The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has no alternative but to disengage from further pursuit of the Nisshin Maru. The Steve Irwin will now head for Wellington, New Zealand to refuel and then will return to the Southern Ocean.
"We have run our fuel levels down to the point that we have no choice but to disengage," said Captain Paul Watson.
The Bob Barker will continue to pursue the whaling fleet. The Gojira is en route back to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from Hobart, Australia.
"Our continuous disruption, the constant fleeing of the factory ship, and the fact that two of three harpoon vessels have been taken off from whaling duties to tail Sea Shepherd for a month have significantly damaged the ability of the Japanese whaling fleet to conduct their operations down here in the sanctuary," said captain of the Bob Barker Alex Cornelissen. "We will hound them until the end of the season. This whale sanctuary must be defended from these greedy poachers."
"I am confident that the crews of the Bob Barker and the Gojira can keep the pressure on the whalers while we refuel and resupply," said Captain Watson. "I've got two excellent captains and two incredibly passionate crews on those two vessels. The whales will remain in good hands while we are gone."
It is a seven-day voyage to New Zealand, and seven days back, plus approximately two days in port. The Steve Irwin should be back in the Southern Ocean by mid February. The whaling season will last through mid to late March.
The whalers have become increasingly desperate in recent days, and have entered large heavy fields of ice to lose the Sea Shepherd ships.
"No matter where they go, we will follow them, and we will be relentless in our pursuit. It is a vast ocean down here fraught with dangers from weather and ice and with no recourse for assistance, if needed. We recognize these dangers and we recognize that this is a difficult campaign against a ruthless opposition. We have no alternative but to do all that we can to save as many whales as we can and to defend what is designated by law as a sanctuary for whales," said Captain Watson.