Tazi Phillips, Global Animal

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced on Friday that they are returning to the Southern Ocean Sanctuary this December with the launch of Operation Divine Wind to protect the great whales from Japan’s hunting fleet. Sea Shepherd, an international non-profit and marine wildlife conservation organization, is mobilizing in response to confirmation by Japanese news sources that the country’s whaling fleet will resume hunting the protected animals before the end of the year. 

Sea Shepherd crewmember readies the slingshot to unleash red paint symbolic of blood on the factory ship. Photo credit: Simon Ager 

This news comes after Sea Shepherd successfully suspended Japan’s whaling earlier this year. After weeks of persistent attacks from the anti-whaling protesters, the whaling fleet was forced to temporarily suspend their hunt in early February.

Fisheries agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku was quoted saying, “It’s extremely regrettable that our research activity has been obstructed by the acts of sabotage, which could lead to serious injuries or damage. We hope to return to normal operation as soon as possible.”

As the third largest economy in the world, it makes little sense politically and economically for the Japanese fleet to return to the Antarctic to whale. The Sea Shepherd press release suggested that the Japanese whaling fleet’s motivation has shifted from hunting the endangered whales to simply refusing to surrender to the pressure from wildlife conservation groups. Furthermore, the Japanese government has refused to back down from Sea Shepherd, designating $27 million (AUD) to boost security for the upcoming fleet as a precaution.

Sea Shepherd’s Bob Barker on the heels of the Nisshin Maru whaling vessel.Photo credit: Simon Ager

[quote style=”boxed”]“Japan’s confirmation that they will resume their whaling program is an insult to all of the anti-whaling nations that so generously contributed to the relief of the tsunami and earthquake victims,” said Sea Shepherd President and Founder Captain Paul Watson.[/quote] “They have accepted foreign aid to help the victims of that tragedy, and are now shifting funds to perpetuate this illegal and obscene massacre of defenseless whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” adds Captain Watson.

“It now seems they are simply obsessed with killing whales not for need or for profit, but because they believe they have the right to do and kill what they wish in an established international whale sanctuary, just for the sake of defending their misplaced ‘honor.’ It’s a disgrace and a smack in the face to everyone who stepped forward to help in their time of need,” says Watson.

Japan maintains that the whale hunts are for scientific research purposes, and their ships clearly display the word ‘research’ to promote their contention and ward off attention from wildlife conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd.

The whale hunts are allowed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as a research exception to the 1986 ban. However, there is widespread criticism regarding Japan’s manipulation of the law for commercial gain and the nation’s practices to gather IWC pro-whaling votes.

(See more: Harpoons & Hookers: 27 Nations Gather At Japan’s Pro-Whaling Conference)

Further, opponents consider the “research” claim  a flimsy cover for commercial whaling since the whale meat is often sold for consumption in Japan, even in lunches served to Japanese school children.

Reacting to the government’s claim of whaling for “scientific research,” Sea Shepherd has launched multiple Antarctic Whale Defense Campaigns to the Southern Ocean. Operation Divine Wind will be the eighth such operation with over 100 international volunteers working to save the whales from slaughter within the sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd’s 2010-2011 Operation No Compromise saved approximately 800 whales, and the organization continues to strengthen in support and influence. Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, First Officer on Sea Shepherd’s Bob Barker ship said, “If we don’t stop them, who will? We intend to stop them and we will stop them – that’s a promise.”

Given Sea Shepherd’s No Compromise track record, we at Global Animal are betting that Operation Divine Wind will, once and for all, blow whaling out of the water.

For the whales!

Read more about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society here:  

Sea Shepherd Departs For 2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign

Sea Shepherd’s Five Ways Of Changing The World

Whale Wars Won? Japanese Whaling May End Soon

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/sea-shepherd-activists-pr_n_823884.html