January 30, 2013
full story and photos:
AFP - Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd said Wednesday it had
intercepted the Japanese fleet in its annual Southern Ocean hunt "before a
single harpoon has been fired".
Sea Shepherd claims to have saved the
lives of 4,000 whales over the past eight whaling seasons with ever-greater
campaigns of harassment against the Japanese harpoon fleet.
militant environmentalist group said the Brigitte Bardot, a former ocean
racer, had intercepted the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 3 in the Southern
Ocean at a relatively northern latitude.
"Given that the large
concentrations of whales are found further south, closer to the Antarctic
continent where there are high concentrations of krill, this would indicate
that they have not yet begun whaling," said Brigitte Bardot captain Jean
Former Australian politician Bob Brown, who assumed
leadership of the anti-whaling campaign from fugitive Sea Shepherd founder
Paul Watson due to legal issues earlier this month, said it was welcome
"It is likely that we have intercepted these whale poachers
before a single harpoon has been fired," said Brown.
Watson is wanted
by Interpol after skipping bail last July in Germany, where he was arrested
on Costa Rican charges relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark
finning in 2002.
He is on board Sea Shepherd's main ship, Steve
Irwin, but has stepped down as skipper and has vowed to abide by a US court
ruling in December banning the group from physically confronting any vessel
in the Japanese fleet.
The ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit requires Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 yards (metres) from
whaling vessels and prohibits "navigating in a manner that is likely to
endanger the safe navigation of any such vessel".
The whaling fleet
left Japan for the Southern Ocean in late December, planning to catch up to
935 Antarctic minke whales and up to 50 fin whales.
Tokyo claims it
catches whales for scientific research -- a loophole in the international
ban on whaling -- but makes no secret of the fact that they ultimately end
up on dinner plates.
Sea Shepherd's campaign this year is its biggest
yet, involving four ships, a helicopter, three drones and more than 100 crew