Former Georgia Straight writer and animal-rights crusader Paul Watson is no longer captain of the SSS (Sea Shepherd Ship) Steve Irwin, but that hasn't slowed down the group's antiwhaling efforts.
According to a Sea Shepherd Society news release, the ship and its sister, the SSS Bob Barker, pursued a whaling-industry "factory ship" called the Nisshin Maru close to the coast of Antarctica directly south of India.
"The harpoon vessels Yushin Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3 are nearby but are not whaling," the Sea Shepherd Society stated. "All five ships are in the Cooperation Sea."
The Straight has previously reported that a Washington state court decision recent granted Japan's "Institute for Cetacean Research" an injunction stopping the Sea Shepherd Society from coming within 450 metres of any Japanese whaling vessel.That caused Watson to resign his official positions with the group, though he has been aboard the SSS Steve Irwin.
The Japanese government maintains that its ships are engaged in "research"—and this word is emblazoned across the hulls of the vessels. But Watson and his colleagues have never accepted that explanation, alleging that what's really happening is "poaching".
"The temperature is negative nine degrees centigrade, the sea around the ships is filled with numerous icebergs, and the winds are increasing," the society said in its latest news release. "Despite the bitter cold, the crews are in good spirits, the Steve Irwin having been at sea for 103 days since departing Melbourne on the 5th of November."
A third Sea Shepherd Society vessel, the SSS Sam Simon, is tailing a South Korean fuel tanker about 300 miles to the east. The society maintains that it would be illegal under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships to fuel another vessel unless it was "engaged in securing the safety of ships or in a search and rescue operation"—something that the Japanese whaling fleet clearly isn't doing.
“Back in September 2007, the up and coming Australian government stated that it had the guts to stand up to the whalers," Sea Shepherd Society co-campaign leader Bob Brown said in the news release. "Well, it’s been over five years now and if it were not for Sea Shepherd, over four thousand whales would have had their lives extinguished as a result of these cruel and barbaric poachers. Sea Shepherd is doing the work that the Australian people want to see done, they do not want to see Australia's whales being butchered by these whale poachers from Japan."
Crew aboard the SSS Bob Barker claimed that they observed the Yushin Maru No. 2 "illegally harpoon a whale at a position of 68°02' South, 75°44' E at 1753 on 15th February, deep in the Australian Antarctic Territory".