Sea Shepherd Admits Setback In Battle Against Japanese Whaling Ships

A Sea Shepherd volunteer runs launching drills ahead of activities to disrupt Japanese whalers in 2016

Paul Watson, the founder of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, said Japan's threat to dispatch its military was unprecedented.

"We can not compete with their military-grade technology".

For instance, a USA court delivered an injunction a year ago against Sea Shepherd to keep its American branch of ships from coming within 500 yards of Japanese whalers. The Japanese government has described Sea Shepherd as "ecoterrorists" and sought to have Watson placed on an Interpol watchlist.

A water canon is sprayed from a Japanese whaling ship towards a small Sea Shepherd boat, about 480 km north of Mawson Peninsula off the coast of Antarctica, in this handout picture released on January 18, 2012. In January its ship Ocean Warrior caught a Japanese vessel with a dead whale on board in an Australian whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.

"For the first time ever, they have stated they may send their military to defend their illegal".

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ICR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Environmental activist group Sea Shepherd announced it is abandoning its annual anti-whaling activities in Antarctic waters due to increased use of sophisticated technology by Japanese whalers and lackluster support from the Australian government.

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"Instead of supporting Sea Shepherd the Australian government has been supporting the Japanese whalers by harassing Sea Shepherd and obstructing Sea Shepherd's ability to raise funds by denying our charitable status". The country's Ministry of Fisheries said the program is necessary to study the best methods of managing minke populations.

Japan continues to defy global protests to carry out what it calls scientific research whaling, having repeatedly said its ultimate goal is to whale commercially again.

Australia's Department for Environment and Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Sea Shepherd's statement.

The ocean-focused conservationist group has sent ships to harass and hinder Japanese whalers for the past 12 years, but in an announcement on its website says its resources can't compete with those of its opponents, who are backed by a "major economic super-power".

"It's our moral obligation to stand up to Japan and show that we will not stand idly by while vessels from that country slaughter these magnificent creatures", said Green Party leader James Shaw.

However, despite intense worldwide opposition to Japanese whaling, and polls showing few Japanese still regularly consume whale meat, the industry does appear to be weathering the storm.

Sea Shepherd again urged the Australian government to stand up to Japan's government.

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