When the sea conservation activist group Sea Shepherd added a new vessel to their anti-whaling fleet this week, they did so to the ire of both the Japanese government and the Japanese whaling industry. Though the Japanese government owned the ship and were overseeing its sale, they did not realize the buyer was the whaling industry's number one sea-faring nemesis, nor did they know the sale would put the number of ships in the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling fleet up to the same number of Japanese whaling ships heading for the Antarctic.
"The $2 million dollar vessel, which previously belonged to the country's meteorological agency, was bought from unsuspecting Japanese authorities by a US company, re-registered in the Pacific island of Tuvalu as the New Atlantis, and delivered to Australia by a Japanese crew," the Guardian reports today.
Locky Maclean, captain of the new ship, the SSS Sam Simon, stated Monday: “After months of secrecy, it is such a great feeling to finally be able to fly the Sea Shepherd flag from the main mast, and yes, Sea Shepherd now owns a real Japanese research ship!”
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson who has been on the run from Interpol since spring for what he maintains are politically motivated charges originating from the Japanese government, has recently returned to his fleet and has thus far managed to elude authorities.
He stated Tuesday that the group now has "four ships, one helicopter, drones and more than 120 volunteer crew from around the world ready to defend majestic whales from the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet."
"We're confident we can seriously impact their whale quota. This year all four of their harpoon ships are going to be tied up by our four ships, and the goal is that no harpooning can be done," MacLean added.
Sea Shepherd's Operation Zero Tolerance will seek out the Japanese whaling fleet once again and attempt to "chase it out of the Antarctic Treaty Zone without a single whale killed."
The group has had varying degrees of success in diverting industrial whaling in the Southern Ocean since 2005, and managed to send the Japanese whaling fleet home early last year with only one-fifth of its desired catch.