Sea Shepherd Finds Japanese Whaling Fleet in Southern Ocean

yushin maru whaling japanese cetacean research sea shepherd
A whale tied to the side of the Japanese whale research vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 taken February 15, 2013. Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Activists with the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have located the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean setting the stage for what is sure to be another season of high seas drama and possibly violent confrontations in the remote Antarctic waters.

Sea Shepherd said its vessels, including its new Ocean Warrior, intercepted part of the Japanese whaling fleet Thursday night in the South Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

“The crews of the Ocean Warrior and The MV Steve Irwin have been battling through thick fog and ice to protect the whales in the Australian whale sanctuary,” said Captain Adam Meyerson, Captain of the Ocean Warrior. “The [Yushin harpoon ship] was hiding behind an iceberg and came out on a collision course.”

The organization said the Japanese whaling ship was located approximately 165 miles northeast of Australia’s Casey base, inside the Australian whale sanctuary.

“Sea Shepherd’s vessels are now on the hunt for the centerpiece of the illegal Japanese whaling fleet, the floating slaughterhouse known as the Nisshin Maru,” Sea Shepherd said in a statement.

“Finding one of the hunter killer ships hiding behind an iceberg in a thick fog means that the rest of the fleet is nearby. We all hope to have whaling in the Southern Ocean shut down by Christmas,” said Meyerson.

Sea Shepherd is currently on its 11th Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, named Operation Nemesis. This year the organization is equipped with a brand new, multi-million patrol ship that is faster and more capable than any ship Sea Shepherd has ever had in its fleet.

Sea Shepherd says this year the Japanese whaling fleet has set a quota of 333 Minke whales. Japanese whaling is conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research, which skirts an international moratorium on commercial whaling under a provision that allows whaling only for purposes of scientific research.