Sea Shepherd welcomes support, calls on countries for more
As crews of two diametrically opposed fleets steam south towards the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the governments of the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand issued a joint statement in opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean and called upon Japanese whaling vessels and those of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to ensure that "the safety of human life at sea is their highest priority."
"The Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States jointly condemn any actions that imperil human life in the Southern Ocean," the statement reads. "We are deeply concerned that confrontations in the Southern Ocean will eventually lead to injury or loss of life among both whaling crews and protestors, many of whom are nationals of our countries."
"We at Sea Shepherd have no problem with this," said Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson. "We haven’t sustained any serious injury nor have we caused any injury at sea in 33 years and certainly not in the last six voyages to the Southern Ocean."
During the 2009-2010 season, a collision between a Japanese whaling vessel and a Sea Shepherd boat rendered the latter dead in the water, requiring an emergency rescue by a nearby Sea Shepherd boat.
While the joint resolution strongly condemned the whalers and conservationists for the use of violent tactics, it also signaled strong support for Sea Shepherd and their anti-whaling cause.
"We remain resolute in our opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission, and are disappointed at the recent departure of the Japanese whaling fleet for the Southern Ocean."
The statement was welcomed by Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson as it "clearly condemns the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese fleet" and "validates and encourages Sea Shepherd intervention during Operation No Compromise this year."
But Watson also called upon the governments of these countries to step up their presence in the Southern Ocean by sending naval vessels to enforce international treaties.
"What we would really like to see is these nations directly upholding international conservation law by sending Naval vessels to the Southern Ocean to enforce the protection of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," said Watson. "We often wonder just what it is about the word SANCTUARY that these governments do not seem to understand."
This year's whaling season is off to a bit of a late start as the Japanese whaling fleet scrambled to pull together the necessary support vessels for the 2010-2011 season. But as both fleets make their way south, they are both gearing up for more inevitable confrontation on the high seas.
Photo: Sea Shepherd