Sea Shepherd’s Operation: Waltzing Matilda Campaign Comes to an End
Yesterday, it was announced on the official Sea Shepherd blog that they are bringing this year’s whaling campaign to an end.
With one ship sunk and the Steve Irwin heading back to port, that only left the Bob Barker left to contend with the whalers. Fortunately, there were hardly any of the Japanese ships left to contend with. The Shonan Maru #2 is currently making its way to Japan, with Ady Gil Captain Pete Bethune held prisoner aboard the ship. The Yushin Maru #3 finally decided to come out of hiding on Wednesday and the Bob Barker was there to give them what for. Not only did they successfully engage the whaling ship, but the Bob Barker crew also managed to find and confiscate a number of illegal gill nets located throughout the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
There are 2 weeks left in the whaling season—hardly enough time for the whalers to reconvene and make up for all those lost kills. How many lost? According to the Sea Shepherd tally, about a month’s worth. There were 20 consecutive days this month when the Sea Shepherd crew prevented the Japanese whalers from being able to kill or process a single whale. Add on to that the 8 to 10 days the entire Japanese fleet hightailed it 2,500 miles to the west in January, plus the random days that severe weather prevented things from happening. That will definitely do some damage to their quota and industry this year.
The Bob Barker is also starting to make its way back to port. In a statement posted on their blog, Captain Paul Watson said:
“The Bob Barker has a fuel valve problem that has a potential to cause an engine breakdown. I can’t risk leaving the Bob Barker down on the coast of Antarctica without the Steve Irwin as back-up to assist. Therefore, I felt the safest thing to do was to end the campaign and recall the ship to port. Both ships have done an awesome job this year. We’ve hurt the Japanese whaling fleet more this year than any year before.”
While this may be the end of their whaling campaign, the work of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is far from over. The Steve Irwin will be heading for the Mediterranean on March 16th to fight poachers of the Bluefin Tuna. Oh, and if you’re worried about Captain Bethune, they plan on having some excellent legal defense waiting to aid him once he arrives in Japan. This campaign certainly had a lot of crazy moments, but for the whales sake it was all for the best. We can only hope that next year will be even better.
By Heidi Marshall