Environmentalist group Sea Shepherd yesterday pulled the plug on its annual campaign to disrupt Japanese whaling, saying it can no longer match the country’s military and economic power.
The organization has waged an often violent 12-year high-seas battle against whaling in the Southern Ocean, claiming success for saving thousands of the giant mammals and bringing the slaughter to world attention.
However, the group’s founder Paul Watson said his ships — which usually leave from Australia — would not sail this year, with different strategies and tactics needed to hinder the hunt.
“What we discovered is that Japan is now employing military surveillance to watch Sea Shepherd ship movements in real-time by satellite and if they know where our ships are at any given moment, they can easily avoid us,” he said in a statement. “We cannot compete with their military-grade technology.”
He claimed that for the first time this year, Tokyo also planned to deploy its armed forces to defend the whalers, making it increasingly difficult to compete with a cashed-up “major economic superpower.”
“The decision we have had to face is — do we spend our limited resources on another campaign to the Southern Ocean that will have little chance of a successful intervention or do we regroup with different strategies and tactics?” he said.
“If something is not working the only recourse is to look for a better plan, because when a plan no longer works, the only alternative is an improved course of action. We need to formulate this new plan and we will,” he said.
He hit out at the US, Australia and New Zealand for not doing enough to help, singling out Canberra for “obstructing Sea Shepherd’s ability to raise funds by denying our charitable status.”
Japan has previously sought to close down the anti-whaling campaigns in court, saying Sea Shepherd activists rammed their ships, snared propellers with ropes and harassed crew with paint and stink bombs.
The conservationists in turn complained that the whalers had thrown stun grenades at them and tried to sabotage their boats.
A Japanese Fisheries Agency official said the department was aware of Sea Shepherd’s announcement.
“But, at this stage, we don’t know if they will really stop their campaign,” he told reporters. “There are also other anti-whaling groups so we may be disrupted by them. We’ll continue to carefully monitor the situation.”
Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission’s moratorium on whaling in force since 1986. However, it exploits a provision allowing whales to be killed for the purposes of scientific research, making no secret of the fact that they end up on dinner plates.
Tokyo was forced to call off the 2014-2015 whale hunt after the International Court of Justice ruled that its annual Antarctic foray was a commercial hunt that was only masquerading as science.
It resumed in late 2015 with cuts to the target catch number, but it still returned with more than 300 minke whales.
Japan has hunted whales for centuries and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor.
However, consumption has dramatically declined in recent decades, with significant proportions of the population saying they “never” or “rarely” eat whale meat.
Despite calling off their campaign to disrupt the hunt, Watson said it was satisfying that Japan had been “exposed and humiliated” by Sea Shepherd.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year