Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Saved for another year

The Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean is reportedly going home early - and we can thank Sea Shepherd for it:

No immediate official confirmation was available from Japan. But the factory ship, Nisshin Maru, was today steaming towards Drake Passage, below South America, pursued by the Sea Shepherd group's vessel Bob Barker, having left its nominated whaling grounds 2000 nautical miles behind.


The whereabouts of the fleet's three harpoon ships is unknown, but they have been unable to kill whales without the Nisshin Maru to process the the mammals.

A smaller whaling fleet came under sustained Sea Shepherd pressure from the delayed outset of its season this year, sharply reducing its capacity to catch a quota of up to 935 minke whales and 50 fins.

The activists located the fleet as soon as it reached the Antarctic, kept two of the three Japanese harpoon ships engaged for weeks, fouled the propellers of one, delayed a fleet refuelling operation and then sent Nisshin Maru on the run.

Japan will have to report on how many whales they caught, and then we'll be able to see just how effective Sea Shepherd has been. But it looks like they've saved hundreds of whales from Japanese harpoons, and likely made the "scientific" whaling industry uneconomic in the process.