The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet for sixty days. The Steve Irwin has covered 13,000 nautical miles and the Bob Barker has covered 14,500 nautical miles.
There is still another possible fifty days remaining in the whaling season.
The Sea Shepherd crew intend to remain in pursuit of the whaling fleet until the end of the season which will be sometime between March 15th and March 25th.
Sea Shepherd has been faced with many obstacles this season. The first being the allocation of some $30 million dollars in subsidies taken from the tsunami and earthquake relief fund to provide security for the whaling fleet and the second being the loss of our scout vessel, the Brigitte Bardot, when it was damaged by a rogue wave early in the campaign.
Despite this the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker have kept the fleet on the run continuously and will continue to do so.
The whaling fleet has sacrificed the use of 64 days of harpoon vessel operations in order to keep tailing the Sea Shepherd ships. If the whalers take an average of eight whales per day this works out to about 512 whales not killed because of being occupied with keeping the Sea Shepherd ships from closing in on the whaling fleet. Essentially the Nisshin Maru has only had one harpoon vessel to work with and both of these vessels have been forced to keep moving, leaving little time to stop and whale.
The Yushin Maru has chased the Steve Irwin for 4 days.
The Yushin Maru No. 2 has chased the Steve Irwin for 22 days
The Yushin Maru No. 3 has chased the Steve Irwin for 10 days and the Bob Barker for 18 days
The Shonan Maru No. 2 has chased the Steve Irwin for 20 days and the Bob Barker for 12 days.
Yushin Maru: Total days of chasing Sea Shepherd and not whaling: 4 days
Yushin Maru No. 2: Total days of chasing Sea Shepherd and not whaling: 34 days
Yushin Maru No. 3: Total days of chasing Sea Shepherd and not whaling: 26 days
Shonan Maru No. 2: Total days of chasing Sea Shepherd: 32 days (Security ship)
It is likely that the two Sea Shepherd ships have also obstructed and prevented refueling of the Nisshin Maru by the tanker Sun Laurel.
The fleet for the first time left their designated “survey” area and returned to last year’s survey area in the Ross Sea in an attempt to lose the Sea Shepherd vessels, which were in pursuit.
“If they have managed to get 80 whales by now I would be surprised,” said Captain Paul Watson.
Although the Sea Shepherd ships cannot close in on the Nisshin Maru because of the tailing harpoon vessels they can still track the Nisshin Maru with drones, and by relying on ice and weather information, and can therefore still keep the entire fleet on the run.
To be 100% effective Sea Shepherd needs another ship down here to keep all three harpoon vessels occupied and that ship needs to be able to exceed the speed of the harpoon vessels.
Sea Shepherd has made an official invitation to Greenpeace to send a ship to achieve this 100% coverage. Greenpeace has declined.
So to achieve this 100% objective, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has begun a campaign to raise funds to secure a fourth ship for the 2012/2013 campaign.
In the meantime, the Bob Barker will return north to secure more fuel while the Steve Irwin continues the pursuit. The Bob Barker will return with enough fuel for both ships to continue the chase until the end of the whaling season.
“We will not give this fleet of whale poachers a break,” said Captain Watson. “We will chase them until Hell freezes over and it will do just that by the end of March when the Antarctic ice will force the whale serial killers from these waters. As long as they are running they can’t kill whales and every day we prevent them from killing whales is a victory for Sea Shepherd and the whales.”