Saturday, December 24, 2005

ENV: An end to Japanese Whaling?

Group Claims to Scuttle Japanese Whaling
Environmental Group Sending Boats After Japanese Whaling Fleet

Claims to Force a Temporary Halt
By MIKE CORDER, The Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia - The captain of an environmentalist boat chasing Japanese whalers in the Antarctic claimed Sunday the Japanese had abandoned hunting for the day as they were chased by protesters through storm-tossed seas.

"I can assure you no whales are going to be killed today," Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat, told The Associated Press by satellite phone.

Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace protest ships have been chasing Japan's whaling fleet for days, hampering their hunt for 850 minke whales and 10 fin whales as part of the country's scientific research program, which is permitted as research under the rules of the International Whaling Commission.

Opponents call the research program a disguise for commercial whaling.

Calls to the Japanese Fisheries Agency in Tokyo went unanswered Sunday.

Watson claimed the Japanese ship Nisshin Maru came close to ramming the Farley Mowat during their encounter. The environmentalists then towed a mooring line through the water and the Japanese ship backed off to ensure the rope did not get tangled in its propellor, Watson said.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Carolin Wenzel said the group believes no whales had been killed in the past day because of strong winds in the region.