Greetings everyone. Well here is some news that I was really hoping that I would not have to bring to you guys this year. According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Japanese Whaling Fleet has started to make their way south to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. This year, the Japanese self imposed quota for their whale hunt is 935 minke whales, 50 humpback whales, and 50 ENDANGERED fin whales for a grand total of 1,035 whales. The last whaling factory ship in the world, the Nisshin Maru is currently steaming south, most likely the harpoon and security vessels are not far ahead or behind. The Japanese claim that they are killing whales for scientific research. They claim to need to kill the whales to study things such as stomach content. This can easily be done in a non lethal matter by examining the animal's waste, but that' a different story.
The Japanese will once again be conducting their hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Yes you read that right. There will be a hunt in a sanctuary. Does that seem right to you? Probably not, and in fact it is illegal. So realistically, the Japanese are not legally killing these whales. Regardless of their claims of killing the whales for scientific research, which according to the IWC they are allowed to do, the zone they whale in is protected by the Australian Government. The whalers do not have the permission of the Australian government to be down there whaling, but that's a law they have broke again and again. Australia has taken Japan to International Court over the whaling issue, but so far no ruling has come down from that court, giving Japan the green light to get things started. Personally, I believe that if the ruling does come down against Japan, that it will not deter them from whaling and here's why. Australia has yet to take any serious action against the whaling fleet. Every year they go down and every year Sea Shepherd stands alone (with the "support" of the Australian government). Australia needs to stop simply tucking their tails between their legs. The Australian government promised to put an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean, but so far it has done little to make good on that promise.
Currently, there is an Australian security boat, the Ocean Protector, which is patrolling the islands near the Southern Ocean. However, it sounds like it will not be going south to observe the whaling fleet and ensure that no whales will be killed in the protected Australian zone. Last year, clashes between Sea Shepherd and Japan reached the highest levels of violence that you can really have on the high seas, and it really is amazing that nobody on either side sustained any kind of serious injury. At one point, one of the Sea Shepherd vessels, the Bob Barker, was literally smashed between the massive factory ship and the whaling fleet's refueling ship, the Sun Laurel. This violent crash as a result of the Sea Shepherd attempting to prevent the illegal refueling of the whaling fleet below the legal latitude refueling line.
During this same campaign, the factory ship also wound up colliding with the refueling ship, destroying the ship's life raft. If something major had happened on that ship, the Sun Laurel's crew would have had no escape other than diving into the freezing sea. The collision could have also triggered a massive fuel spill, which thankfully did not happen. There's a reason that it's illegal to refuel below a certain latitude.
Sea Shepherd Australia has notified the Australian government that the whalers are once again heading south. Now we all wait to see what the government's actions will be. I for one expect a whole lot of nothing as usual, but I again hope that I am wrong. Sea Shepherd Australia will be launching it's ships very soon to intercept the whaling fleet and do what the government should be doing. Given the violence and near sinking of the Bob Barker last year, it is safe to say that the Japanese are now willing to do whatever they want to do to get Sea Shepherd out of the way, including sinking them. If nothing else, it's this fact alone that should be enough for Australia to send a ship down to monitor what is going on before someone on either side is killed or a ship is sunk in the Southern Ocean.
For the past few years, the whaling fleet has come back heavily in the red due to Sea Shepherd's interference, which the ICR even admits to in their statements. Will this be the case again? I certainly hope it will be. No I actually hope that this court ruling comes down and Japan actually packs up and leaves the Southern Ocean with no violence or loss of life anywhere. I doubt it'll happen, but that is my hope. The Whale Wars are officially on once again. I will, as I did last year be doing my best to keep you all up to date on what is going on. I'll try to give reports from both sides of the fence, but will obviously be on the side of the Sea Shepherds. Stay tuned!