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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sea Shepherd Forces Japan to Suspend Illegal Whaling
SOUTHERN OCEAN - February 16 - Japan has reportedly suspended its annual whaling hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and is considering withdrawing from further poaching operations as a result of continous pressure from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, led by Captain Paul Watson. Sea Shepherd’s presence and direct action intervention in the Southern Ocean have thwarted the Japanese fleet in its illegal whale hunt for the last seven years.
Captain Watson is optimistic, yet remains cautious of what this suspension will entail, “I think it is premature to see this as a victory for the whales yet. There has been no mention of how long this suspension will be. It could be permanent, for this season only, or it could be for a matter of weeks or even days. What we do know is that the whalers will not be killing any whales for the next few weeks. Not because of any suspension, but because it is physically impossible for them to do so. It is also important to note that this is not a voluntary suspension; Sea Shepherd interventions have forced a closure to their illegal poaching activities.”
The Japanese factory ship the Nisshin Maru is now 2,000 miles east of the whaling area. They are being followed, blocking their slipway, and closely observed by Bob Barker Captain Alex Cornelissen and his crew. It initially appeared that the illegal whaling ship was heading into the Drake Passage, past Cape Horn below Chile and Argentina, and into the South Atlantic Ocean, but today it made an abrupt course change and is now heading due west at a reduced speed, presumably to rendezvous with its remaining harpoon vessels.
Longtime Sea Shepherd supporter, and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown released the following statement in response to this news, “The rapidly brightening prospects of Japan removing its whaling fleet from Antarctic waters will have Australians putting champagne on ice – coast to coast,” said Senator Bob Brown. “If the news is true it will be a terrific celebration when Sea Shepherd comes back to Hobart.”
During the 2009-2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda, Sea Shepherd's interventions saved 528 whales from being slaughtered, which is more than the Japanese whalers were able to kill, thereby reducing their self-appointed kill quota by more than half. During this year’s overwhelmingly successful campaign, Operation No Compromise, it is estimated that the whalers have only managed to take less than ten percent of their kill quota.
Sea Shepherd remains the only direct action wildlife conservation organization actively patrolling the world’s most remote waters to uphold international conservation laws. After the conclusion of Operation No Compromise, Sea Shepherd will announce its upcoming initiatives to defend international wildlife planned for launch in Summer 2011.
To interview Captain Paul Watson onboard the Steve Irwin: 1-954-672-3230 (US #)
To interview Captain Alex Cornelissen onboard the Bob Barker: 8816-5141-3455