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The controversial marine conservation group Sea Shepherd will once again be sending vessels down to the South Ocean later this year despite an agreement to stop harassing Japanese whaling boats.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced the latest anti-whaling campaign on Tuesday, which the group has named Operation Nemesis “after the Greek goddess of inescapable justice,” said Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia. The campaign is the group’s eleventh Antarctic whale defense campaign.
Earlier this month, Sea Shepherd USA and its founder Paul Watson agreed to a mediation agreement reached in U.S. court with Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku, which conduct the whale hunts, prohibiting Sea Shepherd and Watson from “physically attacking” or approaching within 500 yards Japan’s whaling fleet, as well as prohibiting Sea Shepherd USA from funding activities that involve attacks on ships. Despite the settlement however, Sea Shepherd’s Australian arm vowed to not stop the annual protection campaign as the U.S. settlement has “no effect on Australian law,” said Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia.
Japan officially halted commercial whaling in 1987 in response to an international moratorium declared one year before, but it has used a loophole to continue whaling under the premise of scientific research, despite international criticism.
A ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in 2014 declared the Japanese Antarctic whaling program not scientific in nature, despite Japan’s claims to scientific research. After a one-year hiatus from whaling, the Japanese whaling fleet returned to the Southern Ocean last season and killed 333 Minke whales, according a Sea Shepherd.
“If we cannot stop whaling in an established whale sanctuary, in breach of both Australian Federal and International laws, then what hope do we have for the protection of the world’s oceans?” said Jeff Hansen. “We must make a stand and defend whales with everything we’ve got.”
For this upcoming campaign, Sea Shepherd will debut its new patrol vessel, Ocean Warrior, which was built by Damen Shipyards with financial support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the British People’s Postcode Lottery, and the Svenska PostkodLotteriet.
The group says the vessel is the fastest and most disruptive vessel ever in the Sea Shepherd Global fleet.
“For the first time we will have the speed to catch and outrun the Japanese harpoon ships, knowing speed can be the deciding factor when saving the lives of whales in the Southern Ocean,” says Sea Shepherd Global CEO Captain Alex Cornelissen.
According to Sea Shepherd, the Ocean Warrior will arrive in Australia at the end of this year to undergo the final preparations for the 2016/2017 campaign in the Antarctic.
“The international community has had two years to ensure Japan’s compliance with the International Court of Justice ruling,” said Captain Hammarstedt. “But at the end of the year, the Japanese whaling fleet will once against sail from Japan with whales in their harpoon sights.”
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