Japanese Whalers Make Demands for Return of Hostages

The Institute of Cetacean Research, the front group for the illegal Japanese whaling operations are making demands for the release of the two Sea Shepherd crew being held hostage onboard the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2.

The whalers said they will return the hostages in return for Sea Shepherd agreeing to no longer interfere with their whaling operations.

"The Institute of Cetacean Research is acting like a terrorist organization," said Steve Irwin's 1st Officer Peter Brown. "Here they are taking hostages and making demands. Our policy is that we don't respond to terrorist demands."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has heard reports from the media that Japan has agreed to release the hostages but the Steve Irwin has not heard anything official from either the Australian or Japanese governments.

"The activities of the Japanese whaling fleet are illegal under international conservation law. The Japanese are poachers and should be treated in the same manner as elephant or tiger poachers," said Captain Paul Watson.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will not negotiate with poachers and demands that the Japanese whalers release Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane as soon as possible.

The location of the Yushin Maru No. 2 with the hostages onboard is not known presently. The vessel is no longer in sight or within radar range of the Steve Irwin.