As their US arm continues to be mired in legal battles with Japan in the US courts, militant conservation group Sea Shepherd has to turn to donations outside the country in order to reach the 4 million dollars needed to fund their activities. The money is primarily needed for their campaign against Japan's whaling fleet next year.
The whaling season in the north-eastern coastal waters of Japan has officially begun as four whaling ships left Ayukawa port in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. This season, they are aiming to catch 60 minke whales for research purposes, as is their loophole to be able to continue with the practice and "tradition" of hunting whales, despite the international community's protests.
New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed that they are joining the case against Japan's whaling practices at the International Court of Justice. Australia brought the case to the ICJ in May 2010, but public hearings are about to start this June at The Hague in Netherlands.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court, has announced that it will proceed with public hearings regarding Australia’s case against Japan’s annual whaling hunt in Antarctic waters. The case was brought before UN’s highest judicial organ in May 2010, as Australia questioned Japan’s continuing large-scale whaling program where it claims that the Asian nation is in breach of international conventions.
The Institute of Cetacean Research, the managing government agency for Japanese whaling activities, has criticized the Australian government for tolerating the activities of hardline conservationists that have interfered with and caused damage to its whaling fleet. They cited the federal government being a safe harbor for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the number one enemy of the annual whale hunt initiated by the Japanese government for "research" purposes.
According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry of Japan, this year was a record low for the whaling fleet, with only 103 Antarctic minke whales and no fin whales caught for its "research whaling" program. Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi blames the "unforgivable sabotage" by activists, particularly by the militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Despite repeated refusals by the Australian federal government, Japan continues to state that it would be open to Australia sending a customs or navy vessel to the Southern Ocean to monitor the annual whale hunt. Tetsuro Amano, Japan's deputy head of mission to Australia, says the country would welcome such a vessel as it would witness first-hand the conduct of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.
Environmental extremist group Sea Shepherd is now trying to have criminal charges filed against Japanese whalers in the Netherlands. As two of the group's ships sail under Dutch flags, they the country's authorities to prosecute the Japanese for acts of piracy for intentionally ramming their ships during their recent scuffle in the Southern Ocean.
The fleet and crew of the extremist anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd arrived in Australia on Wednesday, claiming victory in this year's campaign against Japan's whalers, and calling for free passage for founder Paul Watson. Three of their four ships, the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Sam Simon docked with an estimated $1.03 million in damages, while the fourth ship, the Brigitte Bardot, remains at an undisclosed location with Watson believed to be aboard, as he is still wanted by Interpol.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson can cross Germany off his "Cannot visit" list. According to him, the country has canceled the warrant for his arrest, because the Costa Rican government failed to meet the deadline for an explanation asked by the government.