800 whales saved

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 10 Maret 2013 | 19.55

TENSE: Heated clashes during the Japanese whaling season. Picture: Eliza Muirhead/Sea Shepherd Australia

MORE than 800 whales escaped the harpoon this season because of anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd, its director Bob Brown said yesterday.

"This is the lowest whale kill in the 10 years that the Sea Shepherd has been operating and that's something to celebrate," Mr Brown said.

Sea Shepherd has claimed victory in the Southern Ocean as Japan's whaling fleet heads home with an estimated 75 whale carcasses on board, Sea Shepherd said.

Worsening weather conditions, disappearing plankton stocks and the whales heading north have combined for the worst season the Japanese fleet has had in the decade Sea Shepherd ships have patrolled the Southern Ocean, Mr Brown said.

The 2013 whaling season was marred by growing aggression on both sides, with claims and counter-claims of violence and harassment.

Mr Brown said Sea Shepherd was not optimistic the hearing on whaling at the International Court of Justice in The Hague would begin soon.

Australia's argument that Japan's whaling breached international obligations had been lodged with the ICJ since 2010, he said.

"We can't rely on that court case getting finalised by next season."

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that his Government will continue whaling for two more seasons, Mr Brown said.

"The Sea Shepherd will be even more effective if the Japanese return in future seasons.

"We've got more ships and we're more effective than ever before."

He said the assertion by Japan's fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, that eating whales was the same as Australians eating kangaroos was the first time the Japanese had not used science as an excuse for whaling.

"The Sea Shepherd does not condone killing whales in our homeland. Japan needs to restrict its actions to its own territorial waters."

Mr Brown said Sea Shepherd crews and former captain Paul Watson were placed under phenomenal pressure this season.

"Paul Watson is totally committed to protecting those whales and so are his crews."

The Sea Shepherd fleet Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, Sam Simon and Brigitte Bardot and their crews are expected to dock in Williamstown, Melbourne, on March 20.

jennifer.crawley@news.com.au


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