December 2, 2008

Daryl Hannah Joins Controversial Anti-Whaling Activists

On Tuesday, actress Daryl Hannah joined anti-whaling activists to protest Japan's Antarctic whaling fleet.

Hannah previously criticized Greenpeace for opting out of the annual chase, started by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which followed the eight-ship fleet last year, bombarding it with stink bombs and briefly boarding a harpoon vessel.

The fleet departs Australia on Wednesday for the Southern Ocean.

Hannah will travel part-way on Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin. The 47 year-old actress starred in the 1980s films Blade Runner and Splash.

Sea Shepherd will be alone during this year's five-month hunt, in which the Japanese aim to cull close to 1,000 endangered fin and minke whales under an international loophole allowing scientific whaling for research.

During previous years, environmental watchdog Greenpeace has sent a ship in pursuit of the fleet, but lately the organization has criticized tactics favored by Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson.

Watson's ship has collided with the whalers in self-styled "pirate" protest actions during the past several trips.

"If Greenpeace would join forces with Sea Shepherd they would shutdown the whaling industry right away. If they were really serious and held their convictions they could accomplish this," Hannah said.

Greenpeace echoed Hannah's support for an end to whaling, but the organization said it would rather focus efforts on swaying public opinion in Japan, where whaling is regarded as a cherished tradition.

"We think the best place to win this campaign in is Japan," said Greenpeace Whales Campaigner Reece Turner.

Last month, Australia's government said it would not monitor the Japanese fleet this year with a fisheries patrol ship after protests from Tokyo last year. Environment Minister Peter Garrett denied diplomacy had blunted his opposition to the cull.

"What Mr. Garrett has done is say to Japan, you continue the slaughter, just stay out of Australian (Antarctic) waters," said conservative opposition politician Greg Hunt.

Tokyo is still Australia's largest export market worth A$24 billion in 2007-08, although China edged ahead as Canberra's main two-way partner with trade worth $41 billion.

Garrett has called Japan's whale hunt "barbaric", but Canberra has been reluctant to carry through with a threat of international legal action to stop the Japanese hunt since Japan and Australia are part of a three-way security pact, which includes the United States.

"We are extremely disappointed with the weak approach this government is taking on whaling," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia


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