|Nisshin Maru: slip-slidin' away...|
late for a second year in a row, but underway nonetheless. Under the laughable title of research, Japan is off on its merry little whale jaunt in Antarctica's Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. SANCTUARY!!!
The monster factory ship Nisshin Maru set sail yesterday, without any farewell ceremony or prior notice of departure as has been the case in recent years. She was accompanied by two fast hunter/killer vessels and Shonan Maru 2 (yes, the very same one that rammed Ady Gil). What's interesting about SM2 is that it's been repainted in the Japanese Fisheries Agency colour of white...could she be playing the role of the much-trumpeted strong-arm "patrol vessel"?
The loophole they jump through is known as JARPA II (or the 2nd. phase of the Japanese Whale Research Programme under Special Permit in the Antarctic). JARPA II focuses on Antarctic minke, humpback and fin whales...with provision to blast away at anything else that blithely swims into the wrong place at the wrong time. This "special permit" to kill...er...undertake research via 'lethal sampling'...in a whale sanctuary was issued TO Japan BY Japan, after the vast majority of the world said "thou shalt not kill whales commercially" 25 years ago, and Japan replied with 'the bird'...
|Shonan Maru 2: playing "policeman"...?|
So it'll take the whalers the best part of a month to reach their happy hunting grounds, and by that stage there'll no doubt be an oil tanker from some dubious source also en route to top up their tanks for the weeks ahead. SS vessels will also be converging, for what promises to be a season of escalated tensions, actions and reactions...
+ ...meanwhile in Japan, citizens' groups and non-governmental organisations have urged their government to undertake a full review of whaling. They've criticised the allocation of money in its special EQ Recovery Budget for whaling.