Sunday, January 20, 2008

Marine conservation activists Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane were tied to the railing after they boarded a Japanese whaling ship.

Southern Ocean - Two anti-whaling campaigners and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew members boarded the Japanese whale slaughter factory ship, the Yushin Maru No. 2, earlier this week sparking an international incident. The two activists, Giles Lane, 35, of England, and Benjamin Potts, 28, of Australia, were held captive by the whalers for three days before being turned over to an Australian Customs ship in a compromise on Friday. Australia's Ocean Viking Customs ship promptly returned the two activists to their crew mates aboard the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin vessel. The Australian vessel was in the area to monitor and document the Japanese hunt, which targets endangered whale species for commercial purposes in violation of international treaties.

Another vessel in the area to bear witness to and document the whale slaughter is the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. Greenpeace has faced criticism for refusing to cooperate with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and share the location of whalers. Greenpeace campaign coordinator, Sara Holden, defended her group's decision not to assist the Sea Shepherd by saying that they believe Sea Shepherd promotes violence while her group follows a strict ethical code of non-violence. Sea Shepherd does not identify itself as a violent organization, and has damaged property in the past.

About an a hour after Potts and Lane were released, Sea Shepherd crew members threw ten bottles of butyric acid onto the deck of the whalers factory ship. The acid has an intensely fowl odor and, according to the Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson, "it's sort of like rotten butter and what that does is keeps them from working out on the deck for a number of days, so it's pretty hard for them to go out and harpoon a whale." The whalers have been unable to slaughter any whales in about ten days in large part because of the hostage situation.