Following yesterday’s encounter with Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, wherein environmental activist group Sea Shepherd saw damages made to their ships the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, its captain Paul Watson told Australian Associated Press (AAP) that they expect the Southern Ocean whale-hunting season to be cut short. “The ICR (Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research) has announced a temporary halt in their whaling operations, which over the last few years usually means they’re ending it for the season.”
According to Watson, the reason they tried to intervene was because the Japanese vessels were acting illegally when it attempted to refuel in an area below 60 degrees south, which is prohibited by an Antarctic treaty. No confirmation was made by an ICR spokesman whether the hunt will no longer continue, but he did confirm that refueling was suspended. Watson said the Korean tanker Sun Laurel will most probably refuel the Japanese whaling ships around 300 nautical miles further north. But, he believes that with 18 days left in the whaling season, it was less likely that the fleet would head south again. “I feel that this is the end of it,” he said.
Watson was also vehement in rejecting the Japanese suggestion that Sea Shepherd vessels provoked the dangerous confrontation yesterday. In any case, he called on the Australian government to send ships in the area to enforce the ruling of the International Court of Justice should it rule against whaling activities. In response, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard asked, through reporters in Adelaide, how they propose to obtain the power or authority to do so. She said Australia has no capacity to just go there and police Japanese whaling vessels at a snap of a finger.
[via The Australian]
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