Showdown looms with Japanese whalers in Antarctic, activist warns
A potentially violent showdown is looming in the icy waters of the Antarctic between ship-borne activists and the Japanese whaling fleet, a conservationist warned yesterday.
Sea Shepherd president Paul Watson said in a satellite-telephone interview from his flagship, the Farley Mowat, that he would do all he could to prevent the Japanese killing whales, including ramming their ships.
Watson, who expects to encounter the Japanese fleet in the Southern Ocean within days, said the 54-metre Farley Mowat had been fitted with a ram that could slice into the hull of a whaler.
Asked whether he would be prepared to use it, Watson, 56, replied: าYeah, above the waterline, you know, enough damage to force them back to port.
าLast year I sideswiped the Oriental Bluebird supply vessel and drove them out of the area.ำ
The International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 but Japan has continued hunting for what it calls scientific research.
Critics reject this claim, and Japan makes no secret of the fact that the meat from the hunt winds up on dinner plates.
A fleet of six Japanese ships has been deployed to the Antarctic on an expedition to kill about 850 minke whales and 10 fin whales in this yearีs southern-hemisphere summer, the Japanese Fisheries Agency announced.
าWeีre not going down to protest whaling, weีre going down there to obstruct and harass and do everything we can to stop them from continuing to kill whales illegally,ำ Watson said.
าYeah, we sank half of Icelandีs whaling fleet in 1986, sank three Norwegian whalers, we sank two Spanish whalers. We were never charged with any crimes for this - they were all illegally operated.ำ