Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship damaged while chasing Japanese vessel
Though the Sea Shepherd conservation group is down a ship, a rogue wave did succeed in putting a spotlight on Japan’s annual whaling season and the activist effort to put an end to it.
It’s that time of year again: whaling season. And for the past 25 years, whaling season has been accompanied by anti-whaling season.Skip to next paragraph
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The latest? A boat – part of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group – was chasing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean when a large wave hit the “Brigitte Bardot,” disabling it. Anti-whaling activists: 0, rogue wave: 1
The ship is being towed to safety today after being stranded off the coast of Australia. Though the conservation group is down a ship, the rogue wave did succeed in putting a spotlight on Japan’s annual whaling season and the activist effort to put an end to it.
There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but each fall, Japan's whaling fleet sails south to the Antarctic and returns the following spring with whales killed on what it says is a scientific research program that catches and kills about 1,000 whales each year. The fleet left Japan earlier this month with plans to catch 900 whales, mostly the non-endangered minke whales.
Last year, Japan ended its annual whale hunt early and the official reason was because the actions of the Sea Shepherd put the Japanese crew’s safety at risk. Many analysts took it to be one of the strongest signs yet that direct action from groups like Sea Shepherd and weak consumption of whale meat in Japan are having an impact on whaling.
This year, Japanese whalers have asked a US federal court judge in Seattle to order the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stop disrupting its whaling activities in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, according to the AP.
"The violence and attacks from the Sea Shepherd have increased year by year," said spokesman of The Tokyo-based Institute of Cetacean Research Gavin Carter in Washington.
The Japanese companies had hoped to resolve the issue of maritime safety diplomatically, he said, but decided to sue since its last whaling season was cut short by interference from activists.
"The lawsuit is frivolous," Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd told the AP, pointing out that a US court didn't have jurisdiction over the matter. (Read Dan Murphy's Monitor piece on the aggressive tactics of Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson here)