Japan’s whaling fleet killed less than one third of the animals it planned this season, due primarily to sabotage by activists. They killed 266 minke whales and one fin whale, much less than the 900-whale goal they set out with.
“The catch was smaller than planned due to factors including weather conditions and sabotage acts by activists,” an Fisheries Agency official said. “There were definitely sabotage campaigns behind the figure.”
Well-known activist group Sea Shepherd pursued the Japanese fleet for much of the season, throwing stink bombs at the boats and using ropes to entangle the propellers. The whalers retaliated with a water cannon. Harassment like this causes the fleet to head home early in the 2010-2011 season, killing only 172 whales.
Sea Shepherd claimed the whalers’ small haul was a victory for them.
“The Japanese were definitely much more aggressive,” said captain Paul Watson. “We had 12 confrontations with the Steve Irwin but no-one was injured on either side.
Watson explained that “they used water cannons, and they threw concussion grenades at us, and bamboo spears and grappling hooks and we hit them back with stink bombs and smoke bombs.” He continued to say that they chased the fleet for three months over 17,000 miles of ocean.
According to Sea Shepherd, the Japanese whaling fleet needed to reach 80 percent of their quota just to break even. Thanks to the efforts of environmentalists, they only reached 26 percent.
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC