It is a humiliating defeat for the Japanese whaling fleet. The Japanese harpoon ship Yushin Maru #2 has been ordered to leave the Port of Surabaya, East Java in Indonesia without repairs. The Indonesian Forestry Authorities, the CITES Authorities and local government officials in East Java demanded the expulsion of the Yushin Maru #2 from Surabaya harbour and from Indonesian waters.
Thanks to a combined effort on the part of Jakarta Animal Aid, Earth Island Institute, The Green Party of Australia and Senator Bob Brown, Peter Tagliaferri, the Mayor of Fremantle, Western Australia, former Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell, the Indonesian Forestry Department and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the whaling industry has been struck a very costly blow.
This drama began on December 20th, 2008 when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin pursued the Yushin Maru #2 into dense ice packs off the coast of Antarctica. As a storm moved in, the Steve Irwin broke off the pursuit and headed South as the harpoon vessel kept running North into heavier ice conditions.
“I could see the danger coming as the ice began to push the floes tighter together,” said Captain Paul Watson of the Steve Irwin. “The harpoon vessel seemed more afraid of us at the time than of the ice, and we last saw them on a course directly into the thick of it.”
The result was ice damage to the propeller that reduced the speed of the harpoon vessel from 21 knots to only 7.5 knots. It took the whaling ship 16 days to travel 3,000 miles North to Surabaya to seek repairs. Although both New Zealand and Australia were much closer, the ports of the two countries are closed to Japanese whaling vessels.
Once in Surabaya, Jakarta Animal Aid organized demonstrations and meetings with officials. Captain Paul Watson called Femke Den Haas of Jakarta Animal Aid from the Steve Irwin to encourage and support their efforts. Femke said the officials in Indonesia simply needed to see evidence of Japan’s illegal whaling activities and evidence that Australia will not allow Japanese vessels to enter Australian ports for fuel or repairs. Three of the most passionate whale defending politicians in Australia responded immediately.
Former Australian Environment Minister and Sea Shepherd spokesperson Ian Campbell immediately wrote to the officials in Indonesia stating:
This communication is to provide you and the relevant authorities in the clearest possible terms that Australian law prohibits the entry to any Australian Port of Japanese Whaling vessels. This prohibition has been Australian law since the introduction of the moratorium on Whaling under the International Convention on Whaling. Japan has systematically breached this international agreement over the passed two decades, and successive Australian governments have banned these ships from our ports through special legislation and regulation.
I am happy for this advice to be forwarded to the Authorities. It can be confirmed with reference to an Australian Embassy.
The Honourable Ian G. Campbell
Australian Government Minister for the Environment (2004-2007)
Senator Bob Brown, the leader of the Australian Green Party sent the following:
The harpoon vessel (Yushin Maru #2) is seeking repair in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Clearly it would have been expedient for this ship to have entered an Australian port. However the risk of public hostility, and complete inability to have repairs carried out means an effective blockade on the Japanese whaling ship entering Australian or New Zealand ports.
The Indonesian authorities should ensure the ship is refused servicing in that country too.
Senator Bob Brown
Mayor Peter Tagliaferri of Fremantle, Australia sent the following letter to the Port officials and to Mayor Banbang Dwi Hartono of Surabaya.
I write to you as Mayor of the City of Fremantle, Western Australia.
The City of Fremantle does not support the illegal slaughter of whales and has constantly conveyed this through diplomatic processes to the Japanese government.
I believe the Yushin Maru #2 is seeking propeller repairs in your port as a result of ice damage.
The City of Fremantle would not support this vessel to enter our fishing boat harbour to seek repairs to continue an illegal activity.
I, as Mayor of the City of Fremantle, urge you to also not allow this vessel to be repaired in your port and as a result the Yushin Maru #2 will not be able to rejoin the illegal whaling.
Mayor of City of Fremantle
What Does This Mean?
The Yushin Maru # 2 has not killed any whales since at least December 20th and because of this decision in Surabaya, they will not be returning to the Southern Ocean very soon. This effectively reduces the killing power of the Japanese whaling fleet by a third leaving the Yushin Maru # 1 and Yushin Maru #3 as the two remaining harpoon boats.
“The decision to expel the Yushin Maru #2 from Surabaya saved a great many whales,” said Captain Paul Watson.
This loss of a harpoon vessel coupled with Sea Shepherd’s successful disruption of the whaling between December 20th and January 7th will have a significant impact on the kill figures. And when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin returns to disrupt the fleet for another month and a half, the impact will be even greater.
Sea Shepherd’s goal is to save as many whales as possible and to cost the whaling industry as much in profit losses as possible. So far the campaign has exceeded expectations. It is also very humiliating for Japan to have one of their ships literally kicked out of an Indonesian port after being barred from entering Australian and New Zealand ports for years.
It is not known where the Yushin Maru #2 is limping off to now as they seek repairs but we will be following them and we will be doing everything we can to delay their return to Antarctic waters. Sea Shepherd