SYDNEY, Feb. 16, 2011 (Kyodo News International) -- Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conversation Society Capt. Paul Watson believes his group's strategy was the major reason for the suspension of whaling in Antarctic Ocean by Japanese whalers.
Watson told Kyodo News on Wednesday all whaling activity by the Japanese was suspended Feb. 9, with the whaling vessel the Nisshin Maru now ''2,000 miles east of the whaling area'' and entering Chilean waters in the Atlantic Ocean near South America, an unusual course for the whaling vessel.
''I think that, effectively, we shut down their operations for the season. They know they are not going to kill any more whales...they are probably making the decision to cut and run,'' Watson said from the Sea Shepherd flagship vessel the Steve Irwin, which is still tailing the Nisshin Maru.
He believes the group's ''No Compromise'' campaign consisting of three anti-whaling vessels, including the interceptor Gojira and the former Norwegian harpoon vessel the Bob Barker, was a major contributing factor to the Japanese decision.
''We found them before they started killing whales, we've been on their tail ever since,'' he said.
''We have chased them, chased them, disrupted them, (so) they haven't had a chance to kill many whales,'' Watson said. ''I don't think they've killed more than 30.''
The original quota set by the Japanese whalers for the Antarctic whaling season was 1,035 whales, including minke and fin whales.
The main Sea Shepherd strategy was to stop the whalers by preventing the Nisshin Maru from loading whales by blocking the vessels stern and keeping it on the run from the group.
''Our strategy has always been aggressive, nonviolent. We never hurt anybody, but we were certainly aggressive,'' Watson said.
He also believes a lack of fuel may be another problem for the Japanese fleet, with the Sea Shepherd able to disrupt refueling of the Nisshin Maru since late December.
Watson said his group of 80 is ''excited'' by ''their achievements.''
''Every whale saved is a victory to us,'' he said, adding this year, the group's seventh campaign, is the strongest.
''Every year we come down here, we come down strong and the whaling fleet comes down weaker. I've always felt the key to this is financial, economic, we had to cut their profits, to sink the Japanese fleet economically, and that what we've been able to do,'' he said.
Watson also said he does not know if whalers will return next season, but added, ''We prepared for it'' with a fourth ship set to be added to the fleet.
In the meantime, Sea Shepherd will continue to shadow the Japanese fleet until they are satisfied the whalers will not continue their hunt.
The whaling season normally ends in the first two weeks of March.