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Coast Guard Officers Confirmed on Japanese Whaling Ships

While watching the Today Show this morning the announcer declared that there has been an "escalation" by Japan with the announcement that Japanese Coast Guard officers are stationed with the Japanese whaling fleet.  So I decided to go find out more details about this so called escalation and this is what I found:

Japan‘s coast guard said Tuesday it has sent a team of officers to protect its whaling fleet against intensifying protests by environmentalists.

The whalers have repeatedly clashed with environmentalists in the Antarctic Ocean and halted the hunt two weeks ago.

"Coast guards are there with a view to protect human lives and assets as they have suffered damage at the hands of activists," Japan Coast Guard spokesman Takashi Matsumori said.

The last time the maritime police sent officers to a non-Coast Guard vessel outside Japanese waters was in 1992 when it protected a ship controversially bringing plutonium from France for nuclear power generation.

The whaling mission left a Japanese port in November. The Mainichi Shimbun daily said the guards departed later on a supply ship and joined the mission in December.

The Fisheries Agency requested Coast Guard protection as it was alarmed by militant environmentalists who hurled stink bombs at the whaling fleet in February 2006 during the previous mission, the Mainichi said. [AFP]

The Japanese Coast Guard officers have been with the whaling fleet since December to protect the whalers from the militant attacks from the eco-terrorist Sea Shepherd group, yet the Japanese are the one "escalating" the situation?  The Coast Guard officers are not going to have a whole lot to do anyway since the Greenpeace ship and the Sea Shepherd loons are all departing the Southern Ocean due to being low on fuel and leaving the Australian custom ship to monitor the Japanese whalers:

The Sea Shepherd environmental group says the Federal Government’s monitoring of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean is pointless unless the Customs ship Oceanic Viking is given the power to intervene when whales are being killed.

The Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Steve Irwin, is heading back to Melbourne to refuel but the Customs ship the Oceanic Viking is still in the region monitoring the fleet.

Greenpeace ship the Esperenza is also heading for port to refuel and Greenpeace says it has no plans to return to the Southern Ocean again this summer.

The Steve Irwin’s captain Paul Watson says there is no real point to the Oceanic Viking staying with the whaling fleet.

"The Australian Government vessel [Oceanic Viking] is still with the Japanese fleet but they’ll be leaving them in 10 days and of course they’re not really stopping them, they’re just taking pictures," he said.  [ABC News]

This just confirms what I have been saying over and over again that Australia’s claim over the Antarctic is dubious and they will not arrest the Japanese whalers because the Australian claim would not hold up in an international court.  The Oceanic Viking is out there solely to create the perception that the government is "doing something". 

So basically how this has all played out, is that Sea Shepherd got to become media heroes by assaulting Japanese whalers not to mention the increased funding they are sure to receive, Greenpeace likewise received a lot of media attention and probably increased funding as well, while the Australian government is credited with doing something with the Oceanic Viking taking pictures, and the Japanese will complete their whale hunt and go home.  Everybody wins while an international agreement to managing commercial whaling remains no where in the cards.

Further Reading:
Whaling is Not A Conservation Issue
The Clash Over Japanese Whaling

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