As of 1700 AEDT today, the Sea Shepherd Fleet has shut down the operations of the Japanese whaling fleet for seven consecutive days. The Sea Shepherd ships now guard the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, rendering the factory vessel unable to butcher and process whale meat.
Captain of The Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, said, “The primary strategy of our Antarctic Whale Defence Campaigns is to secure the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, and allow no dead whales to pass into this floating abattoir: We have achieved this goal. We will continue to block the slipway of this poaching ship, relentless in our mission to protect the whales and the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
Throughout January, the Sea Shepherd Fleet has engaged the Nisshin Maru for a total of nine days and has monitored the poachers for an additional two days from The Steve Irwin’s helicopter. Further, accounting for the three-day journey it would have taken the whalers to return to their self-designated killing grounds after being chased from the region, Sea Shepherd is able to say with absolute certainty that for at least 14 days of January, the Japanese whaling fleet has been unable to kill whales.
With half of the month of January accounted for, alongside the monitoring program by the Australian government and bad weather conditions that would have made whaling during this period difficult if not impossible, the whaling fleet has had a disastrous month. The whalers rely heavily upon January as their most profitable month, and Sea Shepherd is hailing January 2014 as our most successful in a decade of enforcing the 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling.
Early interception and a persistent chase enabled the Sea Shepherd Fleet to effectively suspend whaling operations until they were able to take up position and secure the slipway of the Nisshin Maru.
Given the whalers average 25 whale kills on a good day, Sea Shepherd estimates that intervention during Operation Relentless has so far saved the lives of approximately 350 whales.
Captain of The Sam Simon, Adam Meyerson, said, “2014 has been a great year for the whales so far. Now that Sea Shepherd has a small navy, it gives us flexibility to use our ships to keep the whaling fleet on the run and out of the hunt indefinitely. We will not rest until this illegal fleet is driven from the sanctuary.”
Photos by Tim Watters