Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
 —Mark Twain

Global Animal, Arthur Jeon

JAPAN, December 1, 2010 – Japanese whalers left port in three harpoon ships for the start of the 2010 whaling season, according to anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune. The captain of the Ady Gil, the boat that was sunk by Japanese whalers during last year’s anti-whaling campaign, said that he was notified by a reliable source monitoring the Japanese fleet in their harbor.

The three harpoon vessels that set sail are the Yushin Maru 1,2 and 3.  The factory ship Nisshin Maru, where the whales are chopped up and processed, is still in port loading in supplies.

There was talk earlier this week that the whaling ships might not embark on this year’s whale hunt because never before have the whalers left later than November 19. According to a Greenpeace Japan official quoted in the Japan Times, the delay is due to difficulty in finding a refueling ship. It’s a challenge to find a ship owner who will take the risk of being associated with internationally condemned whaling activities.

Additionally, if New Zealand sends their navy to oversee the whaling as they have announced, Japanese whalers won’t be able to illegally refuel in the whale sanctuary as they have in years past. More pressure still comes from Australia, which launched legal actions in May at the Hague’s International Court of Justice to stop Japan’s whaling in the Antarctic.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation society’s anti-whaling ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker have already set sail for the Southern Ocean. The conservation society’s new vessel, Gojira (aka Godzilla) is en route to Freemantle, Australia.

Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson is expecting a successful anti-whaling season, thanks to the delayed departure of the Japanese whaling ships and Sea Shepherd’s preparedness.  “We’re prepared for their aggression, we’re stronger and better prepared and better equipped than ever,” Watson said.

“I can guarantee we’re going to cut their quota in half, but we’re aiming for 100 per cent this year,” says Watson.

It seems the whale wars are on.

Related: Harpoons & Hookers: 27 Nations Gather At Japan’s Pro-Whaling Conference