- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saying his organization simply cannot keep up with Japanese whaling vessels’ improved technology, the founder of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has announced he’ll keep his maritime flock in dock this season.

“What we discovered is that Japan is now employing military surveillance to watch Sea Shepherd ship movements in real-time by satellite and if they know where our ships are at any given moment, they can easily avoid us,” Paul Watson said in a statement, reported AFP on Tuesday. “We cannot compete with their military-grade technology.”

“The decision we have had to face is: do we spend our limited resources on another campaign to the Southern Ocean that will have little chance of a successful intervention or do we regroup with different strategies and tactics?” he said.

Although Japan is a signatory to a 1986 global treaty banning commercial whaling, it engages in expeditions it says are purely scientific in nature, a move critics like Sea Shepherd say amounts to a cynical exploitation of a loophole in the document.

For years Sea Shepherd vessels have tracked down and harassed Japanese whaling vessels in actions critics say are tantamount to piracy. In February 2013, a U.S. federal judge agreed, issuing a ruling decrying Sea Shepherd’s tactics.

“When you ram ships, hurl glass containers of acid, drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate,” wrote U.S. District Judge Alex Kozinski, reported the BBC at the time.

For its part, Sea Shepherd — whose flag resembles the skull and crossbones — wears the “pirate” tag with pride.

“Sea Shepherd pirates are the first pirates of compassion that the world has ever known – pirates without profiteering, driven into action by a sense of urgency that if we don’t act to defend life in the oceans, who will?” wrote Mr. Watson in a May 2015 blog post.

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