Activist group Sea Shepherd says that is has located the key resupply ship for Japan’s whaling fleet, the Sun Laurel, and plans to prevent any of the nation’s vessels from refueling. The 5,700 ton tanker ship is said to have been found in the Southern Ocean, roughly 1,250 nautical miles south of Western Australia.
The Sea Shepherd vessel Sam Simon, the environmental extremists’ latest ship, which was actually purchased in secret from the Japanese government and then retrofitted to be used against the yearly whale hunts, reportedly found the Sun Laurel on Thursday and now the flagship Steve Irwin is rushing to catch up. Jeff Hansen, Sea Shepherd’s co-director for this year’s “Operation Zero Tolerance” campaign, has said that they will do all they can to block Japan’s whaling ships from accessing the tanker to refuel. By doing this, they will significantly “cripple” the fleet’s abilities.
Hanson issued a statement that it was “time for Japan to rein in its fleet and head back to Tokyo.” 2011 was the last time the activists located the Sun Laurel during Japan’s whale hunt. Sea Shepherd successfully blocked access to the tanker for weeks, until it eventually broke free and managed to refuel the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese processing factory ship. A lawyer for Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has threatened to cite Sea Shepherd for violating the recent injunction granted by the U.S. Ninth Circuit appeals court after one of their ships reportedly came within the restricted 500 yards of one of the Nisshin Maru’s harpoon vessels.
The last week has seen the Australian government order one of Japan’s whaling ships to leave their exclusive economic waters as they tried to flee Sea Shepherd’s pursuit, as well as the activist group claim early success this year by preventing the death of any whales and this point as they locate and impede Japan’s fleet.[via WA Today]