Sea Shepherd, a non-profit, marine conservation organization based in the U.S., announced what the international press called “a propaganda victory over Japan” after it bought one of Japan’s government newest anti-whaling vessel, apparently without the authorities’ knowledge.
Sea Shepherd made the acquisition through a U.S. company. The ship, called “Sam Simon” after the founding producer of The Simpsons TV series and a prominent animal rights campaigner, is worth $2 million (see video below). It was delivered to Australia by a Japanese crew.
Sea Shepherd has other four vessels which are expected to pursue Japanese whalers after they will leave for Antarctica this month. “We have four ships, one helicopter, drones and more than 120 volunteer crew ready to defend majestic whales from the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet,” said Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson.
Watson will join the group’s newest campaign, “Operation Zero Tolerance”, despite the fact that he failed to appear this year in court, in Germany.
Sea Shepherd has encountered Japan’s whalers across the Southern Ocean every winter since 2005. In February, the whaling crew had to come back to the Japanese port earlier than expected, with just one fifth of its planned catch, because of the encounter with the activists.
“The goal is to find the factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, and to pin the bow of this ship on the stern of that factory ship throughout the duration of the campaign, and send them home without any whales killed. We’re confident we can seriously impact their whale quota”, Sam Simon’s skipper Lockhart MacLean said.
A recent survey by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that almost 90% of Japanese had not bought whale meat in 2012.