Today, SSS Bob Barker caught up with the Japanese whaling fleet’s factory vessel, the Nisshin Maru, in the Cooperation Sea, 280 nautical miles East from Australia's Antarctic Mawson's Research Station, which is 2,425 nautical miles Southwest of Perth, Western Australia and 2,606 nautical miles Southwest of Tasmania (at the position of 64 Degrees 36 Minutes South and 75 Degrees 06 Minutes East). It is now 17 miles from Australia's Davis Research Base. The Yushin Maru No. 2 was found with the Nisshin Maru.
The Dutch-flagged, Dutch-owned, Australian operated Bob Barker confirmed a visual identification on the Nisshin Maru at 10:00 Hours AEDT.
This position places the factory vessel in the Prydz Bay off the Ingrid Christensen Coast of Princess Elizabeth Land, in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Captain of the Bob Barker, Swede Peter Hammarstedt, reported that the Yushin Maru No. 2 tried to obstruct the Bob Barker from shutting down the Nisshin Maru and Japan’s illegal whaling operations by dangerously criss-crossing the bow of the Bob Barker, coming as close as 600 yards and threatening to deploy prop fouling devices.
Captain Hammarstedt has made the following statement: “We found the Nisshin Maru drifting off-guard in the early hours of the morning. We suspect that at first light, they intended to begin processing whales from the nearby Yushin Maru 2. But along with the rising sun, the crew of the Cetacean Death Star saw the Bob Barker on the horizon, coming to shut down their poaching operations today, and hereafter.
My crew and I are elated today because we are now certain beyond doubt not a single whale will ride up that morbid slipway I see before me on this beautiful morning. All of our crew, on-shore volunteers, staff and supporters should feel very proud knowing that because of their passion and support these majestic and beautiful whales are safe. We will stay on that slipway and make every effort to ensure no whales are killed on Sea Shepherd watch. The sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary has been restored.”
Sea Shepherd Australia Director, Jeff Hansen, said, “The world’s last remaining whaling factory ship, the most evil vessel ever built, was shut down today by Sea Shepherd. This vessel and its illegal cohorts are in contempt of the Australian Federal Court and have no place being in an established whale sanctuary off Australia's Antarctic coast. This is a final nail in the coffin of Japan’s illegal whaling that has no place in the 21st century. It’s time the Japanese whale poachers got the message; you’re not welcome in Australian waters, go back to Japan and take your illegal, cruel and barbaric whale poaching operations with you.”
The Bob Barker is now half a mile behind the Nisshin Maru, 17 miles off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The SSS Steve Irwin is heading to that position at full speed with the Yushin Maru No. 3 following. The Steve Irwin is 250 nautical miles from the Nisshin Maru.
The Yushin Maru No. 1 was last reported hundreds of nautical miles to the East of the Cooperation Sea and low on fuel.
The SSS Sam Simon is still escorting the Korean flagged whaling fleet tanker, Sun Laurel, some 600 nautical miles from the Nisshin Maru.
Operation Zero Tolerance Co-Campaign Leader Bob Brown says,” One cannot even begin to imagine the massive pain and suffering that these whales endure when they are chased, hunted and have an explosive harpoon shatter through their body. Not to mention the helplessness their families would feel watching and hearing one of their own in such pain. To know that the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary are safe fills me with absolute joy. It’s a good day for the whales, it’s a good day for Sea Shepherd!”
The Sea Shepherd ships have been in full pursuit of the Nisshin Maru since January 29th. The pursuit has covered 2,550 nautical miles from the middle of the Ross Sea to the Cooperation Sea.