News / Asia

Conservationists Pledge to Avoid Harming Japanese Whalers During Chase

The Nisshin Maru trying to outrun the Steve Irwin by going through heavy ice
The Nisshin Maru trying to outrun the Steve Irwin by going through heavy ice

A U.S.-based marine conservation group trying to scuttle Japan's annual whale hunt has pledged to avoid causing any harm to Japanese whalers as it chases them in waters off Antarctica.

Officials from several countries have urged the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Japanese whalers to avoid violence during the current whaling season. Sea Shepherd lost a speedboat last January in a collision with a Japanese vessel it was pursuing.

Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson told VOA Thursday that his organization is not doing anything violent and accused the Japanese whalers of trying to kill him and his fellow conservationists. He was speaking by telephone from the Steve Irwin, one of two Sea Shepherd vessels chasing Japan's Nisshin Maru  whaling ship in the Ross Sea.

Watson says the two vessels are trying to prevent the Nisshin Maru  from being refueled by a Panamanian-registered ship, the Sun Laurel. He says a third Sea Shepherd vessel, the Gojira, has left the Australian port of Hobart after being repaired and will join the chase in several days.

Japan kills hundreds of whales a year under an exemption to a 1986 global whaling ban, which permits hunting for research purposes. Anti-whaling groups say Japan uses research as a cover to obtain whale meat for domestic consumption.

The Steve Irwin caught up to the Nisshin Maru on Tuesday after a 26-day pursuit spanning more than 6,000 kilometers. Watson says the chase has prevented Japan's whalers from catching many whales by forcing the fleet to divert two harpoon boats to following Sea Shepherd's vessels.

Watson says the Japanese fleet has a quota of 935 minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales. He says the conservationists limited the fleet to catching just under half of its quota last season, and pledged to do "a lot better" this year.

An International Whaling Commission meeting last year ended without resolving a decades-long dispute between Tokyo and anti-whaling nations that criticize annual Japanese hunts as cruel and unnecessary.

U.S. diplomatic cables published by the WikiLeaks website earlier this month quoted Japanese officials as saying Sea Shepherd's harassment of the whalers was making it hard for Tokyo to compromise in IWC negotiations on the future of whaling.

Watson says more than two decades of diplomacy have failed to resolve the dispute and the only way to stop Japanese whalers is to widen their financial losses.

The WikiLeaks  documents said Japan urged the United States to take action against Sea Shepherd in November 2009. The documents quoted U.S. envoy to the IWC, Monica Medina, as telling Japanese officials that the Obama administration would consider revoking Sea Shepherd's tax-exempt status, based on what she called its "aggressive and harmful actions."

Watson says he has not heard of any plans by the U.S. government to revoke his group's tax status, a move he says would have no justification. But, he expressed concern about the comments attributed to Medina, saying it would be "illegal" for U.S. officials to penalize a U.S. organization at the request of a foreign government.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid