Anti-whaling countries released a joint statement on Friday persuading both conservation groups and Japanese whalers to refrain from doing anything that could harm human life, as annual confrontations between the fishers and the organization Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean are expected to escalate. Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States said that they encourage the right to protest as long as it is done in a safe manner.
The anti-whaling nations also stated that they, “unreservedly condemn dangerous, reckless or unlawful behavior by all participants on either side, whether the Southern Ocean or elsewhere.” And that they are ready to “deal with unlawful activity in accordance with relevant international and domestic laws.” Conservation group Sea Shepherd has sent ships to the Antarctic waters on Wednesday to stop the Japanese whalers from their annual hunt, and they expect more aggressive and violent retaliation, as last year’s harassment strategies yielded low results for the hunt, with only 103 minke whales caught, less than half of the previous year’s catch, and no fin whales, with the whalers blaming the activist’s sabotage campaign.
While high-sea confrontations are common for the groups, with Sea Shepherd regularly sending stink bombs and attempting to destroy propellers and sending vessels between harpoons and whales, escalated and more violent tactics are seen as a possibility this year. Last year was the worst recorded confrontation between the group since 2010, when the Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gil sank, with the group claiming that a Japanese boat hit its vessels, leaving the Bob Barker with a destroyed mast, radar, and without power, while the Japanese whalers also claimed that it was their boat that was struck by the activists. Japan maintains that it conducts “scientific research” on whales, which is permitted under an international ban on whale hunting, but has publicly acknowledged that most of the whale meat ends up as food.
[via Channel News Asia]