If Japan stops whaling, militants will target Europe

2014-03-31 18:54
The Yushin Maru #2 and Yushin Maru #3, part of the Japanese whaling fleet, with Sea Shepherd's Zodiac boat alongside during clashes in the Southern Ocean. (Barbara Veiga, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, AFP)

The Yushin Maru #2 and Yushin Maru #3, part of the Japanese whaling fleet, with Sea Shepherd's Zodiac boat alongside during clashes in the Southern Ocean. (Barbara Veiga, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, AFP)

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Washington - Environmental movement Sea Shepherd said on Monday it was ready to refocus its attention on stopping whaling by Norway and other European nations if Japan abides by a UN court order.

The US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which systematically harasses Japan's whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, hailed a decision by the International Court of Justice in The Hague that ordered Tokyo to halt its hunt.

Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson voiced doubt about Japan's pledges to comply with the ruling but said his group - which has become a thorn in Tokyo's side - would send its three-ship fleet to the Atlantic if Japan ended its practice.

"I'm not 100% convinced they will abide by the ruling. The tend to agree and then do whatever they want to do anyway; that has been the history with the International Whaling Commission," Watson told AFP in phone interview.

"Our ships will be prepared and ready to return if they return," Watson said. "And if they don't return, then we'll be able to refocus our efforts against Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese whaling."

Japan's government, while insisting that whale meat is part of its culinary heritage, has argued it is technically abiding by a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling by using a loophole that allows "lethal research" on the ocean giants.

Norway and Iceland openly defy the ban on commercial whaling, but Watson said that Sea Shepherd has not had the funding to support "a two-front battle."

Sea Shepherd has already carried out protests against whaling in the Faroe Islands, an autonomous province of Denmark, where residents traditionally kill pilot whales after driving them into small bays or fjords.

Watson credited Sea Shepherd's efforts with saving more than 5 000 whales since 2002 in the Southern Ocean, where Japan carried out its "scientific" expeditions even though the area was declared a whale sanctuary.

Australia had hauled Japan before the International Court of Justice in an effort to stop the hunt.

Read more on:    sea shepherd  |  norway  |  iceland  |  denmark  |  japan  |  marine life  |  conservation

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