Sea Shepherd leader pursued by Japan, skips bail in Germany

Japan asked Germany to arrest Paul Watson, the founder of environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, days before he skipped bail and apparently fled the country.

The Japanese embassy in Berlin confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that it submitted its request to German authorities July 19.Three days later Watson — who was out on €250,000 $320,000 bail in Germany pending a separate extradition request from Costa Rica — last reported to authorities.

Read the rest of the story: Sea Shepherd leader pursued by Japan, skips bail in Germany.

Three anti-whaling demonstrators injured as Japan whalers use hooks

Three anti-whaling demonstrators have been injured after Japanese crew members threw grappling hooks and bamboo poles at them in a high seas clash, activist group Sea Shepherd said Wednesday.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which annually shadows and harasses the Japanese whaling fleet, said two activists were struck in the shoulder with iron hooks and one was hit twice in the face with a long bamboo pole.

The Yushin Maru No. 2 is tailing the Steve Irwin anti-whaling ship in the Southern Ocean and the incident happened about 300 nautical miles north of Mawson Peninsula in Antarctica, according to Sea Shepherd.

Read the rest of the story: Three injured as Japan whalers use hooks.

Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship damaged by Rogue Wave while chasing Japanese vessel

It’s that time of year again: whaling season. And for the past 25 years, whaling season has been accompanied by anti-whaling season.

The latest?  A boat – part of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group – was chasing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean when a large wave hit the “Brigitte Bardot,” disabling it.  Anti-whaling activists: 0, rogue wave: 1

The ship is being towed to safety today after being stranded off the coast of Australia. Though the conservation group is down a ship, the rogue wave did succeed in putting a spotlight on Japan’s annual whaling season and the activist effort to put an end to it.

Read the rest of the story: Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship damaged while chasing Japanese vessel.

Japan Funnels Almost $30 Million in Tsunami Funds to Whaling Hunt

Japan is spending 2.3 billion yen $29 million from its supplementary budget for tsunami reconstruction to fund the countrys annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic Ocean, a fisheries official confirmed Thursday.

Tatsuya Nakaoku, a Fisheries Agency official in charge of whaling, defended the move, saying the funding helps support Japans whaling industry as a whole, including some whaling towns along the devastated northeastern coast. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.

The budget request was made to beef up security and maintain the "stable operation" of Japans research whaling, he said, which has faced increasingly aggressive interference from boats with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Funnels Almost $30 Million in Tsunami Funds to Whaling Hunt.

Activist sees end to Japan’s Antarctic whale hunt

Prominent anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune believes the abrupt halt to Japan’s annual Antarctic hunt this week may signal an end to its whaling operations in southern waters.

Japan cited high-seas harassment by the US-based environmentalist group Sea Shepherd when it called its whaling fleet home early after killing 172 whales this season, about a fifth of its target.

Bethune, who spent five months detained by Japanese authorities last year, told AFP he doubted the Japanese would return.

"I believe this may be the last year in Antarctica," said the 45-year-old New Zealander, the captain of the Sea Shepherd speedboat Ady Gil which sank in icy waters following a collision with a Japanese whaler last year.

Bethune said Japan is a signatory to international maritime regulations governing vessels operating in Antarctica and will be bound by strict, new regulations on fuel types and hull construction, which take effect in August.

"I believe the Japanese may use these as a face-saving excuse to withdraw from Antarctica," he told AFP.

Read the rest of the story: Activist sees end to Japan’s Antarctic whale hunt.

Japan Cancelled Annual Whale Hunt

Conservationists were cautiously celebrating today after Japan announced it was suspending its annual whale hunt, claiming its fleet’s safety had been compromised by antiwhaling activists in the Antarctic.It isn’t clear if the order to stop whaling amounts to the beginning of the end of Japan’s annual mission to the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean. But it is the strongest sign yet that international criticism, direct action, and weak consumption of whale meat at home are having an impact.The official line, supported almost without dissent in the Japanese media, is that the actions of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, have put the crew’s safety at risk.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, fisheries agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku said the fleet’s mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, had been "harassed" by the Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker.The Japanese ship is now reported to be 2,000 nautical miles east of the hunting zone and heading towards Chilean waters in the Antarctic Ocean.Sea Shepherd, meanwhile, says this winter’s campaign has been its best yet. The fleet is thought to have caught only a small number of whales – between 30 and 100 by one estimate – since it arrived in the whaling grounds at the end of December.

Read the rest of the story: Is Sea Shepherds harassment helping to end Japan’s annual whale hunt?.

WikiLeaks show Australia and Japan in secret talks on whaling deal

Fairfax newspapers say documents obtained by WikiLeaks show Mr Garrett’s former chief of staff, David Williams, told the US Australia could accept a deal.

The agreement would have overturned the ban on commercial whaling, in return for Japan reducing its so-called scientific research program.

The deal had the backing of New Zealand and the US in the lead-up to International Whaling Commission talks in the middle of last year.

The documents also show Mr Garrett believed he was more committed to ending whaling than the Australian Government officials who were negotiating with Japan.

Mr Garrett’s office has been contacted for comment.

The latest US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also show Japanese and US officials discussed ways of reining in the militant anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd has been successful in hampering Japanese whalers during the annual Antarctic hunt.

The cables reveal the US envoy to the International Whaling Commission, Monica Medina, held talks with the head of Japan’s fisheries agency, Katsuhiro Machida, in late 2009.

Read the rest of the story: Australia, Japan in secret talks on whaling deal.

Activists and Whalers Clash in Southern Ocean

Militant anti-whalers Saturday said they had clashed with Japanese harpoonists in the Southern Ocean, chasing them through ice packs, throwing stink bombs at them and being hit with water cannon.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s vessels have been seeking to disrupt the Japanese whalers on their annual hunt in Antarctic waters since mid-December but had not been able to sight the Japanese fleet until Friday.

The society’s president, Paul Watson, said that now they had made contact with the whalers, they would attempt to prevent any of the giant sea creatures from being slaughtered.

"It’s got its water cannons turned onto us right now so we’re manoeuvring through ice and trying to outmanoeuvre them so it’s a little dicey," Watson told ABC Radio.

Locky MacLean, the captain of the Sea Shepherd’s ‘Gojira’ vessel, said the society’s three boats had been "dancing dangerously through the ice packs locked in confrontation with the three harpoon ships".

"It was both deadly and beautiful," he said in a statement on the society’s website. "Deadly because of the ice and the hostility of the whalers and beautiful because of the ice, and the fact that these three killer ships are not killing whales while clashing with us."

Read the rest of the story: Activists clash with Japan whalers in Southern Ocean.

Gojira ready to chase Japan’s whalers

ANTI-WHALING campaigners begin their Antarctic season today with a dilemma – the whalers are said to be still in Japan.

Sea Shepherd has overhauled its two existing ships and bought its first Australian-flagged vessel, the $1 million Gojira, to launch this summer’s campaign from Hobart.

The 90 activists will leave tonight to train off Tasmania before heading south, leader Paul Watson said.

Advertisement: Story continues below

Sea Shepherd’s Gojira. Photo: Eye in the Sky

However, Sea Shepherd members in Japan this week photographed the factory whaling ship Nisshin Maru docked at its home port of Innoshima and Greenpeace said there was no sign of it leaving.

The fleet usually departs by mid-November, but even if the main ship of the fleet left later this week it would probably not begin processing whales until January, Captain Watson said.

The Institute of Cetacean Research still plans to take up to 935 minkes and 50 fin whales, institute spokesman Glenn Inwood said.

Gojira (Japanese for ”Godzilla”) presents a potentially ticklish diplomatic problem for the Gillard government as the first Sea Shepherd vessel to be Australian flagged.

Tokyo persuaded other countries to strip Sea Shepherd of ship registrations because of its actions against the whalers. The Netherlands held out and still flags the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker.

Formerly the round-the-world-record-holding Ocean Adventurer, Gojira is twice the size of the sunken Ady Gil and faster than any of the whaling ships. It is expected to scout for the fleet ahead of the other two ships.

Read the rest of the story: ‘Godzilla’ ready to battle Japan’s tardy whalers.

Japan gives anti-whaling activists suspended sentences

A Japanese court has given two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists one-year suspended jail sentences for stealing a box of whale meat in 2008.

They admit taking the box but say they were trying to expose corrupt practices in Japan’s whaling programme, which the country insists is purely scientific.

Commercial whaling is banned worldwide.

Greenpeace says the sentences were "wholly disproportionate" as the defendants had acted "in the public interest and not for personal gain".

via Japan gives anti-whaling activists suspended sentences.