Following Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson’s declaration that Japan will likely stop hunting for the remainder of the season after a clash between the two sides saw a temporary suspension in refueling, Japan made assurances that it will continue its whale hunt in the Southern Ocean. An official at Japan’s Fisheries Agency told Agence France-Presse, “We are keeping our whaling program,” and denied that the collision with Sea Shepherd vessels permanently suspended the hunt for this season.
The official repeated the government’s position that it was Sea Shepherd that rammed the Japanese whaling ship, Nisshin Maru, yesterday, marking the worst confrontation between the two in the Southern Ocean in three years. Watson, on the other hand, described how their ships were derided by the Japanese fleet as actions comparable to “a case of road rage.” Meanwhile, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, through a spokesman, said that the ship could not be refueled “due to Sea Shepherd’s dangerous activities.”
Tony Burke, Australian Environment Minister, describes Japan’s whale hunt as cruel and unnecessary, and yet, the Australian government has remained deaf to calls for a government vessel to monitor the hunt. For its part, Japan says it conducts scientific research, by taking advantage of the loophole in an international ban on whaling agreed at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but it doesn’t hide that the mammals ultimately end up as food. However, several years ago Sea Shepherd claimed Japan’s whaling fleet hit and sank one of their ships, the Ady Gil, but the accounts of that incident have been repeatedly questioned, with more than a few claims that it was the activists who intentionally hit a Japanese vessel, and then scuttled the remains themselves.
It may be some time before it becomes clear what actually took place between the two sides this week. Two videos have been released that at least cast doubt on Sea Shepherd’s account of what took place, showing their ships intentionally steering into the path of Japan’s vessels. While they are in Japanese, you can still clearly see the video footage that shows the two sides coming dangerously close to each other, with one even filmed from the deck of one of the Japanese ships.[via The West]