via Jon Sumby From the Steve Irwin, in the Southern Ocean, 18th Jan.

“With “allies” like the Australian government and Greenpeace, it is becoming increasing difficult to keep the Japanese fleet from killing whales,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Australian Customs deliberately led us away from the fleet and Greenpeace is guarding the coordinates like the crown jewels to prevent us re-locating the fleet.”

Plus, earlier report: Release of Lane, Potts, pictures …

THE AUSTRALIAN Customs and Fisheries Patrol vessel Oceanic Viking has thrown the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin off the trail of the Japanese fleet.
After picking up the two Sea Shepherd crewmembers from the Yushin Maru No. 2 the Oceanic Viking notified the Steve Irwin to head for a rendezvous point a few hours away. This was unusual considering that the < em>Yushin Maru No. 2 was only about ten miles away at the time. The Steve Irwin was forced to stop tailing the Yushin Maru No. 2 to meet up with the Oceanic Viking. This allowed the whaler to head off in an unknown direction to rejoin the factory ship Nisshin Maru.

After dropping off Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane, the Oceanic Viking headed off in a direction away from the Japanese fleet. The fleet then apparently changed course and has now been lost from Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace tagging along with the Nisshin Maru has reported that the catcher boats have met back up with the main fleet.

Although Sea Shepherd has been relaying the position of the catcher boats to the Greenpeace ship Esperanza for the last three days, Greenpeace refuses to reciprocate and refuses to reveal the present location of the fleet.

“With “allies” like the Australian government and Greenpeace, it is becoming increasing difficult to keep the Japanese fleet from killing whales,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Australian Customs deliberately led us away from the fleet and Greenpeace is guarding the coordinates like the crown jewels to prevent us re-locating the fleet.”

Complicating the search is the fact that the Japanese have sent a new ship the Fukoyoshi No. 68 to shadow the Steve Irwinat all times. The vessel is not part of the whaling fleet. It’s a large Japanese drag trawler. It does not have any fishing gear onboard and seems to have more electronic gear than normal for a fishing vessel. This ship is apparently reporting the Steve Irwin’s position to the Japanese fleet.

Sea Shepherd has shut down whaling for a week. Unless the Steve Irwin can find the fleet soon, the killing will begin again. The Oceanic Viking will take pictures of dying whales and Greenpeace will hang banners, take pictures and continue on with their ineffective stunts. They will not stop the killing.

“If whales begin to die within the next few days, I will hold Greenpeace and the Australian government responsible,” said Captain Paul Watson. “They know we can stop the killing because whales don’t die when Sea Shepherd arrives. By leading us off the tail of the whalers and refusing to cooperate on coordinates they are deliberately helping the whalers to escape from Sea Shepherd and to resume the slaughter of the whales. I understand that Greenpeace needs kill footage and images of “heroic eco-warriors” buzzing about in inflatables but that does not stop the harpoons. Our very presence will deter the Japanese from killing whales. Sea Shepherd is the best weapon that Greenpeace can use to stop the resumption of whaling. By withholding cooperation they are contributing to the death of the whales. If any whales are killed within the next week I will hold Greenpeace responsible for their deaths because they have the power to cooperate with Sea Shepherd to prevent the killing from continuing.”

The Steve Irwin is conducting helicopter surveillance patrols to re-locate the whaling fleet. The fleet should be within two hundred miles of Sea Shepherd.

Hostage crew is transferred from the Oceanic Viking to the Steve Irwin

Sea Shepherd hostages leave the Yishin Maru No.2

Earlier …

Sea Shepherd Mounts Retaliatory Strike on Japanese Hostage Ship

Immediately after the two Sea Shepherd men were returned to the Steve Irwin , the Yushin Maru No. 2 approached within three miles of the Steve Irwin .

1st Officer Peter Brown dispatched a Delta inflatable and small crew to approach the Japanese whaler to deploy a flurry of stink bombs onto the deck of the whaling vessel.
Benjamin Potts reported that during the two and half days they spent on the ship the Japanese crew rarely ventured out onto the deck because of the noxious lingering odor of rotten butter.

The Sea Shepherd crew routinely use bottles of buyteric acid to clear the decks of poaching vessels. This is a non-toxic chemical. It is literally butter acid and the smell of rancid rotting butter is extremely noxious.

The Yushin Maru No. 2 fled eastward as the Delta pursued them and then rejoined the Steve Irwin to pick up the two released crewmembers from the Oceanic Viking.

The Steve Irwin is continuing it’s pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet. “This is the 8th day that whales have not been killed,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Every day that we stop the whalers is a victory. We will continue to intervene, harass, block, and obstruct the whalers at every opportunity.”

The Steve Irwin is presently at 59 Degrees 46 Minutes South and 85 Degrees 59 Minutes East and on the tail of the Japanese whaling fleet.

Statement by Giles Lane

“After our 48 hours of captivity, I’m pleased to have rejoined the captain and crew of the Steve Irwin. I am unharmed and ready to continue disrupting the whaling of the Japanese fleet in the Southern Ocean. It was worth the risk and time in order to inform them of their illegal activities and stop them killing whales whilst we were aboard.”

Statement by Benjamin Potts

“I’m happy to be back aboard the Steve Irwin with my crew. I’m pleased that everything worked out and that no-one was hurt, and also that we were successful in placing the world’s attention on the illegal slaughter of whales in a whale sanctuary in the Australian Antarctic Territory. To the Japanese people, we have nothing against you as a people. I enjoy Japanese culture, but your barbaric slaughter of intelligent and endangered marine mammals must stop before you drive them to extinction.”

During their time on board the Yushin Maru No. 2, the whaler crew was at pains to try and show the Sea Shepherd crew had not been mistreated, to the extent that they released details of the meals the captives had been given. However, they were unaware, or were testing to see, that the crew are vegetarian:

‘3. Menu content (what they have eaten).

15 January dinner: two slices of bread, corn potage, vegetable salad, green tea, strawberry jam, mermelade.

16 January breakfast: 2 bread slices, plain omelette, bacon (they didn’t eat the bacon), strawberry jam, mermelade, green tea.

16 January lunch: chicken rice, tofu with soy sauce, milk, gren tea, hot cakes (dessert).

16 January 3:20 pm tea brunch: sweet-jellied azuki bean paste (with green tea powder), green tea.

16 January dinner: white rice, tempura (prawns, squid, sweetfish, sweet potato, beans on the pod), green tea, (they did not eat both prawns nor squid).’