Sea Shepherd members hurl bottle of rotten butter at a Japanese whaler, as the whaler fires water cannon back. Photo: Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, John via flickr.
Say what you like about their tactics, but the efforts of Sea Shepherd to harass Japan's whaling fleet in the waters off Antarctica have yielded big results. According to statements made to BBC News, the Japanese fleet returned to port with half as many whales as they set out to catch. The goal was for 50 humpback and 50 fins whales, but the fleet caught no humpback whales and one fin whale; of the 935 targeted Minke whales, 506 were killed. WATCH VIDEO - Reel Impact: Pirate For The Sea (Trailer)
Whalers cited "violent interference" and other clashes lasting 31 days with Sea Shepherd as "paralyzing" the hunt. Takashi Mori of Japan's Fisheries Ministry added, "The lack of samples could affect the accuracy of our research."
According to Sea Shepherd calculations, their efforts cost Japan's whaling fleeting about $132 million, as the average value of each whale is a quarter of a million dollars. The same estimates show that this season the fleet lost money, as 700 whales need to be killed to meet operating expenses.
Responding to the Fisheries Ministry statement, Sea Shepherd's Captain Paul Watson said,
We hit them long and hard this year and all our efforts and risks have paid off. There are now 528 whales swimming freely in the Southern Ocean that would now be dead if not for the fact that we intervened. It is a happy day for my crew and for conservationists worldwide, a happy day indeed.
As to the cost to Sea Shepherd, since the start of 2010 the organization has lost the Ady Gil and damaged the Bob Barker in collisions with whaling vessels. In addition, Captain Pete Bethune is now in Japanese custody after boarding a whaler in a harassment operation.
More on Whaling:
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Japan Kills Sea Shepherd Anti Whaling Ship. For Scientific Research?
Minke Whales Genetics Study Shows Faulty Logic in Japan's Pro-Whaling Argument