Despite much evidence to the contrary, Japanese whalers continue to spout the line that they kill up to 1000 whale annually for research. This winter the Sea Shepherds found the whalers before they had killed a single whale. While the activists are pummeled by water cannons in their attempts to hinder the operation, the whalers complain about having flares thrown at their ships. Are the Sea Shepherd’s tactics really dangerous, or are the Japanese whalers just afraid that they will work?— Global Animal
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for calm after Japanese whalers and conservation activists clashed in the Southern Ocean.
The Japanese claim Sea Shepherd anti-whaling protesters aboard the Bob Barker threw “flash bang” grenades at their whaling vessel the Yushin Maru No 2 on Sunday evening.
But Captain Paul Watson says that’s not true and his “courageous” crew only threw flares at the whalers.
Ms Gillard has called on both sides to act more responsibly.
“This is a remote, inhospitable, dangerous place,” she told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“Any sense that somehow you can act irresponsibly and somehow someone miraculously turns up to save you – that is not the way the world works.”
The Institute of Cetacean Research, which runs Japan’s so-called scientific whaling program, has released footage showing Sea Shepherd activists throwing flame and smoke flares at the Yushin Maru No 2 from inflatable Zodiacs.
The institute said the activists “started hand-throwing at least two flash bangs and one smoke bomb” which either landed on the ship’s bow or became entangled in a protecting net.
The action was “dangerous and violent”, the whalers said.
But Captain Watson denied throwing flares was potentially life-threatening.
“Not when they’re sitting there with water cannons trained on us which they could easily train on the flares,” he told AAP via satellite phone.
“They shoot at us, they throw concussion grenades at us, they ram our ships, cut them in half and destroy them, they turn long-range acoustical weapons on us, they throw nuts and bolts at us and then the whine when we throw stink bombs and smoke bombs.”
Captain Watson said Sea Shepherd would continue harassing the whaling fleet “to ensure the maximum number of whales will be saved”.
“Whaling with three conservation vessels on your ass is inefficient,” he said.
The federal opposition argues the latest clash proves Labor should send a customs vessel to the Southern Ocean to monitor the whalers and activists.
“The incident serves as a reminder of the significant risks that could result from continuing conflicts between the two groups,” opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said in a statement.
“It confirms the need for an independent vessel to be in the area that can monitor these events and take a leading role in search and rescue if necessary.”
© 2011 AAP
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