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Jan. 6 2010 - 11:39 am | 801 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Japanese whalers ram Sea Shepherd boat in Southern Ocean (video)

UPDATED with new video from Sea Shepherd, showing the Japanese ship turning toward the trimaran to ram it:

The whale wars are on again in the Southern Ocean off of Australia. One member of the Sea Shepherd crew was injured in this collision with the Japanese Whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2, with cracked ribs, according to Capt. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The anti-whaling activists are in the black trimaran Ady Gil, which I’m tempted to call the Batmoboat. The Japanese released this video earlier this morning, saying it proves the Sea Shepherd boat was not rammed:

The moment of irony is provided by Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who said,“We condemn any dangerous or violent activity that takes place in the Southern Oceans, and we call on all parties to exercise absolute restraint because safety at sea is the number one priority.”

Right. Whaling is dangerous and violent activity, and isn’t Sea Shepherd there to guarantee safety at sea for whales?

Whale hunting was banned by a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium, which Japan has sought to overturn each year. Japan continues to kill about 900 minke and fin whales per year in what it calls a “scientific whaling program.” Most of the resulting whale meat is sold on the Japanese market.

Each year Sea Shepherd harasses Japanese whaling ships, putting inflatable boats between their harpoons and the whales, firing stink bombs at them made of rancid butter. The whalers respond with sirens, water cannon and sound cannon, as well as the occasional collision.


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    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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