January 6, 2010

Environmentalist Boat Harmed In Clash With Japanese Whalers

A technologically advanced powerboat whose goal was to distract and irritate Japanese whalers sustained heavy damage in its first swim Wednesday, severely raising hostilities between the warring groups.

The Ady Gil trimaran was recruited by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists for this whaling season, and was inflicted with "catastrophic damage." The crew, who was launching stink bombs at the whalers, was not harmed and was picked up by Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker ship.

Activists explained that the crash was senseless, but Japan said that they group engaged in "extremely dangerous" actions.

"The Shonan Maru No.2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil, ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off," said a Sea Shepherd statement. "The Ady Gil is believed to be sinking and chances of salvage are very grim."

The Japanese Fisheries Agency retorted that the Ady Gil came close to the Shonan Maru No.2 and nearly came to a halt in front of the vessel.

"These acts of sabotage that threaten our country's whaling ships and crew were extremely dangerous," they wrote in a statement. "It is totally unforgivable."

Videos indicate that the powerboat and the Shonan Maru No.2 crashed while the whaling ship aimed their water cannons at the protesters.
"The Sea Shepherd extremism is becoming more violent... Their actions are nothing but felonious behavior," Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research wrote in a statement.

Paul Watson, captain of Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin ship, said the yearly hunt is developing into a "real whale war".

"The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently," he said to AFP. "If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken. We now have a real whale war on our hands and we have no intention of retreating."

Australia is not watching the rising circumstances but is urging both sides to behave properly.

"It's critical for safety at sea to be the highest priority and for absolute and utmost restraint to be exercised by all parties in this very remote and inhospitable region," Environment Minister Peter Garrett said.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an aggressive environmentalist group that focuses on "direct action" to stop whaling.

"When people call us pirates I don't really have a problem with that -- we're pirates of compassion in pursuit of pirates of profit," Watson said to the AFP in 2007.


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