SYDNEY – The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship vessel departed Thursday from Brisbane with Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah on board for the hardline antiwhaling group’s annual campaign to disrupt Japanese whalers in the Antarctic Ocean.
Hannah, who starred in the 1980s films “Blade Runner” and “Splash,” will travel on the ship, the Steve Irwin, for one week to raise awareness of the need for joint action by conservation groups and governments to stop the killing of whales.
“They (the Japanese) are hunting endangered species in a marine protected area,” the Australian Associated Press quoted Hannah as saying.
“It is surprising and shocking to me that governments are not doing this work — that it is up to individuals and nongovernment organizations to uphold international law and protect endangered species,” she said.
Hannah joins skipper Paul Watson and some 42 international volunteers as they embark on Operation Musashi, named after legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, which aims to “negate the illegal profits from whaling.”
Watson said he expects this year’s clash with the whalers could be more violent than in the past because the whalers are becoming increasingly frustrated by disruptions to their quota.
“How much longer can they keep losing profits?” the AAP quoted Watson as asking.
“Last year, they made a 70 million Australian dollar (about $45 million) loss,” he said. “For three years they have been making losses.”
This year, however, Sea Shepherd will square off against the Japanese fleet on its own, as Greenpeace announced it would not be sending a ship and Australia also ruled out sending a boat to monitor the whalers.
Greenpeace said earlier it will focus its activities on shifting public opinion in Japan.
Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the government had gathered sufficient evidence from the monitoring vessel last season to support any international legal action Australia chooses to pursue.
Garrett also announced an A$6 million antiwhaling package designed to debunk “the need to kill whales in the name of science.”
This season, Japanese whalers reportedly hope to kill some 1,000 minke and fin whales under its lethal scientific research program.