During the 2009-2010 operation, Sea Shepherd’s three boats, informally dubbed ‘Neptune’s Navy’, managed to halt whaling for three straight weeks- one third of the season. The Japanese government and whalers gave back as good as they got; naval vessels were deployed and one whaling ship – the Nisshin Maru -rammed Sea Shepherd’s fast interceptor boat almost killing its crew. When the interceptor's captain Pete Buthane boarded the Nisshin Maru in protest, he was taken prisoner and transported back to Japan…removing the ship vessel from whaling operations. Overall such harassment and abuse of the activists cost the whalers millions of dollars – exacerbating the financial losses caused by Sea Shepherd’s initial disruption.
This is the reason why the organisation is so effective – and why ultimately it will succeed. Whilst the Japanese government-backed whalers have circumvented and flouted a global ban, ignoring political pressure and legal threats, they cannot infinitely ignore their own monetary losses. Many people (even amongst those who oppose the practice of harpooning whales and dragging them onto the decks of boats before cutting them up whilst still alive) disagree with Sea Shepherd's tactics of blockading whaling vessels, pelting them with smoke grenades or 'stink bombs' and damaging their engines. However, no one can deny that they have turned this potentially lucrative industry into a financial black hole.
For five straight years the Japanese government and whaling industry have had to pour resources into defending the vessels, whilst never once meeting their quotas. When this is combined with the fact that Sea Shepherd’s actions have never injured anybody (despite claims by the whalers that were later proven to be false) –there seems no reason why any right thinking person concerned about protecting some of nature’s most intelligent and endangered creatures shouldn’t support them on their latest mission.
With a re-vamped fleet including a brand new fast interceptor and an eager crew which for the first time includes Japanese members –Neptune’s Navy looks likely to continue its impressive record of each year’s action being more successful than the last. The political moves to end whaling are vital – as are the legal initiatives, particularly Australia’s proposal for a case at the International Court of Justice; however, whilst these proceed- understandably slowly – Sea Shepherd’s excellent working in directly financially wrecking the whaling industry can only be commended.