Sea Shepherd to suspend pursuit of Japanese whalers

A minke whale is loaded on to the Japanese whaling factory ship the Nisshin Maru

The group said it needs to formulate a new plan and cultivate the resources and tactics to shut down the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd won't face-off with Japanese whalers this year, admitting it "cannot compete with their military grade technology".

Watson said his volunteer organisation could not compete with Japanese military satellite technology, which tracked Sea Shepherd in the ocean.

"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".

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.

The Sea Shepherd's pursuit of whaling vessels has also attracted criticism.

"This year Japan escalated their resistance with the passing of new anti-terrorism laws, some of which are specifically created to condemn Sea Shepherd tactics", he said.

Sea Shepherd's Captain Paul Watson.

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"The Green Party in government will take every reasonable measure to protect these handsome whales from being needlessly hunted down by Japanese vessels", said Mr Shaw. If this was an Australian corporation flouting our national laws the operatives would be arrested and jailed.

In response, Japan sent a Fisheries Agency patrol boat to accompany the whaling fleet.

The group has been confronting Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean since 2005, but now finds itself outgunned.

Australia took Japan to the global court of justice over its Southern Ocean whaling programme in 2014, winning a judgement that condemned Japan's whaling programmes as being in breach of the worldwide Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling.

Japan has continued to hunt whales, despite an International Whaling Commission moratorium that began in 1985.

Japan has previously sought to close down the anti-whaling campaigns in court, saying Sea Shepherd activists ram their ships, snare propellers with ropes and harass crew with paint and stink bombs.

That case, brought by Australia, found Japan's whaling permits were not for purposes of scientific research and instructed the country to halt its program. But it resumed in late 2015.

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