Whalers using ‘sonic blasters’ on environmentalists?

FP previously wrote about “Long Range Acoustic Devices” in our 2008 “stories you missed” list when we reported that U.S. companies were selling them in China. Now it seems the LRAD — a non-lethal weapon capable of causing nausea, panic and ear damage — is possibly being employed by Japanese whaling ships to deter interfering ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
588893_090202_lrad15.jpg
588893_090202_lrad15.jpg

FP previously wrote about "Long Range Acoustic Devices" in our 2008 "stories you missed" list when we reported that U.S. companies were selling them in China.

Now it seems the LRAD -- a non-lethal weapon capable of causing nausea, panic and ear damage -- is possibly being employed by Japanese whaling ships to deter interfering environmentalists from the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society:

In Japan, the government’s Fisheries Agency admitted that water sprays and “beeping warning tones” had been used against the environmentalists. A spokesman for the Institute of Cetacean Research, a government funded organisation which campaigns in the whaling cause, did not deny that the LRAD had been put to use. “All legal means available will be used to ensure these pirates do not board Japanese ships or threaten the lives of the crews or the safety of the vessels," Glenn Inwood said.

FP previously wrote about “Long Range Acoustic Devices” in our 2008 “stories you missed” list when we reported that U.S. companies were selling them in China.

Now it seems the LRAD — a non-lethal weapon capable of causing nausea, panic and ear damage — is possibly being employed by Japanese whaling ships to deter interfering environmentalists from the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society:

In Japan, the government’s Fisheries Agency admitted that water sprays and “beeping warning tones” had been used against the environmentalists. A spokesman for the Institute of Cetacean Research, a government funded organisation which campaigns in the whaling cause, did not deny that the LRAD had been put to use. “All legal means available will be used to ensure these pirates do not board Japanese ships or threaten the lives of the crews or the safety of the vessels,” Glenn Inwood said.

If the Japanese are in fact using the LRAD, the degree that spokesmen will go to in order to avoid calling it a weapon is becoming absurd. “Beeping warning tones” definitely trumps “directed-sounds communications system.”

Photo: Department of Defense

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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