Dec. 22, 2010 SOUTHERN OCEAN– Japanese whalers radically changed their slaughter tactics this season in an attempt to foil anti-whaling activists whose resources this year are formidable. Japan awarded itself a scientific permit to kill whales in the millions of square kilometers of ocean to the south of Australia and the area south of New Zealand. According to Sea Shepherd captain, Paul Watson, “this new special permit has Japan thumbing their noses at both Australia and New Zealand.”

Considering Australia’s lawsuit against Japan at the Hague and its proposed aerial surveillance of Japan’s “criminal behavior,” plus New Zealand’s intensified monitoring of their whaling and the worldwide condemnation, Japan seems unconcerned to lose all legal and ethical ground. Japan may have doubled its area of killing and deceit. But the determination of those protecting the whales knows no bounds. – Global Animal

Sydney Morning Herald, by Andrew Darby

Japanese whalers have radically altered their plans this summer, doubling the Southern Ocean area where they may hunt.

The change, lodged with the International Whaling Commission, draws Australian interests into the disputed hunt more strongly this season and toughens the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling activists’ task of finding the whalers.

Japan’s self-awarded scientific permit for 2010-11, obtained by Greenpeace, gives the whaling fleet millions of square kilometres of waters to the south of Australia in which to hunt, as well as the area south of New Zealand.

In previous seasons, the fleet has alternated between these two areas. Until the notification was given to the IWC Secretariat in Britain, it was thought to be New Zealand’s turn, with its authorities mainly responsible for search and rescue, or monitoring and surveillance.

Greens leader Bob Brown said the shift made it imperative for Australian authorities to watch the hunt, at least through aerial surveillance. ”I will be talking to the Japanese ambassador in Canberra and offering the opinion that this is criminal behaviour in the Australian Antarctic Territory,” he said.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt called for a customs vessel to be sent to keep a check on the conflict, as well as chronicle the continued slaughter of whales.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke confirmed the area designated was larger than Japan’s historical practice. But he said there had been no decision to send a monitoring vessel south this season, and there were adequate international protocols to fulfil search and rescue obligations.

The Japanese permit confirms that a four-ship fleet plans to take up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales this summer. Humpbacks also have been included, but Japan told the IWC it would continue to suspend this catch ”as long as progress is being made in the discussions on the future of the IWC”. (These talks hit a wall at the commission’s annual meeting in Morocco last June, and no further rounds have been scheduled.)

Greenpeace’s international whales campaign co-ordinator, John Frizell, said the fleet’s size had been reduced for the second year, and the season shortened by one month.

”Whatever they are doing, it is not business as usual, and I suspect it is being driven largely by the fact that sales of whale meat in Japan are poor and that they need to cut operating costs,” he said.

Sea Shepherd activists have three ships preparing to search for the fleet, which is believed to be steaming through the South Pacific before reaching Antarctic waters in about a week’s time.

Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson, said: ”The wider area will of course make it more difficult for us to find the whaling fleet, and this new special permit has Japan thumbing their noses at both Australia and New Zealand.”

Related: Whale War Is On

“If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.” –Albert Einstein