Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sea Shepherd Locates the Japanese Whaling Fleet

    Hello everyone and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and whatever other holiday you choose to celebrate! Just a few minutes ago on Sea Shepherd Global's Facebook page it was announced that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has located the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. According to the Facebook post, the two Sea Shepherd vessels located one of the harpoon vessels in thick fog hiding out behind an iceberg. The harpoon ship apparently emerged from behind the iceberg and took a collision course with the two other ships, though no collision was reported.

    This marks the first meeting between the activists and the whaling fleet in a few years. Last year, Sea Shepherd continued to battle the Japanese whaling fleet in court as it illegally returned to the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary while it also operated an operation against illegal fishing in the area. At the time, the Sea Shepherds did not have a ship that was not already involved in another campaign capable of outspeeding the whaling fleet. The year before that, the whaling fleet took a year off after their whaling program was deemed to be commercial and not scientific.

    So what does the discovery of a harpoon ship mean? Well it means that the factory ship is close by. If the factory ship is located, the Sea Shepherds can do what they have done in the past and block the slipway of the factory ship. That action prevents the whaling fleet from transferring whales from the harpoon ships onto the factory ship. In years past Sea Shepherd has had varying success in keeping near the factory ship. Some years were more successful than others, but all seasons have done big time damage to the profits of the whaling fleet as they have had to continue to dedicate resources to try and shake Sea Shepherd. Every day that they are dealing with Sea Shepherd is a day they are not whaling. The biggest advantage the whaling fleet had in years past was speed. The whaling fleet had even upgraded it's aging factory vessel to give it more speed and with some help, it would be able to get away. Another advantage of the whaling fleet is the numbers game. The whaling fleet at one point had three harpoon ships, the factory ship, a security ship, all down in the Southern Ocean opposing what was three Sea Shepherd ships. This year though the game has changed a bit. The numbers game remains in favor of the whaling fleet, but this year, Sea Shepherd has the speed advantage with their new ship.

    In years past, when the Sea Shepherds located a harpoon ship, the whaling fleet would begin to move around and the harpoon ship would tail the Sea Shepherds and keep the rest of the fleet alerted to where they were. Now though the harpoon ship will be able to follow the one, slower Sea Shepherd vessel, but the new one will out-speed and eventually vanish off the harpoon ship's radar. At that point the ship will potentially have a clear shot to the factory ship. Sea Shepherd is hopeful that they will have located the factory ship before Christmas. Whether or not that will happen, we all wait and see, but one thing is for sure. The Sea Shepherds have located the whaling fleet and have now began cutting into their profits as they occupy one of the harpoon vessels.