Anti-whaling activists' drone tracks Japan fleet
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 25, 2011
activists intercepted Japan’s harpoon fleet far north of Antarctic waters on
Sunday, they said, with the help of a military-style drone.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society spokesman Paul Watson said the unmanned
long-range drone, launched from the anti-whaling ship the Steve Irwin, had
located the Japanese fleet and relayed the coordinates back to the
Watson said Sea Shepherd, a militant activist group which regularly
shadows and harasses the Japanese whalers, had caught up with the fleet at
37 degrees south, 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) above Antarctic waters.
No whales had been killed so far, he added.
"This is going to be a long hard pursuit from here to the coast of
Antarctica," said Watson.
"But thanks to these drones, we now have an
advantage we have never had before -- eyes in the sky."
Japanese security vessels were tailing the Steve Irwin to prevent it from
following the Nisshin Maru factory ship, Watson said.
But he said the
activists had established the upper hand with their two drones, donated by
Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security (MOMPS), a private US firm.
Fitted with cameras and detection equipment, the drones have previously
been used to combat bluefin tuna poaching off Libya.
aircraft are most notably used by US forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Sea Shepherd drones were developed by New Jersey-based MOMPS, which
is described as working to enforce international maritime and fisheries
rules and "helping to prevent acts of terrorism and piracy worldwide".
Watson said: "We can cover hundreds of miles with these drones and they
have proven to be valuable assets for this campaign."
While the Steve
Irwin was being tailed by the harpooners' security detail he said Sea
Shepherd’s other vessels the Bob Barker and Brigitte Bardot -- which can
travel faster than the whalers -- were free to chase the Japanese south.
Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan has
since 1987 used a loophole to carry out “lethal research” in the name of
science -- a practice condemned by environmentalists and anti-whaling
Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the
Netherlands issued a joint statement earlier this month expressing their
"disappointment" at the annual hunt and warning against violent encounters.
Confrontations with the increasingly sophisticated Sea Shepherd group
have escalated in recent years, with one clash sinking an activist powerboat
and a protester arrested for boarding a Japanese ship.
harassment saw the Japanese cut their hunt short last season, and they are
now suing the activists in Washington seeking an injunction against what
they say is a “life-threatening” campaign.
Japan's coastguard has
deployed an unspecified number of vessels to protect the whaling ships, and
Tokyo has confirmed it will use some of the public funds earmarked for
tsunami reconstruction to boost security for the hunt.
Sea Shepherd says drones find, photograph Japan's whaling fleet
Reuters 25 Dec 2011
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hardline whaling opponents
attempting to stop Japan's
annual whale hunt in the Antarctic said Sunday
they had intercepted and
photographed its whaling fleet using pilotless
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said it located
the Japanese factory
ship Nisshin Maru off Australia's western coast
Saturday using the drones,
the first time this season it has made contact
with the whalers.
However, other Japanese ships shielded the vessel
"to allow it to escape,"
Sea Shepherd said in a statement.
caught them due west of Perth," founder Paul Watson told Reuters by
satellite phone from the ship Steve Irwin. "For the next few days we will be
chasing them. We are heading south."
The two drones are equipped with
cameras and detection equipment and allow
Sea Shepherd to monitor the
whaling fleet from a distance, he said...