|Monday, February 06, 2006|
Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign Update
More News on Our Disruptions of Illegal Japanese Whaling Activity
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has received further clarification of the actions taken on January 8th and 9th, 2006 in Antarctic waters, and the Society is pleased to learn that our intervention was more successful than we realized at the time.
Early on the morning of January 8th, the Farley Mowat was approaching the Japanese whaling fleet. The Nisshin Maru was alongside the supply vessel Oriental Bluebird with 20 mooring lines deployed and large inflated fenders between the two vessels. The Nisshin Maru was in the process of off-loading frozen whale meat onto the Oriental Bluebird.
When the Nisshin Maru captain became aware of the approaching Sea Shepherd ship, he ordered the mooring lines cast off and he quickly disengaged from the Oriental Bluebird. In his panic to pull away from the supply vessel, the captain of the Nisshin Maru was not paying attention to the position of the Greenpeace ships. The Nisshin Maru backed into the Arctic Sunrise causing significant damage to the bow of the Greenpeace ship.
The Nisshin Maru began to run and the Farley Mowat deployed three inflatable boats to pursue the factory ship with gear to deploy to foul the props of the whaling ship. One set of net fouling gear was wrapped around the prop shaft of the Nisshin Maru but did not deter the vessel.
The Nisshin Maru moved some 400 miles to the west to avoid any further confrontations with the Farley Mowat.
On the morning of January 9th, the Farley Mowat intercepted the whaling fleet supply ship Oriental Bluebird. Captain Watson ordered the vessel to leave the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. When the vessel did not respond, the Farley Mowat sideswiped the Oriental Bluebird to emphasize the seriousness of the order. The Farley Mowat was equipped with a hull cutting device on her starboard side known as the can-opener. This device made quite the impression on the supply vessel and they rapidly got underway and sped off at full speed with the Farley Mowat in pursuit.
The Oriental Bluebird did not meet up with the Nisshin Maru again and this means that the Nisshin Maru was not able to offload all of the whale meat they were hoping to ship off to Japan nor were they able to take on more fuel and supplies.
The Nisshin Maru has to unload whale meat because 935 piked whales (minke) and 10 fin whales takes up more room than is available for frozen storage on the factory ship.
Sources on the two Greenpeace ships verified that the Japanese whalers were very much afraid of a confrontation with the Sea Shepherd crew. "They ran like cowards every time the Farley Mowat approached," said one crewmember on the Esperanza.
Greenpeace had the advantage of a ship that was as fast as the whalers. Unfortunately, Greenpeace tactics are limited - restricted to observation and passive protest.
Given a ship that can match the speed of the whalers, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is confident that the entire whale killing fleet can be physically shut down and the whaling brought to a halt.
"It was frustrating to not be able to match their speed, especially so, since we had the key to shutting them down." Said Captain Paul Watson. "We did what we could with the resources available to us. We harassed them, scared them, disrupted them, and I believe we impacted the quota. With a faster ship, we can end their whale killing."
The Farley Mowat has officially reported to the South African Border Police information about our seizure of the Antarctic toothfish longline from the Uruguayan vessel Poloma. The police came aboard to inspect and photograph the line which was found on January 4th, 2006 and was taken on board the Farley Mowat. The line consisted of approximately 4 kilometers of longline, hundreds of hooks, a number of rubber inflatable marker buoys, and a radio transmitter. The line was seized because the Poloma was fishing with it inside the Australian Economic Exclusion zone. This was illegal as the ship was not licensed by Australia to do so. Some of the confiscated line was utilized in attempts to foul the propeller of the outlaw Japanese factory whaler Nisshin Maru.