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Sea Shepherd Returns From the Whale Wars
On board the Steve Irwin in the Ross Sea --February 9th, 2009, 10:00
The Sea Shepherd ship the Steve Irwin and her crew have withdrawn from
the Japanese whaling fleet to begin preparations to return with a faster
and longer range ship.
"I have said always said that we would do everything we can short of
hurting people to end illegal whaling in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary,"
said Captain Paul Watson. "We have done everything we could with the
resources available to us this year. We have shut down their illegal
operations for over a month in total. We have cost them money and we
have saved the lives of a good many whales. And although we are willing
to take the risks required, even to our own lives, I am not prepared to
do to the Japanese whalers what they do to the whales and the escalating
violence by the whalers will result in some serious injuries and
possibly fatalities if this confrontation continues to escalate."
Captain Watson said that he has been operating at a disadvantage against
three harpoon boats that are superior in speed and maneuverability to
the Steve Irwin.
"We need to block those deadly harpoons and we need to outrun these
hunter killer ships and to do that I need a ship that is as fast as they
are and I intend to get one and I intend to return next year," he said.
"We will never stop intervening against their illegal whaling operations
and we will never stop harassing them, blockading them and costing them
money. I intend to be their on-going nightmare every year until they
stop their horrific and unlawful slaughter of the great whales in the
Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
This year the crew of the Steve Irwin pursued the Japanese fleet from
December 18th until January 7th for over 2,000 miles, shutting down
their operations for a month. The crew returned and relocated the fleet
on February 1st and pursued them for another 9 days during which time
the whalers were only able to kill five whales. A pursuit of the Yushin
Maru No.2 by the Steve Irwin on December 20th caused ice damage to the
prop of the whaling ship and forced them out of operation for a month
and a half. The harpoon vessel was denied repairs in Indonesia much to
the embarrassment of Japan.
Confrontations between the Steve Irwin and the whaling fleet have
resulted in numerous close calls and two collisions causing minor
damage. The whaling fleet this year deployed Long Range Acoustical
Devices (LRAD's) and high powered water cannons against the Sea Shepherd
crew. No whalers were injured. Three members of the Steve Irwin's crew
were injured with one man requiring five stitches above his left eye
after being hit by a blast from the LRAD and knocked over. Captain Paul
Watson is dismissive of Japanese accusations that Sea Shepherd
deliberately rammed their whaling ships.
"The whalers and their hired PR flunkies can say whatever they want now
but we have over 1,000 hours of video footage documenting every moment
of the campaign. Our story will be told on a weekly series on Animal
Planet with the show Whale Wars. People can watch and judge for
themselves. The camera is the most powerful weapon in the world and we
intend to demonstrate that power."
On January 31st, the Japanese government dispatched a security vessel
called the Taiyo Maru No.38 from Fiji to intercept the Steve Irwin. The
ship is believed to be carrying a special boarding unit and has orders
to seize the ship and all video evidence, according to a source in Fiji.
The ship is expected to arrive in the Ross Sea within days.
"We cannot allow this documentation to be captured by Japan," said
The Steve Irwin will be returning to Australia and is expected to arrive
within the next two weeks. The ship had only another four days of fuel
reserves to remain with the fleet before being forced to return anyway.
"Another four days is simply not worth getting someone killed," said
Captain Watson. "We are down here because we respect the sanctity of
life. The whalers are down here to illegally destroy life. People can
choose to side with life or with death, between the whalers and the
whale defenders, and we have chosen to defend life, and for those who
condemn us for what we are doing, all I can say is that we are not down
here for them. We're down here for the whales."
About Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an
International non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to
end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's
oceans in order to conserve and protects ecosystems and species. Sea
Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document,
and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities
on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our
delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their
survival for future generations. Founder and President Captain Paul
Watson, is a renowned, respected leader in environmental issues. Visit
http://www.seashepherd.org for more information.