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Schnews: Ships in the Fight

18.01.2010 15:24 | Ocean Defence | South Coast | World

Since Japanese whalers sliced Sea Shepherd vessel the Ady Gil in two last week, the marine conservationists have faced a propaganda onslaught accusing them of lying, polluting and preparing to attack the whalers with bows and arrows.

The Ady Gil, with the Bob Barker, had been chasing the Japanese fleet’s mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, away from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the Antarctic and had succeeded in bringing whaling operations to a standstill.

The confrontation began when activists hurled stink bombs of rancid butter onto the deck of the Nisshin Maru. The whalers responded by trying to force the Ady Gil away with high powered water canons. According to Captain Chuck Swift on the Bob Barker, harpoon ship the Shonan Maru No. 2 then started up suddenly and rammed the stationary Ady Gil, shearing off a eight foot section of the hull.

The six crew members were rescued by the Bob Barker, but the boat could not be saved. Despite the crew of the Bob Barker’s round the clock efforts it had taken on too much water and three days later had to be left to sink. Before abandoning , the crew boarded the boat and pumped out the fuel before it leaked into the sea.

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Despite video footage clearly showing the whaling ship tear into the Ady Gil, the whalers promptly fired up the propaganda machine with a statement from their PR company claiming not only had Sea Shepherd lied about the Ady Gil sinking, but also that they were polluting the environment with a fuel spill and, most bizarrely of all, that the crew had bows and arrows on board ready to launch a full on medieval assault on the whalers.

Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson dismissed the claims, made in a statement by Glen Inwood, as, “one of the most absurd media releases I have seen this clown issue in years.” In response to photos of bows and arrows floating next to the stricken boat Captain Watson said, “I suppose the only reason for this is that guns don’t float and he needed a ‘smoking gun’ but had to settle for a ‘floating arrow’.”

Unfortunately, the New Zealand government seems more than ready to believe that marine conservationists were preparing a pirate attack, Foreign Minister Murray McCully saying, “If they are going to go down there looking for trouble and determined to find it then there’s nothing we can do to stop them, except urge them to improve their conduct.”

Captain Watson responded to the comments saying, “Perhaps Murray McCully should review the video evidence before he fires off asinine statements half-cocked concerning issues he has not obviously been briefed on.”

Despite the loss, Sea Shepherd operations are up and running with the Bob Barker joining the Steve Irwin in pursuit of the Whaling fleet. Captain Paul Watson said, “We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating.”