Officials with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) announce that Operation 'No Compromise' – this year's effort to stop the illegal Japanese whaling fleet from carrying out its mission in Antarctic waters – is officially over.
According to reports, this was the most successful campaign that the environmental organization has ever carried out against vessels sent near the South Pole by the Institute of Cetacean Research of Japan.
The ICR is an organization that masquerades as a research group. It hunts whales in the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary under an exception to a 1986 moratorium prohibiting whaling.
Officially, the Japanese say that the nearly 1,000 whales they try to kill each year are used for research, but SSCS and Greenpeace activists have demonstrated conclusively that the meat is in fact sold.
For several years now, the Sea Shepherd has taken a stand against this, sending expeditions to block the Japanese harpoon vessels and factory ship from killing their intended quota. This year's was very successful, says SSCS leader, Captain Paul Watson.
The conservationists caught up with the Japanese vessels just as the latter reached their target waters. Over the next months, the activists blocked whaling activity, to the extent that the Japanese only managed to collect several animals.
As the campaign ended, SSCS ships the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker made their way to the port of Hobart, in Tasmania. As expected, the Australian Federal Police was on hand to raid the ships.
This has been done over the past three years, at the request of the Japanese government. The crew on SSCS vessels is already used to this, and they have cooperated with the authorities fully.
Japan is also calling on Australia and New Zealand to shut down their ports for Sea Shepherd vessels, but authorities in the two countries are refusing, as no crime has been committed by the activists.
The conservation group says it's ready to take the fight to the Japanese whalers again at the end of 2011, when the whaling season begins anew.
“We will be prepared and we will be ready. Our objective is to defend the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” Paul Watson explains.
“We have done so since 2002, and we will continue to do so if there are any future threats to the sanctuary and the whales,” he concludes.