In December this year, the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd Global plans to send its vessels to the Southern Ocean on its 11th direct-action whale defense campaign.
Sea Shepherd said it will launch the campaign – Operation Nemesis – in order to defend, conserve and protect minke whales in the Southern Ocean’s designated whale sanctuary.
The move comes after 333 minke whales were killed in Japan’s latest Antarctic Ocean “research mission” earlier this year.
“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?” Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, said.
“We must make a stand and defend whales with everything we’ve got,” he added.
In December 2015, Japan sent its four-ship whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean, aiming at killing 333 whales for “scientific research purposes”, despite public disapproval of its whaling practices.
In 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague declared the Japanese whaling program in the Antarctic not scientific in nature, despite the country’s claims of hunting the whales for scientific research.
Moreover, the Japanese were also found in contempt of the Australian Federal Court for killing protected whales in the Australia Whale Sanctuary.
However, Japan later launched a revised research program which would see a total of 4,000 whales killed over the 12-year period.
“The international community has had two years to ensure Japan’s compliance with the International Court of Justice ruling. But at the end of the year, the Japanese whaling fleet will once against sail from Japan with whales in their harpoon sights,” Captain Peter Hammarstedt, Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia, said.
Disappointed by the lack of action from the international community, Sea Shepherd Global is preparing to deploy its new patrol vessel, the MV Ocean Warrior. The Ocean Warrior will arrive in Australia at the end of this year to undergo the final preparations for the 2016/2017 direct-action campaign.
“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,” Captain Alex Cornelissen, Sea Shepherd Global CEO, said.
The conservation society estimates it has already saved the lives of over 5,000 whales in the previous ten Antarctic campaigns.