Japanese Warship Enroute to Defend Whalers?

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has received a tip from a reliable source in Japan, that Japan has dispatched a warship to the Southern Ocean for the purpose of protecting their whaling fleet from interference by whale conservation activists. This may explain why the Japanese fleet has not been whaling since December 24. The fleet seems to be running in circles, stopping and going in different directions.

The Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research has made an open accusation of piracy and eco-terrorism against the Greenpeace Foundation and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  If Japan adopts the false accusations that acts of piracy have been committed against their ships, they can use the accusations as an excuse under international law, to attack and seize the ships they accuse.

Per the United Nations Convention on the Sea:

Article 105 of the Law of the Sea states, in part:
Seizure of a pirate ship or aircraft
On the high seas, . . . every State may seize a pirate ship . . . The courts of the State which carried out the seizure may decide upon the penalties to be imposed . . .

Japan may present an argument that they have grounds to intervene.  Hiroshi Hatanaka, the Director General of the Institute of Cetacean Research, specifically cites Article 101 of the Law of the Sea.

Articles 101 and 103 of the Law of the Sea state, in part:
Articles 101 - Definition of piracy

Piracy consists of any of the following acts: (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:  (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship; . . .

Articles 103  - Definition of a pirate ship or aircraft
A ship or aircraft is considered a pirate ship or aircraft if it is intended by the persons in dominant control to be used for the purpose of committing one of the acts referred to in article 101. . . .

In effect, all the Japanese have to do is decide that Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd ships are in violation of Article 101 to intervene.  It gets complicated because Article 105 only permits seizures on the high seas and the Japanese fleet is actually operating not on the high seas but in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory.  However, Japan does not recognize this territory and may see a military intervention in Australia's seas as a test for challenging Australian sovereignty.

Captain Paul Watson once again calls upon Australia to send a naval vessel to the Australian Antarctic Territory to keep the peace and also to represent Australia's territorial interests in Antarctica.

The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat is presently in pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet in the waters off the Banzare Coast of Antarctica where the whalers are in violation of numerous international conservation laws and regulations.

For more information, pictures, or to interview Captain Watson:
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society                                                       
Contact:  Heather Callin
Phone:  360-370-5650
Email:  media@seashepherd.org