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Whale Wars Rage as Japanese Whalers Kill and Spill in Antarctic Waters


February 21, 2013
Common Dreams & Sea Shepherd & Agence France-Presse

The fight to protect endangered whales in the Antarctic reached a boiling point over the weekend when high-seas activists from the group Sea Shepherd were bombarded by Japanese whalers as they tried to thwart the fleet from hauling in a dead whale. Sea Shepherd has accused Japanese whalers of killing protected whales in violation of international law and of spilling oil into protected Antarctic waters.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/18-0

Operation Zero Tolerance:
Press Conference, Hobart Australia, Tuesday January 8 2013




Sea Shepherd Continues High Seas Standoff After Whalers Attack
Jacob Chamberlain / Common Dreams

ANTARCTICA (February 18, 2013) -- The fight to protect endangered whales in the Antarctic reached a boiling point over the weekend when high-seas activists from the group Sea Shepherd were bombarded by Japanese whalers as they tried to thwart the fleet from hauling in a dead whale.

"We blocked it for nine attempts but then their harpoon ship attempted to try and come across and hit us so we ducked away and that's when they were able to make the transfer of that whale," Sea Shepherd Australia's Jeff Hansen said.

As the whalers are illegally operating in Australian waters, the group urged Australian authorities to intervene -- but to no avail.

"The Japanese whalers are slaughtering protected, threatened, and endangered species of whales within this sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling," founder and president of Sea Shepherd Paul Watson writes at the Guardian today. "They are also in contempt of an Australian federal court ruling from 2008 that specifically forbade them from killing whales in the waters of the Australian Antarctic territory."

"Is this Australian territory or not? If it is, then come down and exert some kind of authority," Hansen said.

Since the confrontation, Sea Shepherd boats have successfully blockaded further catches and resume their showdown with the Japanese whaling fleet. The group also maintains that the whaling fleet has been spilling oil into the pristine waters.

Watson adds:
Three days ago the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #2 killed a minke whale within the Australian Antarctic Territory, only 50 miles from the Australian Davis Research base on the Antarctic coast.

This is the first time since 2009 that they have killed a whale in front of us and they did so deliberately to test our resolve. [...]

The Sea Shepherd crews are committed to blocking the illegal whaling operations, and it appears the whalers are under orders to kill as many whales as possible. This is gearing up for a major showdown, and the challenge for the Sea Shepherd volunteers is to save as many whales as possible while ensuring that no one is injured by an increasingly hostile and aggressive crew of whalers, made all the more dangerous by the extreme remoteness and intense weather and sea conditions.


The group, who have now campaigned against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic for nine years, originally set out this year with Operation Zero Tolerance to "send the whalers home without them killing a single whale." They will now forge on to prevent as many whale deaths as possible -- hoping to drive the industry into financial collapse.



Activists Confront Japanese over Whale Kill
France24 & Agence France-Presse

(February 18, 2013) -- Militant environmentalists Monday accused Japanese whalers of attempting to crash into their ship as they tried to prevent harpoonists from hauling a slaughtered whale on board.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is chasing the Japanese fleet hunting whales off Antarctica, said the confrontation occurred after its Bob Barker vessel attempted to block the transfer of a dead whale.

"We blocked it for nine attempts but then their harpoon ship attempted to try and come across and hit us so we ducked away and that's when they were able to make the transfer of that whale," Sea Shepherd Australia's Jeff Hansen said.

Hansen said the confrontation, which he said took place "well and truly" inside Australian Antarctic waters, lasted several hours as he called on Canberra to intervene.

"Is this Australian territory or not? If it is, then come down and exert some kind of authority," Hansen said.

"In the past there were Patagonian toothfish operators down there, illegal poachers from Uruguay, the Customs vessel chased them all over the Southern Ocean, arrested them and confiscated their vessel."

Sea Shepherd also said the Japanese fleet's fuel tanker, the Sun Laurel, had been followed by the activists' SSS Sam Simon and had spilled oil into the pristine waters.

"The crew smelled diesel fuel, they stopped and collected samples; it was diesel on the water," Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson told Sky News.

"The rules say that you can't drop any amount of fuel into the Antarctic territory. And you are especially not allowed to drop fuel that is a cargo fuel and this is a cargo fuel that they are dropping."

Environment Minister Tony Burke has described Japan's whale hunt as cruel and unnecessary but on the weekend said the government would not send a boat to "watch and do nothing".

"We condemn the activity Japan is involved with and while it is worse within a whale sanctuary that doesn't mean it is acceptable anywhere," he said on Saturday.

"It doesn't matter where it occurs, whaling is not necessary, it is cruel and it has nothing to do with science."

Australia is strongly opposed to whaling and launched legal action challenging the basis of Japan's so-called "scientific" hunt in December 2010.

Earlier this month Canberra lodged a protest with Tokyo after part of the Japanese whaling fleet entered Australia's exclusive economic zone in the Southern Ocean near Macquarie Island.

Japan claims it conducts vital scientific research using a loophole in an international ban on whaling, but makes no secret of the fact that the animals ultimately end up on dinner plates.


Japanese Whaling Fleet Oil Tanker Spill Confirmed
Sea Shepherd.org

Listen to audio of radio transmission between Captain and Bosun of the Sun Laurel: February 17, 2013 - Intercepted radio transmission confirms Japanese whaling fleet oil tanker spill



(February 17, 2013) -- In the early hours of the 17th of February, while the SSS Sam Simon was tailing the South Korean owned Sun Laurel, fuel bunker ship to the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sam Simon crew noticed the smell of diesel fumes coming from the wake of the Sun Laurel, over one mile ahead.

Captain Luis Pinho radioed the Sun Laurel at 3:00 am AEDT, approximately 15 minutes after the Sun Laurel entered Australian Antarctic Territory, informing them that they smelled diesel fumes, could see fuel slicks in the wake of the Sun Laurel, had collected water samples, and would be reporting the Sun Laurel to the authorities.

On the 17th of February at approximately 4:00 pm AEDT the Sam Simon recorded an audio transmission between the Captain and Bosun of the Sun Laurel - the Japanese whaling fleet's refuelling vessel. In this recording, the Captain of the Sun Laurel refers to the oil spill that the Sam Simon had documented and collected samples of hours earlier.

The Sun Laurel Captain informed his Bosun to take care covering refuelling hoses, and that if oil dropped into the water there would be a "big problem", as the Sam Simon had caught the Sun Laurel leaking fuel into the wake behind them earlier that morning.

Sea Shepherd Australia believes this transmission is further proof of an oil spill by the Sun Laurel in Antarctica's pristine waters, and has reported the incident to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

The Sun Laurel is in direct violation of international law. Marpol Regulation 15 Subpart B, Discharge in Special Areas Point 4 states: "In respect of the Antarctic area, any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship shall be prohibited."

In addition, The Sun Laurel has failed to issue a statement on their spill to AMSA, which puts them in breach of MARPOL'S Pollution Incident Reporting Regulations. Marpol 73/78 is the International Maritime Organisation's Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, to which all sea-going vessels are bound.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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