News Index > Sortable News 10/06 - now > Jan 2008
Japanese Whalers vs. Sea Shepherd

Japanese Whalers Thwarted
Shu-Ching Jean Chen, 01.22.08


In an epic culinary clash in Antarctic waters, whale defenders are managing to stay the harpoons of Japanese hunters.

The Japanese government said Monday that its state-sponsored whaling fleet had stopped hunting after 10 days of harassment by the environmental activist groups Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary near Australia.

Greenpeace said its vessel Esperanza had driven the Japanese processing ship Nisshin Maru out of the hunting grounds after a high-speed chase over hundreds of miles.

Without the factory boat, Japanese harpoon boats have ceased activities, as they have no way of processing their catch.

Clashes between vessels from the whale-hunting countries Japan, Iceland and Norway and their two nemeses, Greenpeace, which uses peaceful means, and the more aggressive Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has sunk whaling boats, have been an annual ritual for more than two decades. But this year has shaped up as especially confrontational following Japan�s announcement in November that it would target for the first time 50 humpback whales, only to reverse itself a month later under pressure from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and the European Union.

Greenpeace�s victory came after the resolution of a tense three-day standoff in which two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists were detained aboard the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2. Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane had boarded the Japanese boat to deliver a warning letter to the Japanese crew. They were released after the Australian government intervened.

Crew members of the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin also threw bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid on the deck of the Yushin Maru No. 2, seeking to prevent the Japanese whalers from working.

Japan, the world's leading consumer of seafood, turned to whale meat as a cheap source of protein for its impoverished population in the aftermath of World War II.

An international moratorium on commercial whaling was imposed by the International Whaling Commission in 1986, but it provides a loophole for the killing of a limited number of whales for research purposes.

Whale meat isn't especially popular in Japan, but the ban has rankled with nationalists in a country where whales are not viewed with the same sentimentality as in the West. The ban is viewed by politicians and bureaucrats as a dangerous case of the international community limiting what they see as the sustainable use of marine resources.

Government-sponsored "scientific" whaling expeditions take about a thousand minke and fin whales a year, keeping a limited amount of whale meat on the market in Japan until the day when Japan can win enough votes on the IWC to reintroduce commercial hunting.

Paul Watson in furious fight with-Japanese whalers and Greenpeace !

January 20, 2008
War of the Whales

Eco-warrior Paul Watson is engaged in a furious fight with both Japanese whalers and Greenpeace
Tony Allen-Mills

Paul Watson has been engaging in acts of derring-do on behalf of the animal kingdom for more than 30 years.

In the early 1970s, not long after he co-founded the Greenpeace environmental movement, the Canadian was among a small group of activists who took to the seas off California to try to stop a Soviet fleet from killing whales.

Watson - Greenpeace membership number: 007 - was steering a small, fast, inflatable Zodiac speedboat. His aim was to position himself between the whales and the Soviet harpoons. The whalers had already opened fire on a passing pod of whales, and at one point an injured sperm whale broke away from the group. It headed straight for Watson's boat.

As Watson heaved on his rudder, the whale passed a few feet away, its eye clear of the water. It seemed to be staring directly at the men who were trying to save it. Watson has never forgotten that moment.

"In an instant my life was transformed and a purpose for my life was reverently established, " said the man who would later fall out with Greenpeace and found one of the world's most aggressive environmental groups, the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Watson recently wrote a 1,600-line poem about his efforts to protect that whale. It began: "Leviathan's solitary eye haunts me still/ I am obsessed and driven mad with anger."

Watson's obsession and anger burn as fiercely as ever.

In the heaving waters of the Southern Ocean last week, it was the black-hulled Sea Shepherd flagship, the Steve Irwin - a former Scottish fisheries vessel renamed after the Australian wildlife expert killed by a stingray 16 months ago - that was embroiled in a hair-raising skirmish with a Japanese whaling fleet less than 200 miles off the coast of Antarctica.

http://www.timesonl tol/news/ environment/ article3216874. ece
Also: free/story/ 0,,2243453, 00.html
http://www.animalsi nthewild. org <http://www.animalsi nthewild. org/

Sat Jan 12, 2008 10:26 am (PST)

BBC reported this morning that Greenpeace had discovered the Japanese whalers but would keep the region secret so that 'more radical activists' would not find them...

Whale Slaughter: Greenpeace Tracks Down Japanese Fleet

A militant anti-whaling group on Saturday said it attacked a Japanese whaling vessel with "stink bombs", frustrating the hunt, only an hour after two of its activists were freed from the harpoon boat.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, the Steve Irwin, said his crew resumed its actions against the Japanese fleet shortly after the two men were handed to an Australian customs boat on Friday.

The pair -- Australian Benjamin Potts said Briton Giles Lane -- were held aboard the harpoon boat Yushin Maru No.2 for two days after they clambered onboard Tuesday to deliver a letter protesting the slaughter of whales.

"One hour after our people were released we then went after the Yushin Maru No. 2 and hit them with our stink bombs," Paul Watson, told AFP via telephone.

"What that will do is it makes it impossible to work on the deck for two days."

The Sea Shepherd ship is in the icy waters off Antarctica to prevent Japanese whalers from carrying out their annual whale hunt which this year will see about 1,000 of the giant creatures slaughtered.

Japan exploits a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling to kill the animals for what it calls scientific research, while admitting the meat from the hunt ends up on dinner plates.

The Japanese company which owns the whaling vessels, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd, condemned the butyric acid attacks on its ships which it likened to the work of terrorists.

"We safely released to an Australian patrol boat the intruders without any harm, even though Sea Shepherd has long threatened our safety," the company's president Kazuo Yamamoto said in a statement.

"The night attack is nothing more than an inhumane act for which they deserve to be called terrorists as they show no sign of honour as human beings," he said.

Watson said he had sent out a smaller boat to deliver the butyric acid bombs, or "stink bombs", which were intended to make the smell on deck so unpleasant that the whalers were unable to work.

"We are not down here hanging banners and taking pictures, we are down here to save whales," he said.

"We are going to keep hitting these guys... as long as we don't hurt anybody.

"The most important thing is this is day number nine that no whales have been killed."

Watson said the Steve Irwin, which had to follow the Australian customs boat some 50 miles away from the Japanese ship to collect its detained crew, was now searching for the Japanese fleet.

"We will continue to disrupt their activities," he said.

The whalers are also being carefully watched by Greenpeace activists, whose vessel Esperanza is trailing the factory ship the Nisshin Maru which the environmentalists claim to have kept out of the hunt for six days.

"No whales have been killed in that time," expedition leader Karli Thomas said in a statement.

"Now we've got two whalers out of the hunting grounds. If they try to begin whaling, we'll carry out peaceful direct action by putting ourselves in front of the harpoons to defend the whales."

Meanwhile, Japanese diplomats and government officials will hold an emergency meeting soon to discuss measures to prevent future attacks against whaling vessels, the online edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

Suzanne Cass
PO Box 252
Phone 0414 726935

January 18, 2008

Just confirmed by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, crew members Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane were released from the rogue Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru 2 and they are currently on board the Australian Oceanic Viking. Word is that they will be transferred back to Sea Shepherd in the morning.

Thanks to everyone who called, wrote letters and protested at the Japanese Embassy in London, the New York Consulate Officeand the Embassy in Washington DC. (Protest Reports, Pictures and Video will be available on our website on Friday)

Sea Shepherd will resume their whale defense activities just as soon as they get Potts and Giles back on board the Steve Irwin.

Please contact the Japanese Consulates and Embassies to demand an end to their illegal whaling activity in the Antarctic Sanctuary.


Ambassador and Consul General Motoatsu Sakurai
Japanese Consulate General
299 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10171

Call: (212) 371-8222 (be patient as you will have to listen to long messages in japanese and then english)

Fax: (212) 371-1294


For a listing of other staff members at the Japanese Consulate Office visit:

Ambassador Ryozo Kato
Embassy of Japan in the USA
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008


202-238-6700 (Main)
202-238-6800 (Visa)
202-238-6900 (Japan Information & Cultural Center)
202-238-6773 (JET Office in the Embassy) 


202-328-2187 (Main)
202-328-2184 (Visa)
Also, If you are not from the greater New York area, protest at your own local embassy or consulate office.

To find the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate Office:

17 January 2008

A Japanese whaling ship late Thursday handed over to an Australian customs vessel two anti-whaling activists who climbed aboard two days earlier, an official from Japan's Fisheries Agency said. Australia sent the customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, to the Japanese whaling ship in a bid to end the stand-off involving the activists of the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society..... ... com/article/ ALeqM5iqt3S0HjlK F_20rSnraBJT9r6y OQ

Australian PM promises to fight whaling
January 17 2008 - Kevin Rudd, Australia's new Labor prime minister, on Thursday said his government would pursue all means to end commercial whaling by Japan and other countries, dismissing claims that Japanese hunting is for scientific purposes.  Mr Rudd's comments, which mark a significant shift in Australian foreign policy, came as a tense stand-off that has soured relations between Japan and Australia eased after Canberra said it was poised to secure the release of two anti-whaling protesters held by the Japanese fleet in Antarctica's Southern Ocean.... http://www.ft. com/cms/s/ 0/0f2adff4- c50d-11dc- 811a-0000779fd2a c.html

2008-01-17 - Greenpeace drives Japanese whaling fleet out of the Southern Ocean hunting grounds after 24-hour chase http://media- newswire. com/release_ 1059570.html

2008-01-17 - Australian Court Orders Japan to Stop Whaling
http://media- newswire. com/release_ 1059547.html


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE � January 17, 2008

To Interview Captain Paul Watson on board the M/Y Steve Irwin
SAT Phone: (00) 870 764 685 972
International Pre-Fix 011 (From US) 0011 (From Australia)

Sea Shepherd Australia - International Office
Contact: Kristine Vasic +61 (0) 423506200
Melbourne Office: +61 (0) 3 9445 0323 Email: media@seashepherd. org

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - U.S. Offices
Contact: Amy Baird: +360-370-5650 www.seashepherd. org

Photos, video, and additional information: http://media. seashepherd. org


Melbourne, Australia �Sea Shepherd crew members Benjamin Potts from Australia and Giles Lane from the U.K. today remain hostages on the illegal Japanese Whaling vessel, Yushin Maru No. 2.

In response to inquiries from the media, the parents of Benjamin Potts have asked Sea Shepherd to issue the following statement on their behalf.

"Our only concern at this point in time is the welfare and safety of our son and his fellow crew member. We urge all parties involved in this incident to ensure that it is resolved as quickly as possible. We are very proud of our son and support him and the anti-whaling campaign being conducted by Sea Shepherd. We have received extensive inquiries from the media seeking interviews. However, at this time we feel it is not appropriate to take part in any interviews or make any further statements. We ask the media to please respect our privacy and that of our family at this time."

Photos, video, and additional information:


ABOARD THE STEVE IRWIN � 16 January 2008 -- 0500 GMT

Twenty-four hours later, Sea Shepherd crew members Giles Lane from the U.K. and Benjamin Potts from Australia remain hostages on the Yushin Maru No. 2.

Media Reports that the hostages have been released to the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin are false. Reports that the Steve Irwin will not accept calls from the Japanese vessels or authorities are false. No calls have been received. The Yushin Maru No. 2 has refused to return radio calls from the Steve Irwin.

No one from the Japanese or Australian government has contacted Sea Shepherd to organize the transfer of the hostages from the Japanese whaler back to the Steve Irwin. The Institute for Cetacean Research, the front group for the illegal Japanese whaling operations did send a letter with demands to be met prior to a release. Sea Shepherd is not interested in any demands based on the holding of hostages.

"Using hostages to make demands is the hallmark of terrorism and Sea Shepherd has no interest in negotiating with terrorist groups," said Captain Paul Watson. "The hostages must be released unconditionally."

Sea Shepherd is releasing the letter it received from ICR to the media. (See attachment)


Subject: Sea Shepherd ready to rescue activists

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 20:39:38 -0500

Conservation group Sea Shepherd says it will launch its own 'aggressive' rescue of activists detained on Japanese whaling ship if it has to January 16, 2008

The activists boarded the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 in Antarctic waters yesterday afternoon to deliver a written plea to stop killing whales.

A witness said the pair, from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin, was tied to the rails of the ship and immersed up to their waists in freezing seawater after an attempt to throw one overboard. 

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said today that Japan had agreed to release the pair; Benjamin Potts, 28, of Sydney, and Giles Lane, 35, from Britain(...)

From: seashepherdmedia- bounces@seasheph
[mailto:seashepherdmedia- bounces@seasheph] On Behalf Of
seashepherdmedia@ seashepherd. org
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 8:09 AM
To: seashepherdmedia@ seashepherd. org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE � January 15, 2008

To Interview Captain Paul Watson on board the M/Y Steve Irwin
SAT Phone: (00) 870 764 685 972
International Pre-Fix 011 (From US) 0011 (From Australia)

Sea Shepherd Australia - International Office
Contact: Kristine Vasic +61 (0) 423506200
Melbourne Office: +61 (0) 3 9445 0323 Email: media@seashepherd. org

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - U.S. Offices
Contact: Amy Baird: +360-370-5650 www.seashepherd. org

Photos, video, and additional information: http://media. seashepherd. org


ABOARD THE STEVE IRWIN � 15 January 2008 -- 0500 GMT

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin has intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet and has five illegal whaling vessels in sight. Four vessels plus the supply vessel Oriental Bluebird were located on the Sixty Degree South line at 2415 Hours GMT. The Factory ship Nisshin Maru is about 400 miles to the northwest of the position of the rest of the fleet.

When located, the Oriental Bluebird had the catcher ship Kyo Maru alongside transferring supplies. The Yushin Maru has also been visually identified by name. Upon spotting Sea Shepherd, the crews of both ships began running along the decks releasing the lines to get underway. The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is in full visual pursuit of the entire Japanese whaling fleet minus the Nisshin Maru.

Sea Shepherd has notified the Greenpeace ship Esperanza of the coordinates of the Japanese fleet as promised although Greenpeace refuses to reciprocate with the coordinates of the Nisshin Maru. Sea Shepherd is releasing the coordinates of the fleet to the public at 60 Degrees 02 Minutes South and 77 Degrees 38 Minutes East. Weather conditions are perfect. Calm seas with excellent visibility.

"We have them on the run," said Captain Paul Watson from on board the Steve Irwin. "We will hound these poachers for as long as we can and when we catch up with them we will disable their equipment and do everything physically possible short of inflicting injury on the crew in order to stop their illegal activities."

Japanese whaling spokesperson Greg Inwood confirmed with New Zealand radio that the fleet has been running for days in fear of Sea Shepherd catching them

The Steve Irwin has a helicopter in the air and a fast boat approaching the whalers with the main vessel only seven miles to the rear of the fleet and closing. The small boat has a crew of four including three Australians and one American.


ABOARD THE STEVE IRWIN � 15 January 2008 -- 0700 GMT � Antarctic Whale Sanctuary

The captain of the Japanese Whaling Vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 is holding two Sea Shepherd crew members from the conservation vessel Steve Irwin hostage.

Australian citizen Benjamin Potts and British citizen Giles Lane have been tied to the radar mast of the harpoon vessel. The Captain of the whaling vessel has refused Captain Paul Watson's demand for the release of the crew.

The two crew members boarded the whaling vessel with a message to inform them that they were illegally killing whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd is demanding that Australia and Great Britain demand an immediate release of these two crew-members.

The letter delivered to the captain of the Japanese whaling vessel stated the following:

To: The Captain of any Japanese ship
Involved with poaching operations in The Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.


My name is Giles David Lane

I am a British citizen and an unpaid volunteer on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin

I have come onboard your ship because you have refused to acknowledge communication from our ship pertaining to your illegal activities in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.

I am not boarding your ship with the intent to commit a crime, to rob you or to inflict injury upon your crew and yourself or damage to your ship. My reason for boarding is to deliver the message that you are in violation of international conservation law and in violation of the laws of Australia. It is my intent to deliver this message and then to request that you allow me to disembark from your vessel without harm or seizure.

I am empowered to act to uphold these laws in accordance with the United Nations World Charter for Nature and the laws of Australia.

I am boarding you with the request that you please refrain from any further criminal activity in these waters and cease and desist with the continued killing of endangered whales in this designated Whale Sanctuary in violation of the IWC global moratorium on commercial whaling and that you cease and desist in continued violations of Australian law by killing whales within the territorial waters of Australia without permit or permission from the government of Australia.

I am boarding you on the orders of Captain Paul Watson who requests that you treat me with respect and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
About Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an International non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world�s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. Visit www.seashepherd. org for more information.

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