All poaching operations by the Japanese whaling fleet have been shut down as of 0800 Hours AEDT this morning.
All poaching operations by the Japanese whaling fleet have been shut down as of 0800 Hours AEDT this morning. The Sea Shepherd Ship (SSS) Steve Irwin has joined the SSS Bob Barker, which is tailing the whalers’ factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. The Bob Barker has been engaged with the illegal whaling fleet since it intercepted the Nisshin Maru at 1000 hours AEDT yesterday morning.
Both Sea Shepherd ships, Dutch registered and flagged, have tailed the whale butchering ship to the bottom of the earth and back again. The Steve Irwin and Bob Barker chased the Nisshin Maru south in the Cooperation Sea, until they reached the Amery Ice Shelf, at which time the Nisshin Maru turned around, and continues traveling north. The Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin are maintaining a safe distance from the Nisshin Maru and intend to follow the factory ship for the duration of the whaling season.
The harpoon vessels Yushin Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3 are nearby but are not whaling. All five ships are in the Cooperation Sea. This position is close to the coast of Antarctica, within the Australian Antarctic Territory, and is directly south of India.
The temperature is negative nine degrees centigrade, the sea around the ships is filled with numerous icebergs, and the winds are increasing. Despite the bitter cold, the crews are in good spirits, the Steve Irwin having been at sea for 103 days since departing Melbourne on the 5th of November
Operation Zero Tolerance Co-Campaign Leader, Bob Brown said, “Back in September 2007, the up and coming Australian Government stated that it had the guts to stand up to the whalers. Well, it’s been over 5 years now and if it were not for Sea Shepherd, over four thousand whales would have had their lives extinguished as a result of these cruel and barbaric poachers. Sea Shepherd is doing the work that the Australian people want to see done, they do not want to see Australia's whales being butchered by these whale poachers from Japan."
Australian-registered SSS Sam Simon is about 300 miles to the east of the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin, tailing the Panamanian-registered, South Korean owned fuel tanker Sun Laurel, believed to be carrying heavy fuel oil (HFO). This act itself, as well as the act of fuelling another vessel would be deemed illegal under MARPOL (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships) ANNEX 1 Regulation 43, including a special Chapter 9, which prohibits the use and carriage of HFOs in the area, with the exception of vessels engaged in securing the safety of ships or in a search and rescue operation. Captain of the Sam Simon, Australian Luis Manuel Pinho, notified Sea Shepherd Australian Director Jeff Hansen of the incursion who in turn officially reported the Sun Laurel's incursion below 60° south to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
“I believe Antarctica is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, a place that gives you a taste of one of the last wild places left on our planet”, says Hansen. “This is the whales’ summer feeding grounds, it’s an established whale sanctuary and it is illegal to kill whales under Australian Federal Law. Yet here we have seen these poachers from Japan rubbing all Australians' noses in it by chasing down and harpooning an adult Minke whale in Australia's waters.”
The crew of the Bob Barker was horrified to see the Yushin Maru No. 2 illegally harpoon a whale at a position of 68°02' South, 75°44' E at 1753 on 15th February, deep in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Since January 29th, the Sea Shepherd fleet has chased the Japanese whaling fleet for 2,500 miles westward from the Ross Sea.
The Yushin Maru No. 1 is hundreds of miles east of this position and low on fuel.