December 27, 2011
Animal Rights Group Uses Drones To Track Down Japanese Whalers
A group of infamously aggressive whale-hunting opponents say that they have tracked down and photographed hunters participating in Japan´s annual Antarctic whale hunt using an unpiloted drone aircraft to spot their ship.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said it was able to locate the Japanese ship the Nisshin Maru off the western coast of Australia over the weekend using the unmanned aircraft.
Their plans to harass the whaling expedition were temporarily foiled, however, when several other Japanese ships accompanying the Nisshin formed a protective barrier around the whaling ship, allowing it to flee the avid anti-whalers.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson told Reuters that they had located the Japanese whalers west of Perth and that they were not about to give up on their mission.
“For the next few days we will be chasing them. We are heading south,” said Watson.
According to Watson, the Sea Shepherd´s three vessels were all stationed outside Antarctic waters when they spotted the Japanese whaling ship with the drones. The three ships then waited to ambush the whalers after obtaining information from fishermen that the Japanese ship had made its way through the Lombok Strait in Indonesia and was headed south towards the Antarctic.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has gained the opprobrium of both the world media and a number of governments in recent years on account of their sometimes violent efforts to directly intervene to stop the Japanese whale hunt.
Yet despite almost universal criticism, the group has managed to gain the support of a small number of wealthy donors. Watson stated that it was supporters of the group in New Jersey who financed the two drones, both of which are equipped with hi-tech cameras and detection equipment, making it possible for the Sea Shepherd to track the Japanese whalers from the sky.
“This year we´re sitting for a full, complete victory in the sense that no whales will be killed and that´s our mission,” Jeff Hansen, a member of the Sea Shepherd society, told abc.net.au reporters.
“We´ve intercepted the fleet before they´ve even entered the whale sanctuary, which means that they haven't killed any whales. Now all we have to do is simply get on the stern of that factory vessel and basically block them.”
Although an international moratorium on whaling has been in effect since 1986, Japanese whalers continue to make use of a loophole that permits whaling for scientific purposes.
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