ANTI-WHALING activist group Sea Shepherd has announced it will permanently abandon its annual badgering of Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, citing Japan’s use of “military grade technology.”
In a blog post on Sunday, Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson wrote Japan had passed new anti-terrorism laws specifically designed to condemn Sea Shepherd’s tactics, and that the country had threatened to send their military to defend its “illegal whaling activities.”
“The Japanese whalers not only have all the resources and subsidies their government can provide, they also have the powerful political backing of a major economic superpower,” he said, adding the governments of Australia, New Zealand and United States were “hostile” towards Sea Shepherd.
Since 2005, Sea Shepherd’s ships have met Japan’s whaling vessels in the freezing Antarctic waters in an effort to physically prevent them from killing whales. The group claims its actions during the 2012/13 season meant Japanese whalers returned home with only 10 percent of their intended kills.
Japan continues to defy international protests to carry out what it calls scientific research whaling, having repeatedly said its ultimate goal is to whale commercially again. It passed a law in June to enshrine “national responsibility” for “scientific” whale hunting.
“The results speak for themselves. Over 6,000 whales saved. Not a single endangered Humpback killed and only 10 endangered Fin whales killed in a decade where 500 were slated to die,” wrote Watson on Sunday.
“In addition, the Japanese whalers lost tens of millions of dollars. We exposed Japan’s illegal activities to the world with our TV show Whale Wars and our documentation.”
The International Court of Justice ruled Japan should halt Antarctic whaling in 2014. Japan suspended its hunt for one season, to re-tool its whaling programme with measures such as cutting the number of whales and species targeted, but resumed hunting in the 2015-2016 season.
The country has long maintained most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture. It began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an international whaling moratorium began.
“The Japanese whalers have been exposed, humiliated and most importantly have been denied thousands of lives we have spared from their deadly harpoons,” wrote Watson.
“Thousands of whales are now swimming and reproducing that would now be dead if not for our interventions.”