January 5, 2009

Sea Shepherd Activist Group Abandons Anti-Whaling Campaign

Sea Shepherd, an anti-whaling group, has been forced to abandon its chase of a Japanese whaling fleet to refuel its ship.

According to Paul Watson, founder of the U.S. group, the Sea Shepherd team would return to its pursuit in the Antarctic after refueling its ship, the Steve Irwin, in a nearby port.

Watson added that the two-week operation had been successful in lowering the number of whales killed by the Japanese.

Despite an international freeze on whaling since 1986, Japan continues to make annual hunts to capture 900 whales.  Although Japan justifies the action by claiming "scientific" purposes, much of the whale meat is believed to end up for sale in markets.

"We have engaged them, we have stopped their whaling activities for two weeks and we have successfully chased them out of the Australian Antarctic territorial waters," Watson said.

"We now have to return to land to refuel. We don't have the luxury of refueling at sea like the Japanese fleet has."

The Steve Irwin and crew have chased the Japanese fleet for two weeks, and nearly 2,000 miles from the Commonwealth Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory, to the Ross Sea.

Australia claims the territory around the Antarctic, but Japan says they are only operating in international waters.

Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which operates the hunt, has accused the Sea Shepherd group of "eco-terrorism" and endangering their crew and vessels. 

Watson denies the allegations, although Sea Shepherd has employed tactics such as pelting Japanese ships with rotten butter, methyl cellulose, and dye mixtures.


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