Capt. Paul Watson declares victory after Japan decides to pull out of International Whaling Commission

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      Former Vancouver resident Paul Watson says it's good news that Japan will withdraw from an international body that regulates whale hunting.

      The government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says it is pulling out of the International Whaling Commission and will cease killing these animals in the Antarctic.

      Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has been confronting Japanese whaling ships since 2002.

      “We are delighted to see the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," Watson said in a society news release. "We are delighted that we will soon have a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary and we look forward to continuing to oppose the three remaining pirate whaling nations of Norway, Japan, and Iceland.

      "Whaling as a ‘legal’ industry has ended," Watson continued. "All that remains is to mop up the pirates.”

      Watson is a former Georgia Straight staff writer who ran for mayor of Vancouver in 1996 with the Green party.

      He believes that as a result of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society efforts, more than 6,000 whales were saved. 

      For years, Japan has been claiming that it has been hunting whales in the Southern Ocean for "research purposes".

      This has been vehemently disputed by Watson and others.

      Sea Shepherd Conservation Society staff often travelled off the coast of Antarctica to protect these animals.

      Watch this video showing a Japanese ship firing a water cannon at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Steve Irwin vessel.

      The society's actions forced the Japanese government to spend millions on security efforts, which made the cost of whaling far more expensive, according to Watson.

      Japan's looming withdrawal from the IWC clears the way for the commission to pass a motion creating a sanctuary, which could end whaling in the Southern Hemisphere. 

      According to a Reuters news report, Japan plans on resuming commercial whaling within its own territorial waters.

      Reuters pointed out that Abe represents a district that's home to the port of Shimoneseki, which has an active whaling industry.