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article imageJapan whale hunt halted by Sea Shepherd activists

By Kev Hedges     Feb 17, 2011 in Environment
A Japanese annual whale hunt in the Antarctic has been halted following weeks of harassment by Sea Shepherd activists. The fisheries official in Japan called the fleet back after concerns of serious injury or damage.
The whaling fleet, which was summoned back last Thursday, hoped to catch around 945 whales for "research activity" but following intimidation and "acts of sabotage" they have, for now, abandoned its hunt. Sea Shepherd activists were delighted, with its spokesman Grant Pereira saying, "Japan should have suspended the hunts ten, 15 years ago. It’s morally and legally wrong to kill whales."
Last week illegal whaling ship Nisshin Maru was seen in the middle of the Southern Ocean by activists. Sea Shepherd's vessel Gojira chased the ship through pack ice and managed to prevent the whalers from offloading dead whales back into the water, reports Australian Telegraph.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson explained its tactics at preventing the Japanese fleet are improving each year. This year he claims to have saved more whales than those that were killed. But he stressed it was a difficult battle saying, "They are beginning to get increasingly frustrated with us - they have retaliated with water cannons, special grenades and bamboo spears," he said.
"Confrontation is something we are very used to now. Every year we are getting stronger."
Donations from around the world have contributed to the organisation which was founded in 1977 and this has led to more equipment, more vessels and more manpower. The whalers, however claim they have been attacked by activists while carrying out "lawful" research in the South Seas. They have published images showing Gojira's black speed boat cutting across the whaling ships bow, firing flares and aiming lasers at the Japanese crew.
Commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1986 but allows an annual hunt by Japan for scientific purposes only. Environmentalists claim it is a cover for commercial whaling because parts not used for research are then sold on as meat.
More about Whale hunt, Japanese whaling, Sea Shepher, International whaling commission
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