Japanese whalers killed fewest whales ever in 2013 Antarctic hunt

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  April 2013:

TOKYO––The Japanese whaling fleet in 2013 killed just 103 minke whales out of a self-assigned quota of 935,  and killed none of the 50 humpback and 50 fin whales they had hoped to kill,  acknowledged Japanese agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at a homecoming media conference. Hayashi blamed interference by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for the economic failure of the annual whaling expedition into Antarctic waters.  The oceans surrounding Antarctica are nominally an international whale sanctuary,  designated by the International Whaling Commission,  but Japan has never recognized the designation and the IWC has no enforcement mechanism. The Sea Shepherd fleet docked at Williamstown,  Australia on March 20,  2013,  without founder Paul Watson.  Arrested in Germany in May 2012 on a 10-year-old Costa Rican warrant that was issued after the Sea Shepherds intercepted a shark-finning vessel,  Watson jumped bail and fled Germany in July 2012, contending that the Costa Rican warrant was a ruse meant to deliver him to Japan.  Japan then issued an Interpol “red alert” for Watson’s arrest. This and a December 2012 injunction issued by a three-judge panel from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against “physically attacking” or closely approaching Japanese whalers have severely restricted Watson’s movements.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals followed up on February 27,  2013 by formally designating the Sea Shepherds “pirates.” Wrote chief judge Alex Kozinski,  “You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch.  When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid;  drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks;  and point high-powered lasers at other ships,  you are, without a doubt,  a pirate,  no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.” But Sea Shepherd videos made on February 20 and 25,  2013 showed the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru ramming the Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin and Bob Barker,  and it was the Japanese whale-catcher Shonan Maru #2 that on January 6,  2010 rammed the Ady Gil,  working with the Sea Shepherds, doing damage that eventually caused the Ady Gil to sink. The Sea Shepherds on March 21, 2013 asked the Netherlands Public Prosecutor’s Office to pursue charges against the captain and crew of the Nisshin Maru in connection with the February incidents.   “The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office has jurisdiction,”  said a Sea Shepherd media release,  “since the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker sail under the Dutch flag.”  A third Sea Shepherd vessel,  the Sam Simon,  was also hit and damaged by the Nisshin Maru,  the Sea Shepherds said,  but is not flagged to the Netherlands. Land-based hunters at Taiji,  Japan,  killed nearly 900 dolphins and pilot whales during the winter of 2012-2013,  and captured nearly 250 alive to sell to oceanariums and swim-with-dolphins facilities,  reported Earth Island Institute International Marine Mammal Project associate director Mark Palmer. Reviewing video of the slaughter included in the Academy Award-winning 2009 documentary The Cove,  researchers Andrew Butterworth,  Philippa Brakes,  Courtney S. Vail,  and Diana Reiss reported in a recent edition of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science that the killing method “does not conform to the recognized requirement for ‘immediate insensibility’ and would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.”

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