The Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2, with armed Japanese Coast Guard on board, has entered the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone around Macquarie Island at 1500 Hours AEST on January 31st, chasing Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's long-range ship, the SSS Bob Barker.The Australian government has officially notified the Japanese government to order the Shonan Maru No. 2 to remain outside of Australian territorial waters.
(file photo) Shonan Maru No. 2, Jan 4 2012 - photo: Guillaume Collet
"Sea Shepherd Australia applauds the Federal Environment Minister, the Honourable Tony Burke, on his quick response to this matter. However the poachers have completely disregarded Australia’s request as an armed vessel of the Government of Japan continues to steam deeper into Australia’s waters in violation of the Australian Federal Court order,” said Sea Shepherd Australia Director Jeff Hansen.
The Japanese whaling fleet has been in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order since 2008 that prohibits them from killing whales in Australian territorial waters. In spite of the ruling, the Institute for Cetacean Research announced that it intends to illegally kill nearly one thousand minke and fifty endangered fin whales during its 2012/2013 whale-hunting season.
The Bob Barker set a course to Macquarie Island to lose the Shonan Maru No. 2, which is presently tailing them.
Captain of the Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, says: "The Shonan Maru No. 2 is an integral part of the Japanese whaling programme. On board are armed storm troopers from the Japan Coast Guard whose sole mission is to violently prevent my crew of whale defenders, many of whom are Australian citizens, from upholding Australian domestic law and international law protecting whales.”
The SSS Steve Irwin is being tailed by the Yushin Maru No. 1.
The SSS Brigitte Bardot has chased the Yushin Maru No. 3 some 300 miles to the South. Only the Yushin Maru No. 2 remains with the Nisshin Maru and both vessels are far north of the whaling area and running from the conservationist vessels.
This now marks the first January on record that not a single whale was killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. January has always been the peak month for the whale killers.
The Bob Barker found the Nisshin Maru on Tuesday, January 29th. Unfortunately heavy fog and rough seas allowed the Nisshin Maru to escape.
With a Sea Shepherd ship in pursuit, the Nisshin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 2 will not be able to stop to hunt whales.
The Sea Shepherd ship, SSS Sam Simon, continues to pursue the Nisshin Maru, free of a tail and assisted by aerial drones performing search grids.
Once the Bob Barker loses the tail of the Shonan Maru No. 2 they will return to the pursuit of the factory ship, Nisshin Maru. The objective is for all four Sea Shepherd ships to keep the whalers separated and on the run. This Sea Shepherd's ninth Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance, is currently on the mark for its goal of having this be a no kill year for the Japanese poachers.