Poaching operations by the Japanese whaling fleet were shut down in mid-February after Sea Shepherd interfered with its mother ship. Sea Shepherd’s ship the Bob Barker chased the M/V Nisshin Maru south in the Cooperation Sea, until they reached the Amery Ice Shelf, at which time the Nisshin Maru turned around, according to a report on the Sea Shepherd Web site (seashepherd.org.au).
The Bob Barker and fellow Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin plan to follow the factory ship for the duration of the whaling season.
Cooperation Sea is off Antarctica, within the Australian Antarctic Territory, and south of India. The temperature was -9 degrees C and the sea around the ships was filled with icebergs, Sea Shepherd reported.
“Back in September 2007, the up and coming Australian Government stated that it had the guts to stand up to the whalers,” said Operation Zero Tolerance Co-Campaign Leader Bob Brown. “Well, it’s been over five years now and if it were not for Sea Shepherd, over 4,000 whales would have had their lives extinguished as a result of these cruel and barbaric poachers. Sea Shepherd is doing the work that the Australian people want to see done.”
Sea Shepherd Australian Director Jeff Hansen said, “I believe Antarctica is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, a place that gives you a taste of one of the last wild places left on our planet. This is the whales’ summer feeding grounds. It’s an established whale sanctuary and it is illegal to kill whales under Australian Federal Law. Yet here we have seen these poachers from Japan rubbing all Australians’ noses in it by chasing down and harpooning an adult Minke whale in Australia’s waters.”
Since January 29th, the Sea Shepherd fleet has chased the Japanese whaling fleet for 2,500 miles westward from the Ross Sea.