The anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd announced on Wednesday that it was claiming an early success by locating Japan’s fleet before a single whale has been killed in their Southern Ocean hunt. The extreme environmentalist group hasn’t engaged the Japanese ships in any way at this point, but they say they are now tailing the Yushin Maru No. 3, one of the fleet’s harpoon ships, at a northern latitude.
Sea Shepherd has dubbed their activities this year “Operation Zero Tolerance,” along with setting a goal of preventing the death of even a single mammal. The Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker was also said to be pursuing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru by a distance of roughly 650 kilometers (400 miles). The activists say the whaling fleet has been scattered and is being chased. Jeff Hansen, the co-director of Sea Shepherd’s campaign this year, says that they have been guarding the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and have prevented the whaling fleet from getting through. He added that they have visual confirmation that the Yushin Maru 3′s harpoon mount is still covered and hasn’t been loaded, meaning they haven’t had an opportunity to fire it yet.
With Thursday being the last day of January, the traditionally peak harpooning month, the activists expect it to be the first time the month passes without a single whaling death. Bob Brown, the other campaign co-director who took over for Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson several weeks ago, said “the first 24 hours of contact with the whale poachers have been a victory for Sea Shepherd and a complete loss for the Japanese whaling fleet.” The group is still bound by a U.S. court ruling that orders them to remain at least 500 meters away from the Japanese ships and prohibits any manner of navigating that would put lives in danger. With a current goal of keeping the whale hunters divided and on the run, Sea Shepherd says it has enough fuel for their ships to remain in the Southern Ocean until March, when the whaling season ends.
[via The West]