About Operation Nemesis

Defending the southern ocean whale sanctuary

Operation Nemesis is Sea Shepherd’s 11th Antarctic whale defense campaign in the Southern Ocean. Our mission is to once again stop the Japanese whaling fleet from illegally slaughtering whales in an internationally-recognized whale sanctuary under the guise of “scientific research”. Two Sea Shepherd Global vessels, the Ocean Warrior and the MV Steve Irwin, departed from Australia’s Southern Operations Base the first weekend of December carrying 51 crew members from eight countries. Their goal is to intercept the Japanese fleet, which departed from Japan in late November, and prevent them from killing their self-allocated quota of 333 minke whales.

Operation Nemesis Fleet and Crew

The Steve Irwin & the Ocean Warrior

Sea Shepherd's flagship vessel M/Y Steve Irwin, with Captain Wyanda Lublink and 35 crew from six countries, is joined by Sea Shepherd's new patrol vessel M/Y Ocean Warrior, with Captain Adam Meyerson and 14 crew from eight countries on board. Read more about our Fleet.

Why We Fight

Japan's Illegal Whaling Operations

Japan’s so-called “scientific research” program to hunt 333 Minke whales has been rejected by the International Court of Justice, the International Whaling Commission and the Australian Federal Court. Despite international attention and outrage, no direct action has been taken against these illegal activities. Once again, the job of defending and protecting the whales is left to us.

1987: Despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling since 1986, Japan has been killing whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of “scientific research” since 1987.

1994: The International Whaling Commission (IWC) established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an area of 50 million square kilometers surrounding Antarctica. This sanctuary is recognized by all IWC members, except for Japan, which continued its annual hunts unopposed.

2002: Sea Shepherd embarked on its first Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign in the Southern Ocean, the only organization willing to take direct action to intervene against the Japanese fleet’s illegal slaughtering of whales.

2014: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that Japan’s whaling program in the Antarctic was not for scientific purposes and ordered its permits revoked. Japan suspended its Southern Ocean whale hunt during the 2014-2015 season.

2015: Japanese fleet introduced a new “scientific” program to kill 4,000 minke whales over a period of 12 years, yet this was also rejected by the Scientific Committee of the IWC. That same year the Australian Federal Court fined the Japanese whaling fleet AUS$1 million for “willful contempt” of a 2008 injunction banning the killing of whales in a designated Australian Whale Sanctuary. It remains unpaid.

2015-16: Despite these international legal rulings and public outcry, no governments were willing to stop the Japanese fleet from returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary once again to slaughter over 300 minke whales, most of them pregnant females.

2016-17: This season Sea Shepherd has returned to the Southern Ocean on its 11th Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Nemesis, named for the Greek goddess of inescapable justice. As the Japanese whaling fleet have expanded their hunting grounds and lowered their self-allocated quota, the biggest challenge will be to find and stop them before they’ve killed 333 minke whales.

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