entire month. Add to this the days lost to bad weather, and the fact that two harpoon vessels spent weeks tailing Sea Shepherd ships, and with the Shonan Maru 2 out of the picture and on it's way to Japan with Captain Peter Bethune as a prisoner, it spells financial disaster for Japan's whaling fleet," said Captain Paul Watson. "Operation Waltzing Matilda has been our most successful campaign in the six year history of our interventions in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We have done the best job possible with the resources available to us, and I am confident that we have prevented the slaughter of hundreds of whales."
The Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin is scheduled to arrive back in Hobart on March 6th. The Bob Barker will follow a few days later.
Sea Shepherd will now arrange a legal defense for Captain Peter Bethune in Japan.
The Steve Irwin is scheduled to depart on March 16th for the Mediterranean to oppose Bluefin tuna poachers.