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Japanese whaler rams and sinks anti-whaling vessel in Antartic

The film below shows the Japanese ship turning towards the Ady Gil prior to ramming.

Click to play film

Here is the Sea Shepherd's press release for Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Japanese Whalers Ram Sea Shepherd Ship Ady Gil

Famed trimaran is sinking in the Southern Ocean

Six crewmembers Rescued by the Sea Shepherd Ship Bob Barker

In an unprovoked attack captured on film, the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and caused catastrophic damage to the Sea Shepherd trimaran Ady Gil.

Six crew crewmembers, four from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from the Netherlands were immediately rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. None of the crew Ady Gil crew were injured.

The Ady Gil is believed to be sinking and chances of salvage are very grim. [Ed. It sank completely.]

According to eyewitness Captain Chuck Swift on the Bob Barker, the attack happened while the vessels were dead in the water. The Shonan Maru No. 2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off. According to Captain Swift, the vessel does not look like it will be saved.

“The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently,” said Captain Paul Watson. “If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken. We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating.”

Captain Paul Watson onboard the Steve Irwin is racing towards the area at 16 knots but still remains some five hundred miles to the north. The Bob Barker has temporarily stopped the pursuit of the Nisshin Maru to rescue the crew of the Ady Gil. The Japanese ships initially refused to acknowledge the May Day distress of the Ady Gil, but ultimately did acknowledge the call. Despite acknowledging the call, they did not offer to assist the Ady Gil or the Bob Barker in any way.

The incident took place at 64 Degrees and 03 Minutes South and 143 Degrees and 09 Minutes East

Until this morning the Japanese were completely unaware of the existence of the Bob Barker. This newest addition to the Sea Shepherd fleet left Mauritius off the coast of Africa on December 18th and was able to advance along the ice edge from the West as the Japanese were busy worrying about the advance of the Steve Irwin from the North.

“This is a substantial loss for our organization,” said Captain Watson. “The Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, represents a loss of almost two million dollars. However the loss of a single whale is of more importance to us and we will not lose the Ady Gil in vain. This blow simply strengthens our resolve, it does not weaken our spirit.”

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is requesting that the Australian government send a naval vessel to restore the peace in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. We have 77 crew from 16 nations on three vessels, six of them were on the Ady Gil. Of these, 21 are Australian citizens: 16 Australians on the Steve Irwin and five on the Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd believes that the Australian government has a responsibility to protect the lives of Australian citizens working to defend whales from illegal Japanese whaling activities.

“Australia needs to send a naval vessel down here as soon as possible to protect both the whales and the Australian citizens working to defend these whales,” said Steve Irwin Chief Cook Laura Dakin of Canberra. “This is Australian Antarctic Territorial waters and I see the Japanese whalers doing whatever they want with impunity down here without a single Australian government vessel anywhere to be found. Peter Garrett, I have one question for you: Where the bloody hell are you?”

Are Sea Shepherd's tactics appropriate?

On a web discussion on the ABC site the Moderator asked, on 23 Dec 2009 10:57:11am, "Are Sea Shepherd's tactics appropriate?"

Among the responses, Greg wrote: "Of course they are, no one else has the balls to do any thing. Especially our piss weak government."

That about sums up the situation, I think.

And it brings us back to the need to audit the Australian government and all the Australian states not yet audited, for their performance in protecting Australian wildlife, including whales, of course.

You cannot help but suspect that there is money in it for some people close to government

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Unprovoked attack, are you kidding me! Read your maritime rules and see who's in the wrong then get back to me.
Poor old whales, but Idiotic behavior at sea by protestors is as you know just a tool for drawing attention to the issue. Come on Sheila your losing cred with this sort of dopey justifications. Face it protestors have to find a new angle.

It wasn't me who called it 'unprovoked'; it was the media release I published - from SeaShepherd.
However the footage in one of the films shows the Japanese ship changing course to ram the smaller boat. True, sirens seemed to be ringing as the approached.
Yes, these tactics are meant to draw attention to what is happening, but if they didn't, who would ever know?
Please suggest what other approaches you think might be more effective.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist

The Japanese claim its a traditional right. So if they wish to continue this tradition, I say let them. So long as they only use traditional methods. Sailing ships, long boats & pointy sticks.

Subject was "Pirates" - JS

Have a look at the photos of the protestors, dressed in black, sporting pirate skull and crossbones and firing projectiles from something that looks like a rocket launcher held by one of them.

Got what they deserved.

Subject was 'censorship'. - JS

Why do you continue to change the posting titles in a way that is more in line with your arguments?

I'm done with this site, you don't practice what you preach.

Editorial Comment: Sometimes we change the titles for either or both of two reasons:

1. To give other site visitors a better idea of what the comment is about;

2. I find the views objectionable, such as applauding the thuggery of the Japanese whalers that could have caused the crew of the sunken Ady Gil to die in the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean.

Nothing has been censored. Everything you posted, including the original heading, has been published. We're happy to trust the judgement of other site visitors about the way we choose to present the totality of such comments.

In defence of whales from poaching, in light of an Australian Government roaring mouse complicit in its idleness, bring on concerted propeller wrapping of all Japanese vessels till they are immobilised. Old fishing nets with cabling would be effective, especially at night.

I am not in favour of labelling any defence action as "unprovoked".
Since once the Japanese rocked up to poach whales in the Southern Ocean they themselves provoked justifiable defence - all gloves off! Defence of whales and defence of Australia's territorial waters and declared whale sanctuary, justify not killing the poachers but immobilizing and disabling their 'capacity to poach'.

But Sea Shepherd is tinkering.

A few sunk Japanese ships would bring the issue to a head and get vacillating Chinilpa Rudd off his fence. He should show some leadership by working with NZ and Pacific Ocean nations to place a Oceania-wide moratorium on refuelling, servicing or supply of any Japanese vessel engaged in fishing, whaling research across Oceania. No fuel, no whaling! The whalers cost to run an alternative fuel ship would make their poaching adventure cost prohibitive. A similar ban should apply to Japanese seconding charter aircraft. These naval samurais would then skidaddle back to Japan with their swords between their legs.

But alas Ruddism (hollow popularism) typicallly acts contrary to Australia's best interests. He will do nothing until someone dies. Gillard is an other Rudd policy castrate, inactive and waiting for her boss to come home.

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885

How is it that whaling authorities, or 'spies', were allowed to hire Australian planes to spy on anti-whaling protest ships! Where are our border controls, our security forces?

Australia is a sovereign nation, one to be proud of and patriotic towards. However, we have leaders cowering to Japan's superior powers, and all their rhetoric about "legal options" and "diplomatic pressure" are just forms of procrastination, a smoke-screen for the public.

Before being elected, Kevin Rudd promised to monitor and make "surveillance of whaling vessels operation in Australian waters" and to "intercept vessels operating illegally in the Australian fishing zone". He should be held accountable to comply with his pre-election promises. Our leaders are showing traits abhorred by the Japanese - cowardice and surrender!

It is time we see some leadership from our Federal government and have Japan's illegal whaling fleet permanently removed from the Antarctic. Violence and military operations are illegal under the Antarctic Treaty, and so is interference to and killing of marine biodiversity.

Fortunately I have kept a letter from Kevin Rudd, MP, Leader of the Opposition dated 6th June, 2007, which I have included below. My comments are in parentheses.

Kevin Rudd wrote:

"I share your abhorrence of whaling. There is absolutely no justification for the slaughter of these amazing animals.

"Japan has killed more than 400 whales in Australian waters since 2000........including humpback whales, the mainstay of Australia's $300 million-a-year whale-watching industry."

"On 18th May 2007, Federal Labor announced a bold new approach to protect our whales , including commitments to:

  • Take Japan to international courts such as the International Court of Justice for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to end the slaughter of whales;(why more legal advice? just a smokescreen to fool the public)
  • Make formal representations to the Japanese authorities - at bilateral and multilateral meetings - about its practice of whaling (They actually asked Australia to protect them from eco-terrorists - such is the power of 'formal representations'!);
  • Enforce Australian law banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary; (Still waiting Kevin)
  • Monitor and surveillance of whaling vessels operating in Australian waters, and intercept vessels operating illegally in the Australian fishing zone (Where's the Oceanic Viking?);and
  • Establish a national network of whale and dolphin sanctuaries (Nothing done here either);
  • "Meanwhile, the Howard Government has demonstrated its lack of serious commitment to end whaling, refusing calls to monitor whalers operating in the Southern Ocean, and rejecting international legal action, including seven options put forward by the expert Sydney Legal Panel in May 2007.

    "Protecting whales - and preserving our $300 million-a-year whale-watching industry - requires more than the Howard government's hollow words and inaction.

    "Federal Labor will pursue a fresh approach to end whaling taking an international and domestic leadership role to protect these beautiful creatures".

    Kevin Rudd's promises and "fresh" and "bold" new approaches to end whaling sound more like the hollow and stale inaction of the Howard era - if not worse! Ignore promises, do nothing, depend on public apathy and pretend it isn't happening is more like it.

Head of the Australian whaling envoy, Sandy Holloway, is set to receive up to $200,000 for 100 days work, while a further $342,000 has already been spent on international travel by the former bureaucrat and his team as they travel the globe.

Mr Holloway's 'formal representations' to Japan, on a $1,800 a day retainer, were designed to fail and is really an expensive smokescreen to fool the Australian public. Such was the ambiguity of diplomatic pressure that Japan even asked Australia for help against the "eco-terrorists" upholding the laws in the Antarctic!

Public money is being wasted. Australia's Antarctic Territory, promises, policies, a $300 million whale-watching industry and domestic and international laws and Treaties are being abandoned in the face of Japan's economic powers.

It is becoming clear that some agreement has been made between Japan and Australia to prevent any "interference" in their whale slaughter.

This whale "research" is not about the need for the meat, but about securing their interests in the region, an open territory from their perspective.

Garrett should then resign. As Australia's Federal Environment et al Minister he is complicit in Rudd's hypocritical shenanigans. His pre-ministerial lobbying of governments to protect whales and wildlife has been demonstrated in government as hollow hyperbole.

Australians voted Garrett from popstar to polly in trust that he would live up to his public convictions. But since he gained office, his credibility has eroded.

Garrett's only saving grace would be to resign in protest, then seek re-election as an independent or Green. Why he chose to sell his soul for politican power and influence then succumb to Rudd decision-castration will be one for the Australia's political history books when Garrett ultimately steps down.

I still have time for Midnight Oil, but not a castrated Rudd puppet.

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885