The Great Southern Ocean Whaling Ship Chase - Day Thirteen
The Chase Continues
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin
West then East then West then East we go,
The Steve Irwin is fast, the Nisshin Maru is slow,
Five Hundred whales remain uncaught,
Worth all the weather and whalers we have fought.
- Sea Shepherd thoughts.
As the Steve Irwin sticks like crazy glue to the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru the two vessels are now back where they both started five days ago.
What is the Japanese whaling fleet doing?
First they run at full speed 750 nautical miles to the west and then turn around and run full speed back to the place they started running. In that time they have used over 100 tons of fuel at a cost approaching $100,000. And they have not killed a single whale.
The harpoon vessels are doing nothing but waiting for the return of their mother ship. The whaling season is coming to a close and a very large storm is approaching from the west, large enough to prevent the whalers from hunting for days.
The much faster Steve Irwin has been running circles around the Nisshin Maru for over 1500 miles.
The International Whaling Commission will be meeting in London tomorrow and our disruption of Japanese whaling activities will be on the agenda in the closed door sessions.
The whalers are threatening to sue Sea Shepherd for their financial losses although it is not clear just as to what jurisdiction they intend to pursue their desperate claim.
Although Japan has condemned Sea Shepherd's interference they have not issued any charges and no actual crime has been committed. No injuries and no physical damages other than to their pride. They have no criminal or civil case, because the fact of the matter is that the Japanese whaling fleet is nothing more than poachers. The entire operation is organized high seas crime backed up by corrupt government officials in Japan in collusion with the notorious Yakuza - the Japanese gangsters who control the Union that provides the crew to the whaling fleet.
They do have financial damages in the tens of millions of dollars in having gotten less than their targeted quota.
One more day will mark two solid weeks that we have stopped their whaling activities since returning to the Southern Ocean. Added to the three weeks in January that we halted their operations we will have an unprecedented five weeks of total disruption of all illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
All in all, Operation Migaloo is turning out to be our most successful campaign against illegal Japanese whaling ever.
Never before have we or anyone else been able to pursue these poachers from the beginning of the whaling season until the end. We departed from Melbourne on December 5th and we are now in our third month on the high seas enduring increasingly hostile weather and high seas.
As I type this report the ship is bucking and heaving, rolling and lurching - it is not pleasant. But the increasing ferocity of the weather will be our ally in preventing any further killings of the great whales. They can't kill whales with us here and they can't kill whales in these foul seas.
We have had the Nisshin Maru in our sights for five days. Few of the whaling crew venture out onto the decks - the odor of the rotten butter extract we splashed over their deck lingers, and the stench is so bad that after a few minutes it will cause even the most hardened of sailors to retch and chunder.
It has been a difficult voyage, with a new set of trials and challenges for me and my team. Sea Shepherd is growing and has an expanding agenda of issues to address, including dealing with logistics and strategies and at the same time over-seeing campaigns in different areas of the world to protect sharks, seals and to oppose illegal fishing. It all means good things for our efforts to defend ocean wildlife- we are being effective.
I only have to look across a few hundred meters of water to see the most ruthless and merciless ship on the ocean - the worlds largest and most destructive whale killing machine afloat- and see that evil ship fleeing with its crew of cowards from our smaller ship of volunteers and it makes me feel absolutely wonderful.
Every moment that the Nisshin Maru runs from us is buying time for the whales to live. To have stopped this death machine for five solid weeks has made me very happy indeed and I know that we will be able to return to port after a very successful mission and it will be a campaign that everyone who has participated in or supported us will be proud of.