Three vessels from the controversial conservation group Sea Shepherd left Australia today for the Southern Ocean to continue their annual campaign, already on its tenth year, against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. Formerly a Norwegian whaling ship, the Bob Barker departed from Hobart to harass and deter the Japanese harpoon ships that departed for the southern hemisphere two weeks ago.
“The Japanese whaling fleet intends to kill 1,035 whales of which 50 are endangered fin whales and 50 are endangered humpback whales, the very same whales that frequent the shores here off Australia,” said captain Peter Hammarstedt of the Bob Barker. This would be his 9th campaign against the whalers, and he said that, ‘our intention is to once again intercept Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and to do everything we can, “ which sometimes include violent high-seas clashes between the conservationists and the whalers. The Steve Irwin and Sam Simon, two other vessels of Sea Shepherd Australia, already left Melbourne on Wednesday and are now on their way to the southern hemisphere.
Australia, which gave up whaling 35 years ago and has openly opposed Japan on its whaling activities, is bound to announce this week that a Customs ship will monitor the hunt, and a spokesperson for Environment Minister Greg Hunt replied in an email that, “the government’s commitment to monitoring in the Southern Ocean remains undiminished.” However, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said that the Customs vessel supposedly on its way to the Antarctic was nowhere near the ocean and instead was being used for a border protection mission on the north of Australia. The matter of prohibiting Japanese whale hunting during the southern hemisphere summer has been escalated by Australia to the UN’s International Court of Justice and is still awaiting decision in early 2014.
[via News AU]