A group of militant environmentalists has pledged to harass and intimidate the Japanese whaling fleet that recently set sail on an expedition to hunt over 1000 whales, including 50 rare humpback whales.
The group is called the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), and it plans to disrupt the whaling fleet by confronting their ships. The society has several celebrity supporters, including Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, and former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan.
SSCS international director Jonny Vasic said:
“If a ship is harpooning whales we see that as an illegal activity and stopping it is no different to ripping a gun out of the hands of a poacher. ..We’re willing to risk our lives so that our kids and grandkids will still be able to see whales in the ocean. ”
The group’s ship, the Robert Hunter, will leave port from Melbourne this week. The Japanese fleet left last Sunday on its way to the southern oceans.
SSCS is repeating actions from last year. Paul Watson, captain of the SSCS ship last year, threatened to ram Japanese whalers with a giant “can opener” attached to his ship’s bow. This threat was not followed through, but society members tossed foul smelling chemicals onto the whalers’ ship decks and fixing steel plates onto the blood drain of the fleet’s factory ship.
Vasic said the organization would stop at almost nothing to help save the whales from the Japanese fleet. Vasic said:
“Everything is on the table as long as it’s non-violent. I would rule nothing out.” He added: When we show up, the fleet tends to go on the run because of our reputation. When we’re pursuing them at high speed, they can’t hunt.”
The Labor government in Australia, recently elected partially over a strong environmental platform, has pledged military resources to monitor the whaling fleet’s activities. Greenpeace is also sending a ship to monitor the whalers. Many people are concerned the fleet will attack Migaloo, the world’s only white humpback whale.
Japan’s whaling activities have attracted international condemnation, but the Japanese government has refused to back down. They claim they have to kill the whales to study their habits, and that whaling is a strong part of the national culture. Environmentalists counter that the whales generally end up as meat on Japanese tables, and that the government is hiding behind science.