Japan whaling fleet leaves port for Antarctica

Dec 28, 2012
Japan's whaling research ship 'Nisshin Maru' is seen leaving from Innoshima island port in Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan, on December 28, 2012. Japanese whaling vessels left port bound for the Southern Ocean on their annual hunt for the huge marine mammals, according to a media report and Greenpeace.

Japanese whaling vessels left port Friday bound for the Southern Ocean on their annual hunt for the huge marine mammals, a media report and Greenpeace said.

Citing the Fisheries Agency, Kyodo News reported three vessels had departed from the far-western port of Shimonoseki, while environmental group Greenpeace said the 's mother ship had left another port, also in the country's west.

"The mother ship, Nisshin Maru, left Innoshima today," said Greenpeace Japan's executive director Junichi Sato.

"Today was virtually the last day when they could leave for the ," he said, adding that the fisheries agency had announced that the departure would take place within this month.

The mother ship would join the three vessels that left Shimonoseki earlier in the day, Kyodo said.

The fleet plans to hunt up to 935 Antarctic and up to 50 through March, the fisheries agency said earlier.

Japanese authorities refused to confirm either departure to AFP.

"We do not disclose when the vessels leave or left for safety reasons," an agency official said.

Pieces of whale sushi, made from sliced minke meats, blubber and rice balls, are seen at a sushi shop in Japanese whaling town Ayukawahama, Miyagi prefecture, on June 16, 2010. Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows killing the sea mammals for what it calls 'scientific research', although the meat is later sold openly in shops and restaurants.

Coastguard officers will be aboard the ships to cope with possible harassment from anti-whaling activists, the coastguard and fisheries agency officials said earlier this month.

The fleet's departure comes weeks later than expected and days after a US court ordered militant environmental group Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 yards (metres) from whaling vessels.

The injunction was ordered by the for the Ninth Circuit, in the latest step in a legal battle between the anti-whaling group and Japanese authorities over vessels in the Southern Ocean.

It said Sea Shepherd and Canadian militant Paul Watson, who is wanted by Interpol, "are enjoined from physically attacking any vessel engaged by plaintiffs", including Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research.

In addition, they are banned from "navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe navigation of any such vessel", said the order, issued on Monday.

"In no event shall defendants approach plaintiffs any closer than 500 yards (460 metres) when defendants are navigating on the open sea," it added. The joint plaintiffs are Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, Ltd., Tomoyuki Ogawa and Toshiyuki Miura.

This file image, obtained from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, shows Sea Shepherd crewmembers (R) gathering at the bow of their ship Bob Barker, looking out at the Japanese ship Nisshin Maru in the Southern Ocean, on February 9, 2011. Japanese whaling vessels left port on Friday, bound for the Southern Ocean on their annual hunt.

It follows the issuing in August of an arrest notice by Interpol for Watson, Sea Shepherd's founder, who jumped bail in Germany in July.

He had been arrested there on charges from Costa Rica relating to a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

In a statement on its website, Sea Shepherd called the new US court ruling "the first shot of the season" by Japanese whalers.

Confrontations between the whalers and activists have escalated in recent years, and the Japanese cut their hunt short in early 2011 due to Sea Shepherd harassment.

Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows killing the sea mammals for what it calls "scientific research", although the meat is later sold openly in shops and restaurants.

Watson, whose whereabouts had been a mystery since July, confirmed this month that he is back onboard a Sea Shepherd vessel and ready to confront Japanese whalers.

's ninth campaign, named Operation Zero Tolerance, is its largest ever against Japan's whale hunt and involves four ships, a helicopter, three drones and more than 100 crew members.

Three of the vessels, the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Brigitte Bardot, are all at sea while the Sam Simon is at an undisclosed location.

Explore further: Sheep flock to Eiffel Tower as French farmers cry wolf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anti-whalers, Japanese fleet fire water cannons

Feb 09, 2010

(AP) -- Activists vowing to stop the killing of whales exchanged water-cannon fire with a Japanese whaling fleet they are tailing in the Antarctic Ocean, as sea confrontations that have led to collisions ...

Japan to continue Antarctic whaling: farm minister

Oct 04, 2011

Japan will go ahead with its annual whale hunt in Antarctica while boosting security to guard against possible harassment by environmental protesters, the agriculture and fisheries minister said Tuesday.

Whalers, activists clash again in Antarctic waters

Feb 18, 2010

(AP) -- A group of conservationists threw bottles of butyric acid at Japanese whalers and blasted their ship with paint balls, while the Japanese fired water cannons in their latest Antarctic Ocean clash, ...

Japanese whalers hand over Australian activists

Jan 13, 2012

Three activists who boarded a Japanese whaling ship on the high seas were Friday successfully transferred to an Australian customs vessel after Tokyo agreed to release them without charge.

Recommended for you

User comments : 23

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PSz
3 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2012
"annual hunt for the huge marine mammals" sounds so proud and majestic. And I die a little inside.
Skepticus
1.7 / 5 (12) Dec 28, 2012
Time for another atomic bomb or two, a few more nuclear power plants melt down, or a few tsunamis like the last one to even the score. What have the whales have done to them to be persistently killed? As if they are poor people and have nothing else to eat. I will cheer loudly every time the Japs die like flies until they stop this barbaric, stupid practice!
Lurker2358
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 28, 2012
Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows killing the sea mammals for what it calls "scientific research", although the meat is later sold openly in shops and restaurants.


Would you prefer they kill the whales and not sell them at all? Or maybe make dog meat out of them?

What have the whales have done to them to be persistently killed?


It's no different than fishing for well, fish, crabs, shrimp, etc.

The whales probably die a quicker death than fish in most cases, when you think about it.

I bet your grand parents or great-grandparents ate whale meat, and used whale blubber as a fuel or lubricant at some time.

Fishing, hunting, and whaling are actually more efficient than farming, because they don't require constant input and maintenance, so long as they are managed properly.

For the record, I oppose fining or anything similar. I believe it's obvious for both moral and practical reasons that we should use all of what we catch or kill.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (8) Dec 28, 2012
Time for another atomic bomb or two, a few more nuclear power plants melt down, or a few tsunamis like the last one to even the score. What have the whales have done to them to be persistently killed? As if they are poor people and have nothing else to eat. I will cheer loudly every time the Japs die like flies until they stop this barbaric, stupid practice!


Please stay off our side...we don't need you.
dav_daddy
3 / 5 (10) Dec 28, 2012
Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows killing the sea mammals for what it calls "scientific research", although the meat is later sold openly in shops and restaurants.


Yep research has shown that for at least another year whales are still tasty.
Skepticus
2.6 / 5 (10) Dec 28, 2012
Would you prefer they kill the whales and not sell them at all? Or maybe make dog meat out of them?

I would prefer they stop killing the whales, period, no ifs, no buts.
It's no different than fishing for well, fish, crabs, shrimp, etc.

Yeah, if out-dated cultural tastes are equally perpetuated by lobbying cash and "sientific researches" for everyone on this planet, cannibals will say and do the same, too. It is a scientific fact that humans are more numerous than whales, breed quickly, and their proteins proprotions are an 100% match for humans' needs. What say you?
The whales probably die a quicker death than fish in most cases, when you think about it.

Having an explosive harpoon exploded in the gut is hardly a quick way to die. Gun-toting Americans will vouch for this gut shot.
Skepticus
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 28, 2012
I bet your grand parents or great-grandparents ate whale meat, and used whale blubber as a fuel or lubricant at some time.

I don't know about yours, but for the last few thousand years of my folks' recorded history they do not hunt whales. They buried the carcass when one is washed ashore, and built memorial over "Sir Fish (their nickname for whales)." No joke.
Fishing, hunting, and whaling are actually more efficient than farming, because they don't require constant input and maintenance, so long as they are managed properly.

Why should one has to sit down and talk of"managing properly", if over-exploitation is not a reality? People still think oceans' stocks are bountiful freebies. No care, no maintenance required, take all you want. It hasn't changed really. It's all feel-good saliva spewing sessions to prolong the free for all.
Skepticus
2.3 / 5 (9) Dec 28, 2012
Please stay off our side...we don't need
you.

Ha ha ha. I am a reasonable, peaceable guy most of the
time. But I believe vigorously there are certain thing that should be ruthlessly stamped out of existence. Nicety be damned! Cannibalism,pedophilia, whaling are a just few of those. People do murder and destruction everyday for much less, so i don't really give a flying F if you think i am an callous, unfit specimen of humans, when i just voiced my thoughts of wholesale retributions for wrongs.

There are so many categories of unneeded people from the different views, or agendas,of someone else accordingly; so thy holy moral judgment must had been read from Mose's 11th stone or the like.
Claudius
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 29, 2012
Hunting animals to extinction is abhorrent. Especially mammals with large brains and complex societies. If not abandoned, the Japanese policy of hunting whales and porpoises will make them pariahs.

Lurker2358
2.1 / 5 (11) Dec 29, 2012
Hunting animals to extinction is abhorrent. Especially mammals with large brains and complex societies. If not abandoned, the Japanese policy of hunting whales and porpoises will make them pariahs.


Ants have more complex societies. In fact, an ant colony is probably more complex than early human tribes. Maybe we shouldn't kill pest ants because they are intelligent.

I thought you evolutionist freaks believed whales and cows were cousins?

A significant number of animal species exist solely by consuming other animals.

Maybe you're suggesting we should wipe out all predatory species, since you are opposed to harming any life form?

Maybe we should eliminate herbivores as well; evil plant eaters...
C_elegans
3.1 / 5 (8) Dec 29, 2012
Evolution is cruel and heartless, I thought humanity was supposed to be better than that.

What else would be the point of free will?
Claudius
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 29, 2012
Evolution, cruel and heartless, has created all of the living beauty on this planet. The rabbit would not have such long ears and big hind legs, the fox would likewise not run as fast or have as good a sense of smell. Their sleekness and beauty would not exist but for the cruel and heartless nature of evolution. Predation is necessary.

We are part of nature, but since we have such great powers of destruction, should act responsibly. Part of the beauty of the natural world is its great diversity. Wiping out possibly sentient beings that are near extinction for the sake of sushi is one area where we should show restraint. The Japanese are acting shamefully.
Oysteroid
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 30, 2012
Skepticus:
Time for another atomic bomb or two. ... I will cheer loudly every time the Japs die like flies


You could (and should) have made your point shorter and simpler Skepticus: You are a filth. That's it.
Pkunk_
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 31, 2012
There are a lot of things you can admire the Japs for , but its things like these that make the blood of any decent person to boil with rage.
It is despicable the way they hunt these majestic creatures like they're vermin . Chasing down whales , harpooning them and killing them in cold blood. These are endangered animals and the Japs have no right hunting for them in Antarctic waters after eradicating them off their own waters.
This is not just a one off incident but part of Japanese govt. policy to kill as many whales as possible to keep the volk well fed on whale meat.
The Chinese did the same thing to their Tigers , hunted them to extinction for their teeth and other body parts and now the killing continues elsewhere in Asia.
IronhorseA
5 / 5 (1) Dec 31, 2012
I didn't see any mention of the sea shepard people having to be quiet, just 500 yards away. Perhaps a loud speaker just loud enough to be mildly uncomfortable to the whales would make them swim away from the speaker, and hopefully the whaling ships as well. Just a thought.
Pkunk_
5 / 5 (3) Dec 31, 2012
Ants have more complex societies. In fact, an ant colony is probably more complex than early human tribes. Maybe we shouldn't kill pest ants because they are intelligent.

The whale hunting ban isn't about intelligence, it's a simple case of math. There are 7.5 billion humans on the planet and we had hunted them to the point that multiple whale species had almost reached the point of extinction. On the other hand , ants outnumber humans by factors of magnitude.

The population of whales which had built up over millions of years were depleted within a 100 years of mechanized whaling.

Maybe you're suggesting we should wipe out all predatory species, since you are opposed to harming any life form?

The fact is proven in nature that any carnivorous species that hunts it's own prey to extinction soon follows in its victims footsteps because it knows only to hunt and is unable to cope with the lack of prey. Right now with whales the natural balance will take centuries to return.
Pkunk_
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 31, 2012
I didn't see any mention of the sea shepard people having to be quiet, just 500 yards away. Perhaps a loud speaker just loud enough to be mildly uncomfortable to the whales would make them swim away from the speaker, and hopefully the whaling ships as well. Just a thought.

Thats a good idea , probably an underwater sonic speaker which blasts out "Swim like hell" to the Whales would work.
On the other hand the Japs have no business hunting in the Whales natural habitat for animals who were almost made extinct.

Claudius said -
Wiping out possibly sentient beings that are near extinction for the sake of sushi is one area where we should show restraint. The Japanese are acting shamefully.

While the whaling ban was a pure by the numbers decision , I agree completely with your sentiment. There is much to like about Japan but a few assholes who can't give up medieval lust for whale meat with the consequences of mechanized whaling are bringing down scorn onto the entire nation
ValeriaT
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 31, 2012
global moratorium that allows killing the sea mammals for what it calls 'scientific research'
Are people imbeciles or what? Or whether some other endangered species like pandas can be killed for scientific research? Is it really so difficult to remove this "loophole" from moratorium and to sink every ship, which would violate it? That is not to say, other nations are acting better regarding the endangered species - but the lack of good will to stop the whaling at the international level is quite apparent here. This is all just a hypocrisies. If Iran can be boycotted for building of nuclear plants (which none international treaty actually prohibits) - why the Japan couldn't be sanctioned for its whaling at the international level?
cdt
2 / 5 (4) Jan 01, 2013
Those who make the sentimental argument against killing whales should try the same argument out on killing cows, pigs and chickens. The numbers argument may still hold there, but there's really no basis for having greater sentiment for whales than for pigs. It's simply a cultural bias -- something that Americans can be very slow to recognize and even slower to overcome.

While it's clear that whales were hunted to near extinction in the past, is the number of whales that Japan catches every year an unsustainable number? If so then the protests have some validity on that basis alone. If not, then it really all comes down to people in one culture having greater sentiment for certain animals than people in another culture. While I understand well how people adhere to their own culture, pretending there's anything absolute or correct about it is going one step too far.
ValeriaT
3.8 / 5 (5) Jan 01, 2013
should try the same argument out on killing cows, pigs and chickens
How did you come into it? It's not about numbers: the cows aren't endangered.
is the number of whales that Japan catches every year an unsustainable number?
Why just the Japan must catch whales - why not Chinese or Portuguese, for example? This is just a demonstration of national ruthlessness. All these nations did whaling in the past. And Chinese outnumber Japanese at least ten-times. They've rightful claim to ten-times higher number of whales.
cdt
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2013
A country will legitimately try to protect what is culturally and strategically important, and let go things that are not. Clearly whaling is important enough in Japan to be protected, and not important enough in China. If China were as insistent on catching whales as Japan is I'm sure there'd have to be a lot more fighting over numbers than there is. As it is, that's not an issue in the world we live in.

The claim that cows are not endangered IS an argument about numbers. Don't see how you missed that. I wasn't claiming there are no arguments against treating cows and whales alike. I claimed only that the sentimentalist argument doesn't favor saving whales from being killed over saving cows, so to be consistent anyone making only such an argument should similarly object to killing of all mammals, and possibly of all animals of any kind.
ValeriaT
2.4 / 5 (5) Jan 01, 2013
A country will legitimately try to protect what is culturally and strategically important, and let go things that are not.
I will think about it, when USA will decide to nuke Japan again for protection of what is cultural and strategically important for USA. The Japanese deserve punishment for looting of civilization treasures which belongs to all and this is my unshakable stance about it.
cdt
5 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2013
While I can understand your intransigence on the issue, I can't accept your willingness to obliterate millions of people just because you are incapable of seeing issues from more than one side. In my experience, unshakable stances are also largely unquestioned stances, usually rife with willful ignorance. Look beneath the publicly available rhetoric and think about what you find there and most people see that issues presented as black and white are anything but. Others simply refuse to acknowledge what they find, obstinately insisting that a life lived with their head stuck firmly in the sand --their sand, no less -- is the only right way to live. The choice is yours, of course. Just don't expect others to respect you regardless of the choice you make -- not all choices are equally respectable.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.