Japanese Whaling Fleet On the Run With Two Sea Shepherd Hostages. The Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 has taken two Sea Shepherd volunteer crew members hostage. Benjamin Potts 28, an Australian citizen and Giles Lane, 35, a citizen of Great Britain are being held hostage onboard the whaling vessel. Both men were assaulted and then tied to the railings of the whaler. They were then moved and tied to the radar mast by the whalers.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ship Steve Irwin is in full pursuit of five vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet including the Japanese supply vessel Oriental Bluebird.
Both men boarded the Yushin Maru to deliver a message to the Japanese captain that the whalers were in violation of international conservation law by targeting endangered species in an established whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling. They also notified the captain that Australia had just passed a court ruling barring Japanese whalers from the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone.
All of this activity has taken place in the area of 60 Degrees South and 78 Degrees East. All activity has been documented from the Sea Shepherd helicopter and the fast moving Delta vessel. The Steve Irwin has dispatched a small fast Delta boat and a helicopter to attempt to persuade the Yushin Maru No. 2 to stop and release the hostages.
Captain Paul Watson has notified the Australian Federal Police that he would like to see kidnapping charges brought against the Japanese whalers. The Australian government and the British Embassy have been informed that their citizens are being held hostage on an illegally operated Japanese whaling ship in International waters.
The Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru has fled over 700 miles to the Northwest and is heading towards South Africa accompanied by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. The entire whaling fleet is on the run and outside of the whaling area with the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin in hot pursuit of five vessels of the Japanese fleet.
No whales have been slaughtered for the last four days and it does not look as if the whaling operations are going to begin again for another week at least, and not at all if the vessels are prevented from regrouping. The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has a good supply of fuel and can remain in the area for some time and will continue to police the illegal whaling operations by the Japanese fleet.
Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson will turn over authority to the Australian government to enforce the court ruling against illegal whaling in the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone upon request from the Australian government and an agreement that Australia will enforce the court’s ruling to bar all Japanese whaling activities in the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The text of the letter taken aboard:
To: The Captain of any Japanese ship involved with poaching operations in The Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.
My name is Giles David Lane
I am a British citizen and an unpaid volunteer on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin
I have come onboard your ship because you have refused to acknowledge communication from our ship pertaining to your illegal activities in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.
I am not boarding your ship with the intent to commit a crime, to rob you or to inflict injury upon your crew and yourself or damage to your ship. My reason for boarding is to deliver the message that you are in violation of international conservation law and in violation of the laws of Australia. It is my intent to deliver this message and then to request that you allow me to disembark from your vessel without harm or seizure.
I am empowered to act to uphold these laws in accordance with the United Nations World Charter for Nature and the laws of Australia.
I am boarding you with the request that you please refrain from any further criminal activity in these waters and cease and desist with the continued killing of endangered whales in this designated Whale Sanctuary in violation of the IWC global moratorium on commercial whaling and that you cease and desist in continued violations of Australian law by killing whales within the territorial waters of Australia without permit or permission from the government of Australia.
I am boarding you on the orders of Captain Paul Watson who requests that you treat me with respect and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
sea shepherd supporter
So, thinking that this is an appauling set of circumstances, I have written to the Japanese Embassy and Meg Munn MP of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to protest
Minister for Asia and the Pacific
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dear Meg Munn
Please accept this communication, copied to the Japanese Ambassador, expressing my concern at the assault of 2 men on a Japanese Whaling Ship. One of whom is a UK national. I hope you will be able to take measures to help bring about their release and look to you for any assistance that the UK government can offer.
I am grateful for your most urgent assistance.
I am writing to you to protest in the strongest possible terms the on taking of two hostages on board a Japanese Whaling Ship.
Press reports have suggested that the two men, (one of whom is a UK National Giles Lane), who peacefully boarded the Yushin Maru No. 2 to deliver a letter, they were assaulted and then tied up. Photographs show the two men being tied up to the ships superstructure outside and I am of course greatly concerned for their safety.
I request and demand that you intervene at once to ensure that these men are released and returned safely to their vessel as soon as possible. I also hope that your government will ensure that the captain and crew of the Yushin Maru No. 2 be called to account and prosecuted for their actions.