Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship, the Steve Irwin, dropped anchor off of Williamstown near Melbourne at noon on Saturday, March 15, 2008 officially ending the 2007-2008 campaign to protect and defend whales from illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
Its been a long campaign, said Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd. Three and a half months and over twenty thousand miles covered, and most importantly, over five hundred whales saved from death. We were successful, and the crew are feeling damn good at what we have achieved.
Upon arrival at anchor, the Steve Irwin was boarded and cleared by Australian Customs and Immigration, as well as officers of the Australian Federal Police. All the crew members were free to depart the ship. After the authorities departed, two Japanese television crew members boarded the ship to conduct interviews. People cheered from the Williamstown dock as crew members disembarked over the course of the afternoon.
The Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research has admitted that it will not get even half its kill quota this year, and it has publicly attributed this failure to direct interference by Sea Shepherd.
We may have been condemned by the bureaucrats and the politicians, but the people of Australian are with us, said Captain Watson. More importantly, while our critics were condemning and denouncing us, we were saving the lives of whales, and that fact alone is worth all the condemnations the politicians can throw at us.
There will be little time for rest. On March 24, Sea Shepherd's ship, the Farley Mowat, will depart from Bermuda and head north to intervene against the planned slaughter of 325,000 harp seal pups on the eastern coast of Canada. There is no rest on planetary duty, said Sea Shepherd crew member Amber Paarman, from South Africa, who will be leaving the Steve Irwin this week to join the Farley Mowat in Bermuda. Paarman and Captain Watson will be accompanied by whale campaign crew members Shannon Mann, Willie Houtman, Stephen Sikes, and Peter Hammarstedt as they journey to join seal campaign crew members already stationed on board the Farley Mowat--all are eager for its imminent departure.