20140105-TJW-Operation-Relentless-0404.jpg
 
 

THE NEXT STEP IN FIGHTING ILLEGAL WHALING

In 2008, the Australian Government sent their customs vessel, the M/V Oceanic Viking, to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to document the operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.

What they saw has been hidden from the public eye, until now.

130215-B-GL-005-BB-tries-to-stop-whale-loaded-on-Nisshin-CFL-CFL_0388.jpg

THE ISSUE

Despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, Japan has been killing whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of “scientific research” since 1987.

In 2008, the Federal Court of Australia deemed Japan’s whaling illegal, yet despite this, their whaling fleet headed south that year without any prosecution from the Australian Government.

In 2014, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand took the Government of Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands where their Southern Ocean Whale hunt was deemed illegal.

The Japanese Government continues to send their whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean each Austral summer, with a redesigned program and self-imposed quota to kill 333 protected Minke whales each year.

002-TW-Icebergs-140109.jpg

WHALE SANCTUARY

Cape Adare in east Antarctica. Taken from the M/Y Steve Irwin during Operation Relentless in 2014-2015 when patrolling the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Cape Adare in east Antarctica. Taken from the M/Y Steve Irwin during Operation Relentless in 2014-2015 when patrolling the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Antarctica is the highest, driest, windiest and coldest continent in the world. 

Covered almost entirely by an ice sheet, hiding a landscape of valleys, mountains and plains, temperatures have bone-chillingly dropped to - 89.2 degrees Celsius – the lowest ever recorded temperature on the planet.

Due to the frigid conditions, thousands of glaciers extend into the sea. 

On the coast, great pieces of ice break away and drift as icebergs. During winter, the surrounding sea freezes for hundreds of kilometres.

During Antarctic Whale Defence Campaigns, Sea Shepherd ships have always needed to be extra vigilant for icebergs such as this massive beauty when cautiously sailing through the icy Southern Ocean. This was taken during Operation Nemesis in 2016-17.

During Antarctic Whale Defence Campaigns, Sea Shepherd ships have always needed to be extra vigilant for icebergs such as this massive beauty when cautiously sailing through the icy Southern Ocean. This was taken during Operation Nemesis in 2016-17.

The seas are cold. Temperatures vary from around −2 to 10 degrees Celsius, and it is stormy. Cyclonic storms travel east around Antarctica, intensifying because of the temperature contrast between ice, the open ocean and the lack of landmass to act as a windbreak. 

The strongest winds ever recorded anywhere on earth have blown through the Sanctuary, which creates some of the largest waves – averaging between 20-30 feet – in the world. 

Marine wildlife is abundant in the area. Antarctic krill is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and it is krill that attracts most whales to the region.

Most whales of the Southern Ocean migrate to warmer waters for the Antarctic winter to give birth. 

From the deck of the M/Y Steve Irwin, a large swell kicks up during a fierce storm in the Southern Ocean. Waves around the continent of Antarctica can reach up to 20-30 metres with cyclonic-force winds. Antarctica is truly one of the world’s last great wildernesses.

From the deck of the M/Y Steve Irwin, a large swell kicks up during a fierce storm in the Southern Ocean. Waves around the continent of Antarctica can reach up to 20-30 metres with cyclonic-force winds. Antarctica is truly one of the world’s last great wildernesses.

They return south in the Austral spring, to rich feeding grounds, and remain in the safe haven that is the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary throughout the summer.

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is an area of 50 million square kilometres surrounding the entire continent of Antarctica where the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has banned all types of commercial whaling. 

Despite a ban on all whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Japan’s Whale Research Program continues to hunt Minke whales in the Sanctuary.

Grey.jpg

WHALE DEFENCE CAMPAIGNS

Since Sea Shepherd embarked on its first whale defence campaign,
over 6000 whales have been saved from Japan’s deadly harpoons.


2002 Campaign Logo.png

2002-2003
First CAMPAIGN

SHIP: M/Y Farley mowat

Led by Captain Paul Watson, the crew of the Farley Mowat set out to hunt down the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and in doing so exposed Japan’s JARPA II Whaling Program’s illegal activities to the world.

The whalers were able to change plans and avoid Sea Shepherd but in doing so Sea Shepherd learned a valuable lesson: aerial surveillance increases the chance of success when tracking the Japanese whaling fleet. 


2. Antarctica 2005.png

2005-2006
antarctica

SHIP: M/Y FARLEY MOWAT

Sea Shepherd’s second campaign to oppose illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean saw the M/Y Farley Mowat, Captained by Paul Watson, pursue the Japanese whaling fleet for six weeks.

The whaling fleet was located on December 22 and fled from their chase. On Christmas Day, the Japanese factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, was intercepted by Sea Shepherd and fled as a result.

The chase continued into January 2006, covering over 3000 miles along the Antarctic coast. On January 8, the Farley Mowat once again approached the Nisshin Maru and deployed defensive lines. The ship stopped its whaling activities and fled.

Throughout the campaign, the Farley Mowat completed a 50-day voyage covering 8,500 miles and the Japanese whaling fleet was disrupted for 15 days and prevented from achieving their quota.

 

3. Leviathan.png

2006-2007
Operation Leviathan

SHIPS: M/Y Farley Mowat & the M/Y Robert Hunter                               

The first Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign to involve two ships, the M/V Farley Mowat, and the M/Y Robert Hunter, a Hughes 300 helicopter (called the Kookaburra). 56 crew members represented 14 different countries.

The Japanese whaling fleet set out to kill 935 Minke whales and 50 Fin whales, but Sea Shepherd gave chase for five weeks and for thousands of nautical miles. The fleet was intercepted on February 9 and February 12, which severely disrupted  operations and saved the lives of hundreds of whales

 

4. Migaloo.png

2007-2008
Operation migaloo

SHIP: The M/Y Steve Irwin 

In a controversial tactic, two Sea Shepherd crew boarded a Japanese harpoon ship and were detained for three days before eventually being released. The Japanese Coast Guard threw concussion grenades and fired upon the Sea Shepherd crew of the newly named M/Y Steve Irwin. The campaign concluded with over 500 whales saved and the Japanese whaling fleet suffered huge financial losses.

Operation Migaloo was the first campaign to be documented by a film crew from Animal Planet who chronicled the campaign for the television series Whale Wars for seven seasons. 

 

5. Musashi.jpg

2008-2009
Operation musashi

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin

Operation Musashi began when the M/Y Steve Irwin departed Brisbane, with an international volunteer crew of 48, and headed for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Steve Irwin chased the Japanese whaling fleet  for 3,200-miles severely disrupting the hunt and saving over 300 whales.  

 

6. Waltzing Matilda.png

2009-2010
op. waltzing matilda

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, and the Ady Gil

A fleet of three vessels set out on Operation Waltzing Matilda in January 2010. During the campaign, the Japanese harpoon vessel, the Shonan Maru No. 2, deliberately rammed and consequently sunk the Ady Gil.

For three weeks straight, not a single whale was killed.

Operation Waltzing Matilda saved the lives of 528 whales and cost the Japanese government tens of millions of dollars. 

 

7. No Compromise.png

2010-2011
operation no compromise

Ships: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, and The Gojira

We sailed three vessels for Operation No Compromise, the M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, and the newest vessel to the fleet, The Gojira. Our interventions forced the Japanese whaling fleet to suspend their operations and leave the Southern Ocean early, directly saving 863 whales

 

8. Divine Wind.png

2011-2102
operation divine wind

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, and the Brigitte Bardot

During Operation Divine Wind, Sea Shepherd’s eighth Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign, the Brigitte Bardot, Sea Shepherd’s newest vessel, was damaged when a rogue wave hit the pontoon and was forced to return to port early for repairs.

Even with just two ships, and some of the worst weather Sea Shepherd crew ever experienced in eight seasons in Antarctica, the Japanese whaling fleet was still forced to go home early saving 768 whales. 

 

9. Zero Tolerance.png

2012-2013
op. zero tolerance

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, the M/Y Brigitte Bardot, and the M/Y Sam Simon

Operation Zero Tolerance was our largest campaign with more than 120 crew from 20 nations on board four vessels: the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, Brigitte Bardot, and the newest vessel to the fleet, the M/Y Sam Simon.

The Japanese whalers escalated their attacks on our crew and three of our ships were damaged after being rammed multiple times by the 8,000 tonne Nisshin Maru. Our crew also endured ongoing attacks by concussion grenades and were hit with high-powered water cannons.

Despite all the hardships thrown our way, and spending more than 4 months at sea, we returned home knowing that without us hundreds of whales would have been illegally slaughtered. 

 

10. Relentless.png

2013-2014
operation relentless

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Bob Barker, and the M/V Sam Simon

During Operation Relentless we located the Japanese factory vessel, the Nisshin Maru, on a record four separate occasions.

The whaling fleet’s operations were severely hampered by our continued pursuit, which included twice exposing the whalers in the process of butchering protected Minke whales, poached from the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. 

 

11. Nemesis.png

2016-2017
Operation Nemesis

SHIPS: The M/Y Steve Irwin, the M/Y Ocean Warrior

Our flagship vessel, the M/Y Steve Irwin, with Captain Wyanda Lublink and 35 crew from six countries was joined by our newest patrol vessel, M/Y Ocean Warrior, with Captain Adam Meyerson and 14 crew from eight countries, to once again stop the Japanese whaling fleet from illegally slaughtering whales in an internationally-recognised whale sanctuary under the guise of “scientific research”. 

The Japanese whaling fleet took three solid months to kill 333 whales. This averages out to 111 whales killed per month compared to 345 whales killed per month prior to Sea Shepherd’s involvement. 

 
Grey.jpg

TAKE ACTION

 
333_Website.jpg
 

Read from Allysha Bianco of Sea Shepherd On-shore Volunteer from Brisbane who wants her Member of Parliament, Peter Dutton, our Border & Protection Minister, to use his political power to defend the whales. 

I am an avid lover of the ocean and all marine life. Many people are, and yet, many people don’t realise the threat the whole ecosystem is under due to Japanese whaling. I am passionate about defending and protecting whales because of the role these beautiful creatures play in the environment.

To disrupt and poach these animals creates an unbalanced habitat will not only affect marine life but also all of humankind. Without the existence of whales, the entire world’s ecosystem would see a huge negative shift. Everyone and everything would be affected by this change.

When I first watched the Australian Customs whaling footage, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted. Not just from the fact that the video itself was confronting and distressing, but because of how the government can sit back and let this happen after nine years of keeping this video from being publicly released.

The footage depicts the Japanese whale poachers chasing Minke whales in the Southern Ocean. The Minke whales swam for their lives until they became so exhausted that they were then easily and brutally harpooned by the Japanese whalers. To see an animal that is supposedly protected by law, and yet killed in its own habitat, saddens me. It makes me feel helpless to the injustice that is occurring in our very own waters. 

I have been with Sea Shepherd as an on-shore volunteer for just over one year. In that time, I have been involved in Sea Shepherd events, including our Stand Fast Festival last October, and various markets around Brisbane.

I would like my electorate member of parliament, Peter Dutton, to fulfil his responsibilities and political obligations. There should be an ongoing pressure towards Japan to comply with its international obligations. Japan must be confronted on the issue without our Australian Government being so afraid of stirring the pot and impacting its international relations.

Peter Dutton, along with cabinet members, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Prime Minister should put forward the illegal activities of Japanese whaling. The Government already has the political power to defend these whales.

We should not be solely relied on to defend whales when we could put money and resources into other campaigns around the world.

To reinforce this change, there must be stronger political pressure from society to continue the fight for the oceans, for there will be no change if we stay silent.


Allysha Bianco
Sea Shepherd On-shore Volunteer
Brisbane

Grey.jpg

ABOUT US

Sea Shepherd is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

logo-JR-white-on-black-thick-TEXT-120x90.png

Sea Shepherd Australia                                                            Sea Shepherd Global

2 Ann Street                                                                                   52 Alexander Boersstraat
Williamstown, Victoria 3016                                                    1071 KZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
TEL: 1300 OCEANS (+61 1300 623 267)                                 Tel: +31 20 233 7701
www.seashepherd.org.au                                                         www.seashepherdglobal.org
E: australia@seashepherd.org.au                                           E: info@seashepherdglobal.org