Heavy Ice Conditions Hinder Sea Shepherd Pursuit of Whalers
Snowstorms, fog and heavy ice conditions are hindering the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin from following the Japanese whaling fleet. The Sea shepherd helicopter, called the Kookaburra, is unable to fly in dense fog or the frequent snowstorm conditions to locate the Japanese ships.
Photo: The M/V Steve Irwin navigates between two large tabletop icebergs in Antarctica. Photo by Eric Cheng / Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
"The Japanese whaling fleet fled after contact with the Steve Irwin on December 20th," said Captain Paul Watson on the group's website. "We caught them in Australian Antarctic Territorial waters. We followed them for three days for three hundred miles until heavy ice blocked our progress. Once we navigate our way out of these conditions we will continue our search."
The Sea Shepherd have fuel and provisions to enable it to search and harass the whalers for at least a month.
Meanwhile in the loungerooms of North America cable channel viewers have been watching the Whale Wars documentary series on the Animal Planet channel, pushing the show to scoring the best performance of any series in the network's history among Adults 25-54 (529,000 viewers) and Men 25-54 (309,000 viewers). The season finale captured more than 1 million viewers and resulted in Animal Planet tieing for ninth place among all ad supported cable networks in the 9 PM hour among both Adults 25-54 and Men 25-54 categories.
The Australian Government is still pursuing diplomatic pressure on Japan to cease whaling in the southern Ocean, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Skynews on 19th December. "We've made it clear to the Japanese that we want to resolve this through diplomatic measures, both bilateral measures whether it's through the representations I make, whether it's through the representations our special envoy Sandy Holway makes, or whether it's through the multilateral discussions that I had in the International Whaling Commission." he said. "But we've also indicated that if we don't believe we can solve the thing through diplomatic measures then legal action remains a possibility, and that legal action either through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or the International Court of Justice is there as a possibility which we continue to hold open as one of our options."
Many people, including the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, are critical of the one year old Federal Labor Government of Australia for not taking a harder stance with Japan over whaling and initiating international legal action.
Greenpeace decided not to send a vessel to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this year to campaign against commercial whaling by the Japanese whaling fleet done under the guise of the scientific research provisions of the International Whaling Commission.