After spending more than three months thwarting the deadly work of Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, crewmembers from Sea Shepherd have returned to port in New Zealand -- marking an end to what the group says was one of their most successful anti-whaling efforts yet.
According to Peter Hammarstedt, captain of the ship Bob Barker, disruption on the part of Sea Shepherd led to the whalers' failure to reach “even a quarter of their bogus self allocated quota” to capture and kill 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales and 50 endangered humpback whales.
“We are confident that this campaign - one of the most successful campaigns we’ve had to date in the Southern Ocean has led to more than 750 whales saved,” Hammarstedt told the New Zealand Herald.
Just as in years passed, tensions ran high between Sea Shepherd and whalers. The group reports that the Japanese crews were "very, very aggressive," repeatedly crossing across their bow dragging a long steel cable to keep them at bay. During one of those passes, says Hammarstedt, "the harpoon vessel collided with my ship, causing substantial damage to my starboard bow.''
"That collision is testament to the fact these whalers are thugs and common criminals," he says.
Despite an international moratorium on commercial whaling, the Japanese government continues to sponsor the killing of hundreds of whales every year under the guise of “scientific research." At one point this season, however, the whalers did directly violate New Zealand sovereignty by entering into the nation's waters -- though the action prompted only a mild rebuke from government leaders.
"It's also testament to the inaction of the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government to stop whaling, and the Sea Shepherd will continue to fill that law enforcement void... until we finally shut down whaling in the Southern Ocean," says Hammarstedt.