Sea Shepherd says that they have “engaged in their second confrontation” this season with Japanese whalers to prevent the ships from harpooning whales.
The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), organizer of Japan’s whaling missions, said that the conservation group attacked its ship by throwing ropes around the propellers and hurling glass bottles via “launchers” and “by hand.”
Sea Shepherd’s vessel Gojira, the Japanese name for Godzilla, sped up to ICR’s Yushin Maru-2 then activist crewmembers threw projectiles at the whaling boat.
On New Year’s Day, Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker attacked the whaling ship Yushin Maru-3.
No crewmembers were injured in the alleged attacks, which ICW captured on film and photographed. The photos depict a boat with “Gojira” on the side armed with slingshot-like launchers. ICW says that none of the projectiles hit its ship.
Japan’s whale-hunting missions have been sharply criticized by environmental and conservation groups, as well as by nations like New Zealand and Australia. The Japanese whaling group says that it is doing research and what it is doing is “perfectly legal.”
The ICW requested that the governments of Australia and New Zealand, where some of Shepherd’s ships are registered, get the group to stop the confrontations.
The Sea Shepherd says on its website that the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker have been pursuing ICW’s ships for several days.
Since New Year’s, “the two fleets have covered over a thousand miles as the whalers attempt to shake off the pursuing Sea Shepherd ships,” the group says.
“The two harpoon vessels have been neutralized as whalers, and the factory ship and the third harpoon vessel don’t have much time to stop and look for whales with Godzilla breathing down their backsides,” states the Shepherd’s website.
The Gojira speedboat has been used like a reconnaissance unit, gathering data on where the whaling ships are to disrupt its activities.
“They chase us, but the important thing is that we are all running, wasting away the miles, and buying time for the whales,” said Steve Irwin Capt. Paul Watson on the organization’s website. “Every day they don’t kill whales is a victory. We can sustain this running confrontation until the end of March, and the end of the whaling season if need be.”
In Feb. 2010, Sea Shepherd Capt. Peter Bethune was arrested by Japanese officials for charges including trespassing on a Japanese whaling ship after he boarded the Shonan Maru-2 to make a citizen's arrest of the ship's Japanese captain. Shonan Maru-2 had earlier rammed Bethune's ship, breaking it in two. After spending five months in a Tokyo jail awaiting sentencing, Bethune was deported back to New Zealand.