Monday, January 22, 2007

Sea Shepherd versus Japanese Whalers - the Battle Turns Ugly

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is resolutely determined to disrupt whaling around the world. Under the direction of Paul Watson, the group's ships are said to have sunk at least 10-whalers.

Sea Shepherd recently acquired a surplus US Coast Guard vessel, now renamed the MV Robert Hunter which, together with the society's other ship, the Farley Mowat, has now been sent to the Antarctic to intercept a Japanese whaling mission heading there.

Japan is certainly fighting back and with some success. It seems that the Japanese were able to induce Ottawa to "deflag" the Farley Mowat which means it no longer sails as a Canadian-registered vessel. That coup has allowed the Japanese to claim that the Mowat is a pirate ship:

"Japan Whaling Association President Keiichi Nakajima said, "Sea Shepherd is officially running a pirate vessel."

"International law says any non-flagged vessel can be boarded for inspection, and in case of any violation or piracy, has to be detained with its crew arrested. If Paul Watson continues with his violent campaign using this vessel, then he'll be risking everything," said Mr Nakajima, who called on the Government of Japan to ensure everything possible was done to secure the safety of Japanese researchers and crew by boarding the Farley Mowat on the high seas and seizing the ship and arresting the crew as pirates.

"Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd's founder and president, dismissed Nakajima's threats saying that the crew of the Farley Mowat is quite prepared to defend the ship against Japanese violence. As for risking everything he said, "We are quite prepared to risk our lives and this ship for the whales."

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