The Institute of Cetacean Research, the government group that operates Japan’s widely criticized research whaling, suffered a nearly crippling financial blow last year when its annual hunt in the Antarctic Ocean was disrupted by an environmental group, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday. It said the institute suffered a loss of $20.5 million, requiring additional financing from the government. The newspaper said the group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, limited the whaling fleet’s catch to 172 whales, or one-third of its take the year before. The institute relies on the sale of whale meat to finance a large part of its operations, experts say. ...read original article
Early this morning the Japanese harpoon ship Yushin Maru III was holding fast in Australia’s World Heritage Area and territorial waters off Macquarie Island. This is despite a call from Australia to have the ship exit our territory.....read full article
Anti-whaling activists have interrupted the Japanese Antarctic hunt for the first time this season, Japan's fisheries agency said Thursday.
Two small boats from the US-based environmental group Sea Shepherd interfered with the movement of the harpoon ship Yushin Maru 3 for five and a half hours in the Antarctic Ocean on Wednesday, the agency said.
The boats, lowered from the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker, cut across the Yushin Maru's path trailing ropes and wires, an official at the governmental agency's international affairs division said.
"In response, the Yushin Maru 3 discharged water and gave out verbal warnings to the boats," he said, adding the whaler was not actively hunting at the time. .....more
The Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group says the government is threatening to charge them about $200,000 in taxes if they don't take their ships to another country before returning to Australia to refuel.
Speaking in the Southern Ocean, where he is looking for Japanese whalers, Sea Shepherd activist Paul Watson lashed out at the Australian government.
"Their latest thing is that we can't come back to Australia to refuel unless we go to another country first, which means we would have to go one week out of our way to get to New Zealand and come back," Mr Watson said. .....more
Whale hunting season kicked off in Japan last week as three ships set off with a security vessel on their annual pilgrimage to cull hundreds of minke and fin whales in Antarctic waters. And so begins the annual showdown between the whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the tenacious, publicity-savvy anti-whaling group that chases the Japanese fleet around the frigid waters of the sixth continent each winter. The yearly spectacle features scuba-clad activists zipping around in fast boats, lobbing stink bombs at the whaling ships and generally making life miserable for the crew who keep Japan’s 19th-century dream alive. The annual tussle even has its own reality show. .....more
December 10, 2011 -- Sydney Morning Herald - Australia
The March earthquake has had the odd effect of boosting Japan's pro-whaling lobby, writes Andrew Darby.
Just down the road from the tranquillity of Tokyo's Imperial Palace, in the vast beehive of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, sit a studious group assembled in Special Conference Room 2.
The dark suits of government were matched by those of senior academics. Counterpointing the dozen serious men was one woman, her hair streaked a jaunty red. .....more
December 9, 2011 -- Sydney Morning Herald - Australia
Japanese whalers have filed a lawsuit in the United States in a bid to prevent "acts of violence" by Sea Shepherd activists during this year's hunt.
In a statement, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), and Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, which operates the whaling vessels, said they had filed the lawsuit to establish legal protection of their ships and crews.
"Sea Shepherd has made numerous attempts to foul ships' propellers with ropes, potentially placing the crews and vessels in extreme danger," the statement read. .....more
December 8, 2011 -- The Wall Street Journal - United States
As has become almost routine in recent years, Japan’s annual whale hunt that began this week has kicked off to swirling controversy.
But this year, onlookers are not only taking issue with the whaling expedition itself, but how extra government funding for the trip is being drawn from money intended to be used for reconstruction efforts from the March 11 disasters. The funds are from Japan’s own national budget, not charitable donations from overseas.
The Fisheries Agency said it is channeling an additional Y2.28 billion, about $30 million, to support this year’s whale hunting mission, a chunk of which is earmarked to bolster the fleet’s defense against aggressive confrontations with the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. .....more
Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd is preparing for a three month voyage to the Southern Ocean and is expecting one of its most intense campaigns yet against Japanese whalers.
Three Sea Shepherd vessels – the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker and the Brigitte Bardot – with a total of 88 crew members will head into Antarctic waters in December for what they call 'Operation Divine Wind' (or Kamikaze) with the objective of stopping Japanese whaling activities.
It's Sea Shepherd's eighth voyage to the Southern Ocean. The organisation claims that its harassment tactics last season forced the Japanese whaling fleet to cut short its hunting trip with a fraction of its usual catch. .....more
Trying to save the world can be a confrontational business. Paul Watson, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, believes Greenpeace, where he started out as an activist in the 1970s, isn’t doing enough to protect whales in Antarctica.
The 60-year-old Canadian says the more political tactics of Greenpeace don’t get results.
‘This behind the scenes crap is not something that Greenpeace was involved in. I think they’re just too cowardly to go back to be perfectly blunt about it,’ he says. .....more
November 3, 2011 -- Sydney Morning Herald - Australia
With bunk beds in cramped rooms, stickers with slogans such as "Woodchipping Sucks" plastering the walls and the smell of samosas filling the air, this could easily be a backpacker's hostel.
But life aboard the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's anti-whaling ship Bob Barker is no holiday.
The Bob Barker, named after an American game show host who donated money to buy the ship, is docked in Sydney's White Bay and will soon make the voyage into the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean for a three-month campaign. .....more
Former screen siren Brigitte Bardot has joined forces with militant environmentalists to call on Japan to halt its "campaign of death" in the annual Antarctic whale hunt.
In a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the sixties sex kitten said it was "indecent" for the Japanese government to be spending an additional $27 million on beefed-up security for this year's hunt.
"Whales are endangered and each animal killed is a crime against biodiversity," said the French actress, who heads the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. .....more
As the Steve Irwin approached the equator last week, word that Japan would be sending a strengthened whaling fleet to Antarctica next month reached the bridge of the old Aberdeen-built customs vessel. The crew of activists on board cheered, as their veteran leader, Captain Paul Watson, resigned himself to his eighth "whale war" among the icebergs and 100mph winds of the Southern ocean.
Watson, on what is nearly his 350th voyage in nearly 40 years defending whales and other marine wildlife at the helm of Sea ShepherdConservation Society, is sending three ships to intercept, chase and harass the Japanese. He promises "aggressive non-violence", while the Japanese, still smarting from last year's humiliation when their fleet took only a fifth of its planned whale catch, say they will heighten security and take an armed government fisheries patrol vessel. .....more