"I'm disappointed Sea Shepherd took an action that risked lives," said U.S. IWC Commissioner, Bill Hogarth. "We passed a resolution last year to discourage this type of rogue activity. The United States is extremely concerned that encounters like this could escalate into more violent interactions between the vessels. We still oppose Japan's research whale hunts, but the way to resolve this is through the IWC process. These dangerous confrontations in the Southern Ocean must stop before someone gets seriously hurt or killed."
"The safety of vessels and life at sea is the highest priority for the United States and the nations that respect the rule of law on the high seas," said Hogarth. "I ask all parties to respect the Commission's wishes and immediately refrain from any acts that risk human life or safety at sea." he said in a statement.
A global moratorium on commercial whaling has existed since 1986 under the auspices of the IWC, but Japan runs a "scientific whaling program" conducted within a loophole of the commission's rules, allowing it to slaughter hundreds of whales each year and sell the meat for consumption to pay the costs of the research. Last year The Japanese Whaling Fleet was restructured to transfer it from private ownership (susceptible to consumer led boycotts) to Government control through the Japanese Government funded Institute for Cetecean Research.
Japan has invited all 72 member nations of the IWC to attend a conference in Tokyo, Japan from 13 to 15 February, to reform the International Whaling Commission, but in reality to provide a better framework for commercial whaling according to critics.
"Australia is deeply concerned about this meeting by pro-whaling interests," said Richard Wilson, a spokesman for the Australian Department of the Environment and Water Resources. "The clear intention of the meeting is to limit the agenda of the International Whaling Commission to consumptive use,"
Most of the anti-whaling nations such as the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand are boycotting the meeting. Japan is expecting about half the members of the IWC to attend, which amounts to the supporters of Japan in IWC meetings.
NOAA Press Release 9 Feb 2007 - U.S. WHALING COMMISSIONER DENOUNCES SEA SHEPHERD'S CLASH WITH JAPANESE WHALERS
Mainichi Daily News - 9 Feb 2007 - Japan set to push for commercial whaling amid growing divide in global body
Portland IMC - 9 Feb 2007 - Antarctic Direct Action: Japanese Claims of Injuries are Bogus says Sea Shepherd
IWC Whale Sanctuaries