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Monday, January 16, 2012

Hana Blog 3. English, 16th January 2012

09th January 2012

Forest Rescue Activists Cause Woes for Whalers

In the early morning of the 4th of January 2012, the Shonan Maru 2 (SM2) trespassed into an Australian contiguous zone (24 miles from land) as it pursued the Sea Shepherd ships, Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot. The SM2 is a security/spy ship hired by the Japanese Fishery Agency for this season’s illegal whaling operations in the Antarctic whale sanctuary. The SM2 also carries some Japanese coast guard personnel on board.

On the 8th of January, three brave activists from the Australian environmental group, Forest Rescue (FR), succeeded in boarding the SM2 at dusk. Their mission was to stop the SM2 from tailing the Steve Irwin and allow Sea Shepherd to resume their search for the whale killer’s factory ship, Nisshin Maru (NM). It is difficult for Sea Shepherd to locate and intervene against the NM when they are being tailed by any of the Japanese whaling vessels.

As Australian citizens, the three activists wish to make it clear that they are disappointed in their leaders for their failures to stand up against the arrogant and insensitive actions of the Japanese Government. The activists also had a message for the SM2’s captain,‘Return us to shore in Australia and then remove yourself from our waters.’  The SM2’s captain refused this request. The three activists are still being held on board and, sadly, it seems like the Japanese Government and the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) have chosen to allow the SM2 to tail the Steve Irwin instead of respecting Australia’s law and their territorial waters.

Given that the activists don’t have their passports on them, if the SM2 wants to take them back to Japan for trial, they will be knowingly kidnapping Australian citizens from Australian waters. It would be ridiculous for the SM2 to even consider taking the men back to Japan for trial for trespassing when they themselves are trespassing and illegally staying in Australian waters. I really cannot understand the ICR or the Japanese Government’s way of thinking.

If the whalers opt to have an Australian customs ship come and retrieve the men from the SM2, it’s likely the SM2 will have to give up tailing the Steve Irwin. With this in mind, the SM2 may consider holding the activists hostage until the whaling season finishes just so the whaling operations continue unhindered.

10th January 2012 12pm (AEAT)

Yushin Maru 3 Illegally Enters Australian Waters off Macquarie Island

The Bob Barker has recently reentered Australian territorial waters. This time we were 12 miles out from the World Heritage listed Macquarie Island, located to the far south of Hobart, Tasmania. All Sea Shepherd vessels are welcome to enter Australian waters and the reason the Bob Barker had chosen to do so on this occasion was to prevent the harpoon ship, YM3, from tailing us and relaying our coordinates to the whaling death star, Nisshin Maru.

I was called to the bridge by the captain and asked to inform the YM3 via radio, that they were about to enter Australian waters. I added, should they continue to pursue us into these waters, we would report their illegal activity to the Australian authorities. By Australian law, active harpoon ships (and other illegal whaling vessels) are neither welcome, nor permitted, to enter any Australian waters. After a few minutes without a response I repeated the message. Again the whalers failed to acknowledge my call. However, they did end up responding to my warning.

Eventually the YM3 stopped and backtracked as if deciding what to do next. Suddenly, they began steaming forward, resuming their position off our stern. This time they charged into Australian waters both illegally and without hesitation. I was shocked. In the end, the kill ship came within 4 miles of Australia’s shore. UNBELEIVABLE!! I believe the decision to keep tailing the Bob Barker, and break the law would have had to have come directly from the ICR with the support of the Japanese Government.

This action taken by the Japanese Government is not only overconfident, arrogant, illegal and altogether, unacceptable, it will also surely tarnish the friendship Australia currently shares with Japan. We can now expect greater backlash against both the Australian and Japanese Government from the people of Australia and the larger global community.

Senator Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Greens Party, has demanded the Australian Government send a navy or custom ship to Macquarie Island to protect their waters from trespassers and illegal poachers. If this happens, the YM3 could very well be seized and the whalers arrested. I will be eager to see what stance the Australian Government adopts following this incident. Surely they will have to act otherwise they will be sending an open invite out to the people and industries of every nation to trespass freely into their waters and do whatever they please.

UPDATES: 11th January 2012

Yushin Maru 3 Defies Orders to Leave Australian Waters

Following negotiations, the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has persuaded the Japanese Government to immediately request the removal of the YM3 from the waters off Macquarie Island. Despite Japan agreeing to comply with Australia’s request, the YM3 continued tailing us in Australian waters for over an hour before moving 1 mile outside territorial water. Just when we thought we’d seen the last of them, they reentered Australian waters and started following us yet again!

Forest Rescue Activist Set For Transfer to Australian Customs Vessel

The three Forest Rescue activists who boarded the Shonan Maru 2 will soon be released. Not wanting to lose sight of the Steve Irwin, the SM2 has continued to pursue Sea Shepherd’s ship, forcing the Australian Customs vessel, Oceanic Protector to travel several thousand miles further south than necessary. The transfer was dependent on the SM2 meeting up with the whaling kill ship, Yushin Maru 2 (YM2) which would then take over the chase and allow the SM2 to fulfill their transfer arrangements. As the whalers took the 3 men out of the Australian EEZ without undergoing the proper departure procedures and without their passport, they yet again knowingly partook in the breaking of Australian laws.

Thanks to Sea Shepherd, whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary has now slowed to a snail’s pace as two of the three harpoon ships (YM2 and YM3) have been forced to travel a great distance away from the factory ship, Nisshin Maru. Just one kill ship remains to carry out the grisly deeds of slaughtering whales but that’s still one ship too many. I feel so frustrated and impatient knowing that whales are still being killed. The need to save these magnificent animals now seems greater than ever.

UPDATE: 12th January 2012

The Bob Barker has finally broken away from the YM3 after the whalers were forced to leave Australian waters. Now we can more effectively continue our search for the NM. It’s my greatest hope that we find the NM as soon as possible and apply ourselves to stopping the brutal and inhuman killing of whales.

UPDATE: 13th January 2012

The three FR activists have finally been transferred from the SM2 to the Australian customs ship, Oceanic Protector. Their actions have proven instrumental in the success of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaign. I thank them greatly for bringing attention to this issues and supporting an incredibly worthwhile cause.

UPDATE: 16th January 2012 (Monday)

I have just read the latest media releases from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and have found their statements to be an absolute joke! They criticise Sea Shepherd for their actions yet choose to omit all mention of the whalers illegally trespassing into Australia’s EEZ. Also omitted is the mention of the dangerous high-powered water cannons and stun grenades which they have used against the Sea Shepherd’s small boat crew. The immense pressure from the water cannons has the ability to knock people into ice cold Antarctic waters where death can come within a matter of minutes. Stun grenades are used for their blinding and deafening capabilities. Should a small boat operator become disorientated or concussed by a blast from one of these grenades, there could be fatal consequences for all personnel on board the vessel.

Japanese people have the right to know the truth. Our leaders have a responsibility to conduct fair and open politics before the people they claim to represent. When the Japanese Government do whatever they want, regardless of what’s in the best interest of the people and the planet, I feel ashamed. We have seen this before with the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. With closed minds and stubbornness, they ignore other countries’ laws, deceive their people and insist their way is the only way to do things. With this type of attitude, I’m deeply concerned about the direction Japan is heading in.

Thanks Michael Beasley helping to translate into English every time J