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Sea Shepherd ends Southern Ocean Mission

Sea Shepherd Global.

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen at Sea Shepherds 40th anniversary event in Perth Western Australia

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen at Sea Shepherds 40th anniversary event in Perth Western Australia

Jackson Lavell-Lee

Jackson Lavell-Lee

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen at Sea Shepherds 40th anniversary event in Perth Western Australia

Jackson Lavell-Lee, Ecu Reporter

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Anti-whaling and marine environment conservation organization Sea Shepherd has announced it will no longer fight Japanese whaling fleets in the Southern Ocean.

Founder Captain Paul Watson has accused the US, Australian and New Zealand governments of being “hostile” towards the environmentalists and colluding with the Japanese against his fleet.

The 12-year mission has met severe technological adversity in the last 12 months according to Sea Shepherd Australia media spokesperson Adam Burling.

Burling said Japan had developed a satellite intelligence system which would deliver surveillance and co-ordinates of the anti-whaling fleet to whalers.

Abandoning the popular mission is controversial, however. Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia Jeff Hansen said that the marine organization viewed the campaign as a win with Japanese whaling quotas reduced from 1,035 to 333 whales per year.

“Japan have changed the game. They have more than halved their kill quota and doubled their killing grounds, making it much harder for us to find them,” Hansen said.

“Even in our best years down there, sending all our fleet we would struggle to save any whales.

“By default, we’re saving over 700 whales per year because of the lower quota and the pressure we’ve applied.

“We had to ask our donors and supporters, do they want us to spend money and resources going down to Antartica when we’re not going to be saving any whales.”

In 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in the landmark case of Australia v. Japan that Japan’s Jarpa II whaling program in the Antarctic is not for scientific purposes.

The ICJ ordered that all permits under Jarpa II be revoked, making Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean illegal.

The Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae said in 2014, “I like whales and if you go out and see whales, there is no reason for us to kill this lovely animal but it’s history and politics.”

“Mainstream Japanese are not eating whale anymore,” he said.

Outside of the ICJ campaign, Australia invested $1.5 million to the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) Southern Ocean Research Partnership, to support non-lethal whale research in the Southern Ocean.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, said that no country had done more to end Japanese whaling than Australia.

“The Government has made representations at the highest level in Japan and we are working hard through the IWC to end any commercial or so-called ‘scientific’ whaling and promote whale conservation,”  Frydenberg said.

However, Japanese commercial whaling continues as it is a cultural, historical hunting practice in Japan.

The Sea Shepherd-led ICJ case was a groundbreaking win for international marine conservation yet there are other battlefronts.

“We have to make decisions, our oceans are running out of time and there are areas we want to look at more,” Hansen said.

Sea Shepherd has recently joined the stop Adani alliance and on Saturday announced they would take the pride of the Australian fleet, the SS Steve Irwin to the Great Barrier Reef.

“We want to do whatever we can to stop that massive coal mine which would be Australia’s biggest in history,” Hansen said.

The current Federal Government supports the proposed Adani mine and the concept of “clean coal” citing a boost for the Australian economy and creation of mining jobs.

“The decision by Sea Shepherd to cease its activities in the Southern Ocean is a matter for that organisation. The Government does not condone any actions at sea that might be considered dangerous, reckless or unlawful,” Frydenberg said.

This new position against the Australian government and Indian mining giant Adani may be deemed as illegal depending on Sea Shepherd’s actions.

The peaceful yet direct action organisation believes the destruction of an already heavily bleached Great Barrier Reef would cost Australia millions due to losing a major tourism attraction.

“We simply cannot expand the fossil fuel industry if we want to have a healthy climate in the future,” Hansen said.

“Our oceans are dying due to fossil fuels, ocean acidification, warming and the killing of our coral reefs.”

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Sea Shepherd ends Southern Ocean Mission