For more than a decade, a marine conservation group has dogged Japanese ships trolling for whales near Antarctica. But the BBC reports that Sea Shepherd is now being forced to cancel those efforts, noting it's been outplayed by Japan's cutting-edge technology and deep wallet. "Japan is now employing military surveillance to watch Sea Shepherd ship movements in real time by satellite, and if they know where our ships are at any given moment, they can easily avoid us," Capt. Paul Watson, the group's founder, says in a statement. Per CNN, Watson says his group's work was also stymied by new anti-terrorism laws "specifically designed to condemn Sea Shepherd tactics" and warnings from Japan that they might send out military vessels to protect their whalers.
Japan has continued to hunt whales, despite an International Whaling Commission moratorium that began in 1985. Watson says over the past 12 years, his organization's efforts have slashed Japan's annual quota from 1,305 whales to 333. He also has a beef with the US, Australia, and New Zealand, three nations that publicly take Japan to task for flouting the moratorium, but which Watson says actually have "hostile governments" that are "too busy appeasing Japan," per the BBC. Watson tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that's because trade deals are more important to those countries than conservation efforts. He notes Sea Shepherd's pullback is strictly temporary as they "regroup." "We are going to have to find an alternative way to deal with them, and we will," Watson says, not elaborating on what alternatives may be, the ABC notes. (Read more Sea Shepherd Conservation Society stories.)