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Sea Shepherd Reportedly Attacked by Japanese Whalers

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On Monday, well-known anti-whaling and environmental conservation group Sea Shepherd claimed that Japanese whalers attacked its vessel and threatened the lives of its crew members currently campaigning in the Southern Ocean.

According to Sea Shepherd, two Japanese harpoon ships attempted to jam the propeller and rudder of the “Bob Barker” vessel by towing steel cables across its bow. When two small boats were launched with the intention of cutting the cables and protecting the Bob Barker, whalers on the “Yushin Maru” and “Yushin Maru 3” allegedly threw bamboo spears at the small boat crews. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident.

While these kinds altercations between Sea Shepherd and Japanese whalers are nothing new, Bob Barker captain Peter Hammarstedt had hoped that the Australian government would stand behind its earlier promise to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean. Australian environment minister Greg Hunt had promised to dispatch a government ship that would tail the warring groups during the whaling season and step in should the situation turn violent. However, when Captain Hammarstedt wrote to Hunt last week complaining of the lack of assistance during previous Japanese whaler attacks, Hunt did not reply.

Said Hammarstedt, “They knew this attack was imminent, and yet they did nothing. Hunt’s broken promises to monitor the whaling operations are evident in the broken bodies of the whales killed today.”

Japanese whalers claim to be murdering whales for “scientific research” despite a ban on commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, which has been in effect since 1994.

via The Guardian

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  • AnimuX

    Japan’s whalers have rammed ships, damaged hulls and props, thrown metal objects and explosives at unarmed protesters, and even destroyed a small carbon fiber boat with an 800 ton harpoon ship narrowly avoiding killing the activists still on board.

    What most people don’t understand is this conflict didn’t start with sea hippies throwing stink bombs at whalers on television. Japan has a long history of regulatory violations that goes back before anything like Sea Shepherd existed. Japan’s whalers have historically exceeded quotas, ignored size limits, hunted protected species, hunted out of season, hunted in off limits areas, and even hired foreign poachers to kill whales secretly and illegally smuggle the illicit catch back to Japan (pirate whaling).

    Today, Japan’s whale poaching is entirely funded by government spending. According to Jun Morikawa, author of ‘Whaling in Japan: Power, Politics, and Diplomacy’, the government continues to support whaling with tax funded subsidies for the benefit of corrupt officials who expect to later get high paid jobs in the commercial whaling industry. This type of corruption is so common in Japan’s government they have a word for it: ‘amakudari’. It’s a never-to-be-canceled government spending program.

    The International Whaling Commission enacted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 — Japan lost the vote for that moratorium a few years earlier in 1982. Instead of complying with the decision, the government of Japan cooked up a ‘research program’ to exploit a loophole intended for scientific study. Japan’s whalers now claim the slaughter is justified by ‘science’, despite the IWC repeatedly and specifically calling on Japan to stop killing whales.

    The government of Australia raised a legal case against Japan’s whaling with the International Court of Justice — arguments heard in 2013 — to establish that Japan is in breach of its obligations as a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Japan has so far refused to adhere to the democratic decisions of the IWC in good faith. The ICJ has not yet published a ruling on the case.

    Japan annually kills endangered fin whales, endangered sei whales, vulnerable sperm whales, rare Bryde’s whales, common minke whales (many from the threatened J-stock), and Antarctic minke whales. Not to mention up to 20,000 small cetaceans like dolphins, including rare beaked whales and a Dall’s porpoise slaughter called ‘clearly unsustainable’ by the IWC Scientific Committee.

    Also, whaling has nothing to do with Japanese food security. According to FOODEX Japan, in 2011 the nation imported over 500,000 tons of beef, at least 233,000 tons of chilled pork, more than 426,000 tons of chicken, and 2.69 million tons of marine products. The current estimated stockpile of whale meat in cold storage amounts to about 6,000 tons total – at the expense of over 17,897 whales killed by Japan under objection and special permit (as of 2011) since the moratorium on whaling began.

    Consumer demand for whale meat is pathetically low in Japan. In fact, in 2012 the government of Japan was unable to sell off 75% of the whale meat from the ‘research’ programs. In recent polling published by IFAW, 89% of respondents in Japan said they haven’t bought whale meat in the previous year. So much for ‘tradition’.

    As for the ‘research’, in 2002, in an open letter published in the New York Times, twenty-one scientists (including three Nobel laureates) stated emphatically, “We, the undersigned scientists, believe Japan’s whale research program fails to meet minimum standards for credible science.”

    In 2003, published in BioScience, IWC scientific committee members stated, “Japan’s scientific whaling program is so poor that it would not survive review by any major independent funding agency,” and when it comes to misrepresenting commercial activities as science, “there has rarely been a more egregious example of this misrepresentation than Japan’s scientific whaling program.” They also explained that the vast majority of publications resulting from these programs have absolutely no value for the management of whale stocks.

    In summary, Japan is literally killing internationally protected and endangered whales, during an international moratorium on the practice, within the boundaries of an international whale sanctuary, all while the International Whaling Commission repeatedly calls on Japan to stop killing whales. Rightfully, Sea Shepherd Australia continues to disrupt and thwart Japan’s whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. For the last few seasons, the whale poachers have returned to Japan with only a small fraction of their intended catch. Hopefully, Sea Shepherd will be just as successful this season.

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