The Yushin Maru and two other whaling vessels leave the port of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on 7 December 2013 for Japan’s annual winter slaughter in the Antarctic Ocean. Photo: KYODO

SHIMONOSEKI, YAMAGUCHI PREF., 7 December 2013 (KYODO) – Three ships have left Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to join the mother vessel Nisshin Maru and hunt up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and 50 fin whales through March.

The Fisheries Agency had kept secret the departure date of the whaling fleet as a precaution against obstruction by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose activities are expected to be monitored by a Japanese surveillance ship.

During the last season, the whalers killed 103 Antarctic minke whales, the smallest catch since Japan began what it calls “research whaling” in 1987, due to Sea Shepherd’s activities and bad weather.

Environmentalists have condemned Japan’s annual hunts in the Antarctic Ocean as a cover for commercial whaling.

Japan's research whaling fleet leaves for Antarctic


Sea Shepherd ships the Bob Barker and Steve Irwin block fuelling attempts on the whaling fleet's factory vessel, the Nisshin Maru. Photo: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd Australia

7 December 2013 (SSCS) – The Japanese Whale Poaching Fleet has left Japan, setting sail for the Australian Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. The factory vessel, the Nisshin Maru left Innoshima Port today and the refuelling vessel, the Sun Laurel, left just days prior. The harpoon ships no longer have their AIS  (Automatic Identification System) on and it appears that they are underway as well.

Japan is not waiting for the International Court Case result.

Their mission is to brutally kill 1,035 whales, comprising of 935 protected Minke, 50 endangered Fin and 50 Humpback whales.

They plan to break Australian Federal law banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

Sea Shepherd's mission is to intercept the poachers from Japan before a single whale is killed and restore the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Australian scientists recently tracked a Minke Whale from the Great Barrier Reef deep into the Sub antarctic for the first time. A tracking program on Dwarf Minke Whales, the focus of growing reef tourism, followed a Minke nicknamed 'Spot' deep into the Southern Ocean before its tag expired.

"What is clear is that whales like 'Spot' that call Australia home, that Australians and tourists from all over the world have experienced and eyeballed in the Great Barrier Reef, face imminent threat from a grenade tipped harpoon from Japan. The only hope that whales like Spot have is the brave crews of Sea Shepherd." - Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia.

"The Japanese whaling fleet is likely to arrive in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary before the New Year. I expect to celebrate New Year's Eve on the slipway of the whaling factory ship, after completely shutting down their illegal whaling operations." - Peter Hammarstedt, Captain of The Bob Barker.

“December 7th is the day that the floating slaughter house - the Nisshin Maru chose to sail from its home port bound for the Australian EEZ and Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to conduct it's bloody business. The factory ship and its killing ships will have their phony mission of  "RESEARCH" painted on their sides. We will meet the illegal poachers ship for ship with our true mission of "ANTI-POACHING" proudly emblazoned on the Sam Simon's hull. We will not and can not fail in our mission to prevent this atrocity from happening; Australia, the world and most of all, the whales are counting on us, “ - Sam Simon Captain Adam Meyerson.

"Once again the Japanese Whaling Fleet shows complete disregard for the international community, because despite the pending ruling at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Institute for Cetacean Research will once again attempt to kill over 1,000 whales. For the tenth year, Sea Shepherd will be the only form of defence for the whales." - Alex Cornelissen, Global Executive Officer, Sea Shepherd.

"The Japanese whaling fleet's departure for the Southern Ocean is once again in the face of international opposition, a pending International Court of Justice ruling and in violation of Australia's Federal Court order. The only thing that stands between their illegal slaughter and the whales are three Sea Shepherd ships. With legality, morality and public opinion on our side, we will soon depart from Australia to meet the whale poachers off the ice edge of Antarctica and we will not return until we drive the Nisshin Maru out of the Whale Sanctuary." - The Steve Irwin Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty.

Sea Shepherd Australia has informed the Minister for the Environment, The Hon. Greg Hunt, that the whale poachers are on their way.

We have 23 nationalities, from every continent, represented on board including: United Kingdom, Ireland, Bermuda, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, United States, Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, India, Ghana, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Each year Japan has been escalating their violence not only against the whales, but also against Sea Shepherd’s international crew. With no repercussions from the Australian Government, Japan has effectively been given a green light to do what ever it wants with no respect for life.

Over 100 crew (37 are Australian) consisting of 23 nationalities are counting on the Abbott Government to live up to their pre-election promise and send a customs vessel to the Southern Ocean.

The time for the Australian Government to send a vessel is now!

Japanese killing fleet sets sail for the Australian Antarctic Whale Sanctuary

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