The Japanese whaling fleet are not where they should be this time of year.
Last year the fleet was operating in the Ross Sea. This year their “scientific survey” was supposed to take place in the waters south and west of Tasmania, east and south of South Africa.
Every year they alternate. But not this year! Although the whalers attempted to begin their killing operations in the waters southwest of Australia, the Sea Shepherd ships have chased the entire whaling fleet ever eastward. At 1700 hours AEST, the Bob Barker encountered the Yushin Maru No. 3 at 66 Degrees, 22 minutes South and 179 Degrees, 05 minutes West.
From being intercepted 500 miles west of Fremantle, Australia, the Japanese fleet has run over 4,500 nautical miles for the last 30 days, all the way into the Ross Sea, far to the East of Australia. This is an average of 150 miles a day, leaving very little time to kill whales with only one harpoon vessel. The other two harpoon vessels have either been tailing or searching for the Sea Shepherd ships.
“You can say we chased the whale killers into yesterday since we have crossed the International Date Line,” said Captain Paul Watson, of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin. “This illustrates that they really have no scientific agenda at all since their so-called survey requires them to “sample” whales from the two different areas alternatively each year. This is not about science and it never has been. It’s not even about profit anymore because we have negated their profits. It’s simply about pride. Whaling in the Southern Ocean has become a heavily subsidized welfare project for an archaic industry that has no place in the twenty-first century.”
Sea Shepherd’s campaign, Operation Divine Wind, has been challenging this year due to the thirty million dollars allocated to the whaling fleet for added security. This money was taken from the tsunami and earthquake relief fund.
“They have ten million dollars for every one million dollars we have to finance our three ships,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen of the Bob Barker. “They have the full support of their government and literally have a license to kill because if any of us are injured or killed, their government will back them and justify their actions. Our governments condemn us just for tossing rotten butter on their decks.”
The chase across the bottom of the world involves five ships from the Japanese whaling fleet and two ships from Sea Shepherd. The third Sea Shepherd ship, the Brigitte Bardot, was damaged by heavy seas and had to return to Fremantle, Australia for repairs.
Never before has the Japanese whaling fleet abandoned one designated whaling “survey” area for another. Sea Shepherd has apparently seriously disrupted the Japanese whaling plan for this season and has cost them a huge amount in fuel costs. In addition, two of the three harpoon vessels have been taken away from killing whales in order to tail the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker. The Yushin Maru No. 2 is tailing the Steve Irwin and the Yushin Maru No. 3 is tailing the Bob Barker. This has left only the Yushin Maru to hunt for whales.
Sea Shepherd has been able to keep the whaling fleet on the move and continues to track their movements by relying on drone operations and ten years of experience following the predictable movements of the whalers.
Last season the Bob Barker was able to chase the Nisshin Maru all the way to the tip of South America before they quit and returned to Japan in humiliation after taking only seventeen percent of their kill quota.