As reported on www.news.com.au
ANTI-whaling ship the Steve Irwin has been forced home 10 days before the end of the Japanese whaling season because it has run out of fuel.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society released a statement this morning saying they had just enough fuel for the ship to make it back to port..
“We have no alternative but to retreat from the Southern Ocean,” president of Sea Shepherd Paul Watson said.
“We have just enough fuel to make it back to port.
“We’ve done everything we can do down here for this season, and it has been an enormous success. I believe we have saved the lives of over 500 whales.”
Since departing Melbourne on February 14, the Steve Irwin has covered more than 6000 nautical miles chasing the Japanese fleet.
The majority of the chase took place inside the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters.
In total, the Steve Irwin pursued the Japanese whaling fleet for more than 3500 nautical miles.
The Nisshin Maru was tailed and harassed for more than 1800 of those miles.
Sea Shepherd can reliably report that no whales were killed during the 17-day period between February 23-March 10.
Added to the three weeks that Japanese whalers were prevented from killing whales in January, that brings it to a total of five-and-a-half weeks.
This was nearly half the whaling season.
“Our success will be reflected in the final kill figures,” first officer Peter Brown said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we have made a significant impact on their profits this season, and I am assuming they are not very happy.”
In response to the International Whaling Commission’s condemnation of Sea Shepherd’s interventions in the Southern Ocean, captain Watson said: “While they were in London talking about whales, we were down here actually protecting the whales.
“So they can condemn us until the cows come home, but I think we served our clients, the whales, as best we could, and every whale’s life saved has been a victory for us.
“We feel satisfied for the lives we have saved, and we feel remorse for the lives we were unable to save.
“The IWC members should feel ashamed for allowing Japan’s criminal poaching activities to continue.”
Sea Shepherd will work to secure a second ship to return to the Southern Ocean next season along with the Steve Irwin, although it is hoping that Japan will choose instead to withdraw from continued illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean.
“We don’t enjoy this conflict with the Japanese,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We do this to defend the whales, not to offend Japan, but if we are offending Japan by defending the whales, then that is the way it must be.”