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article imageJapanese whaling fleet claims second attack by Sea Shepherd

By Paul Wallis     Jan 19, 2008 in Environment
The Japanese Whaling Association has accused environmental activist vessel Sea Shepherd of attacks throwing butyric acid on board its ships. According to the whalers, Sea Shepherd launched a zodiac boat which attacked their ship Yushin Maru No. 3.
Sister ship Yushin Maru No. 2 was previously attacked by Sea Shepherd using “stink bombs”, also butyric acid, which is a “butter acid”, foul smelling, designed to cause a stench for days. The two activists previously held by the Japanese fleet were from the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin.
The Japanese aren’t too happy. According to Radio New Zealand, President of the JWA, Keiichi Nakajima made these comments:
"These two violent pirates have been provided a first-class delivery service straight back to the Steve Irwin via Australian customs," he said in a statement.
"(The) government of Australia should have detained the two illegal intruders and held them on board the Oceanic Viking for investigation of their criminal activities, but it is obvious they would rather assist Sea Shepherd with its violent illegal actions against Japan's perfectly legal research program.
Strictly speaking, assault at sea is the same thing as assault on land. Technically, this is a form of assault, although a trivial form, not likely to cause injury.
Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson has defended the organisation's actions, saying it was a non-violent way of stopping whaling.
"We deployed a small boat and then we put about a dozen butyric acid bombs on the deck - those are stink bombs," he told the ABC
Available information seems to be coming in dribs and drabs from the area and what sources can be glued together.
The Daily Telegraph article includes some additional rhetoric. The Japanese are calling it terrorism, and demanding the Australian government seize the Steve Irwin, but in practice it’s fairly standard environmental protest. Sea Shepherd first made its name by ramming other vessels, so this is pretty mild, by its past standards.
The Sea Shepherd organization’s web site contains its version of its role:
“I did not establish the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a protest organization,” said Captain Watson. “I have not gone to sea over all these years to simply bear witness to the atrocities that whalers continue to inflict upon the most gentle and intelligent beings in the seas. We are sea cops—operating legally under the guidelines of the United Nation's World Charter for Nature, which allow for the enforcement of international conservation law by non-governmental organizations in international jurisdictions.”
The legalities are debatable, but the point isn’t. The Japanese whalers are facing an issue which their policy has been trying to avoid: The world doesn’t like whaling, and is prepared to do something about it.
More about Japanese whaling, Sea Shepherd, Environmental activism
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