From Sea Shepherd
The Japanese whaling fleet has left the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and they are heading home. “Once Captain Peter Hammerstedt and his crew on the Bob Barker closed in on the Nisshin Maru on March 5th, the whaling season was effectively over for the season,” said Captain Paul Watson on the Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin recently returned and now berthed in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia.
Since March 1st, the Bob Barker has followed the Nisshin Maru as they headed steadily northwestward. The Japanese harpoon vessels have stopped tailing the Bob Barker. The fleet has left the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, according to Captain Peter Hammarstedt. The Japanese government security vessel, Shonan Maru #2, has been spotted by fishing vessels at thirty degrees South, which is due east of Brisbane, Australia indicating that the vessel is well on its way back to Japan.
It has been a long and difficult campaign and although handicapped by the temporary loss of the scout vessel the Brigitte Bardot, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker were able to chase the Japanese whaling fleet for more than 17,000 miles, giving them little time to kill whales. In addition, two of the three harpoon vessels spent more time tailing the two Sea Shepherd ships than killing whales.
“The kill figures will not be released by Japan until April, but in my opinion they will not get over 50% for certain and my prediction is it will not be above 30%. Not as good as last season, but much better than all the previous years.” Said Captain Paul Watson. “It has been a successful campaign. There are hundreds of whales swimming free in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary that would now be dead if we had not been down there for the last three months. That makes us very happy indeed."
The Bob Barker will return to Hobart, Tasmania, the Brigitte Bardot is completing repairs in Fremantle, and the Steve Irwin is now berthed in Williamstown.
In December 2012, if the Japanese whaling fleet returns to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will launch Operation Cetacean Justice with four ships, two helicopters, four UAV (drones), and 120 volunteers.
“If the Japanese whalers return, Sea Shepherd will return. We are committed to the defense of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.” Said Captain Paul Watson. “No matter how long it takes, no matter how risky or expensive. The word “sanctuary” actually means something to us and that something is worth fighting for.”