Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research are annoyed that they only killed half their quota in Minke whales (551) due to interference from two protest boats “Steve Irwin” from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the “Esperanza” from Greenpeace International. As well the Oceanic Viking sent by the Australian Government took video and photographic evidence of the whale slaughter, during which time the whaling ships had to curtail their activity. Naturally this would annoy the Japanese Government who fund the whale cull each year between January and April in the Australian Southern Atlantic Territory and potentially risk trade alliances between Australia and Japan.
On the 13th March, there was an exchange of projectiles when Steve Irwin made a port side pass of the Nisshin Maru. From their own video, it is clear that Coast Watch crew fired off a lobby of flare projectiles over the bridge of Steve Irwin. Then some of the Steve Irwin crew threw bottle grenades at the decks of Nisshin Maru, containing rancid butter, designed to slow whaling activity. The Japanese crew said that this was Butyric Acid which hit three crew members, which at the very least give an upset tummy, but this is open to debate as no crew member on either ship apparently required hospitalisation. Paul Watson and some other crew from Sea Shepherd had air rifle pellets removed from their coats, one of which superficially cut into Paul’s skin.
It is interesting to note the language used on the Cetacean Research website – “Escalation of Violent Attacks by Terrorists”, “Greenpeace risk lives doing dangerous publicity stunts”. Piracy Attacks. Whoa such strong language and quite blown out of proportion.
The whale debate now moves to Santiago, Chile where the International Whaling Commission has its annual meeting in June 2008. There is one new country which will definitely be supporting the anti-whaling lobby, and should help swing the vote AGAINST Japan continuing its whale cull for unnecessary research. However it remains to be seen if Japan continue to defy I.W.C directives, as they have done for years.