Japan says it will not lower its guard over its whaling even though its biggest foe – the Sea Shepherd conservation group – has said it will not send ships to disrupt its fleet this year.
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said on Monday the group’s limited resources made it difficult to compete with the military technology Japan employs to guard its whaling fleet and it would not send ships to the Southern Ocean this year.
The decision comes after Japan introduced new whaling laws in June that lock in public funding for its whaling program and allow government agencies to dispatch vessels to the Southern Ocean to disrupt the efforts of activists.
At the time, Attorney-General George Brandis said Australia would continue to fight for whale conservation and uphold the global moratorium on commercial whaling.
An official at Japan’s Fisheries Agency was sceptical of Sea Shepherd’s announcement.
“It’s not clear what the real intention of their statement is and we don’t know whether the organisation will stop its anti-whaling actions this year,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
Japan defies international protests to carry out what it calls scientific research whaling, having repeatedly said its ultimate goal is to whale commercially again.
In the 2016-2017 season, its fleet took 333 minke whales in the Antarctic.
“We can’t deny the possibility that other anti-whaling groups may take action, so we continue to closely monitor the situation and we’re not making any predictions,” the Japanese official said.
Watson said his group had discovered Japan…
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