Since 2002, Sea Shepherd has opposed Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with expeditions to Antarctic waters first in 2002 followed by continuous campaigns from 2005 until 2017.
During this period over 6,000 whales were saved from the harpoons of Japanese commercial whalers posing as research whalers by Sea Shepherd interventions.
In 2017, the Japanese government began to invest millions of dollars in security efforts to prevent Sea Shepherd from engaging their fleets. These security measures included military grade real time surveillance.
Although this prevented Sea Shepherd from returning to the Southern Ocean in 2018, it also placed Japan in a position of expending huge resources on continuous security.
In other words, the cost of preventing Sea Shepherd intervention became very expensive.
This and the verdict of the International Court of Justice that exposed Japanese research as fraudulent, coupled with worldwide condemnation of their Southern Ocean activities has in the opinion of Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd led to this decision to declare they will openly undertake commercial whaling activities.
The scheme to pose as researchers will now be dropped and that means there can be absolutely no justification for hunting whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary. This will be the last year of Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd’s objective of ending the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary has been realized. This is a victory for the campaign to make the Southern Ocean a whaling free zone.
If Japan decides to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) it will allow the IWC to pass the motion to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary thus effectively ending whaling in the Southern Hemisphere.
Japan will now join Norway and Iceland as rogue outlaw whaling nations in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic.
The Whale Wars in the Southern Ocean will soon be over. The focus now must be the Northern Hemisphere.
Sea Shepherd welcomes this announcement by Japan and views it as a positive development.
Captain Paul Watson issued a statement saying: “We are delighted to see the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We are delighted that we will soon have a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and we look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan and Iceland. Whaling as a ‘legal’ industry has ended. All that remains is to mop up the pirates.”
Sea Shepherd Australia's Managing Director said: “Sea Shepherd has been relentlessly on the frontline for over a decade defending the whales in the Southern Ocean, and a cessation of whaling off Antarctica is a great victory for all our efforts over the years, including the international crews, the supporters and the majority of Australians and people all over the world that have opposed whaling in the Southern Ocean. With limitless courage, passion and determination, we have made a seemingly impossible task, possible.
“Australians naturally have a strong affinity for the whales that migrate past our coasts, and always felt that with Japan killing whales in the Australian Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, that Japan was operating in their backyard, however, even with this decision, Australian’s resolve to see whales protected globally is unchanged.
"Forty years ago Australia was a commercial whaling nation and with more pressure mounting from within Japan, lets hope that Japan will also see the true value of these highly intelligent, socially complex beings, be that in terms of fighting climate or a healthier marine environment, compared to on someone's plate," Jeff continued.
“Sea Shepherd remains opposed to all whaling in the world's oceans, especially now with Japan joining Iceland and Norway as pirate whaling nations."