Monday, January 16, 2006
Sea Shepherd Forced to Retreat from Whaling Grounds for Fuel
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Farley Mowat has been forced to leave the Southern Oceans and stop the month-long chase of the Japanese whaling fleet.
"We are disappointed to have to leave, but we now have no alternative as we no longer have the fuel resources to stay. We have over stretched our fuel and now have just enough to reach the nearest port," said Captain Paul Watson. Sea Shepherd had made arrangements to refuel from a tanker near the French Kerguelen Islands but the delivery was cancelled.
The Japanese whaling fleet illegally - and with impunity - refueled from a tanker inside the Antarctic Treaty Zone. The Sea Shepherd ship does not have that luxury of operating in violation of the Antarctic Treaty (and would not do so regardless).
The Farley Mowat has been at sea since December 6, 2005. "We have spent 40 days at sea and during that time we have chased the Japanese fleet from 175 Degrees East to 65 Degrees East, a distance of over 4,000 kilometers," reported Captain Watson. "We cannot match their speed, so it has been a case of catching up and forcing them to run, then catching up with them again. They run every time they see us and overall we have been able to keep them from killing whales for over 15 days in total."
The Farley Mowat must now head to the nearest port to refuel. The last position of the Japanese whaling fleet was 64-25S 63-20E (weather - foggy with light snow), heading at a speed of 13 knots on a SW course of 270 degrees. It will take the Farley Mowat 10 days to reach the nearest port. "We pushed it as far as we possibly could," said 1st Officer Alex Cornelissen of the Netherlands. "If we don't run into any extreme weather we should have just enough fuel to make land."
Captain Paul Watson reports that he learned a great deal about how to stop the Japanese whalers. "This year we have kept them on the run and they ran from us like cowards. We intimidated them. We knew we could not outrun them; we were limited to chasing them. Next year it is our plan to return with a ship that can match the speed of the Nisshin Maru. If we can keep up with the outlaw whalers, we should be able to prevent them from killing whales every day."
Sea Shepherd has accomplished as much as possible with the resources available to the organization for the 2005 and 2006 season. The ship has plenty of food and water for the crew of 43 for the next 10 days.
"We wish the Greenpeace crew the best of luck in their efforts to protest the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese fleet. They have done an excellent job in exposing the crimes of the whalers to the public," said Captain Watson from the Farley Mowat which is now en route north from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Sea Shepherd is committed to shutting down the 17 year JARPA II program that has plans for the whalers to slaughter over 18,000 piked whales (minke) and thousands of endangered fin and humpback whales.
The Japanese fleet has wasted 15 days and a great deal of fuel in their efforts to avoid a confrontation with the Sea Shepherd activists. "We will see them again next December and with a faster ship we intend to fully enforce international conservation laws against the illegal whaling operations," said 2nd Officer Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden.