Re: "Ady Gil" sunk by whalers
The "research" is into whether or not it is feasible to continue commercial whaling. There is no other scientific research that is resulting from the annual slaughter of these whales. The whaling that goes on IS commercial whaling hiding in a cowardly way under the guise of "research".
Selling the whale meat keeps the market alive, otherwise people get out of the habit of eating whale meat. I read a while ago that the younger people of Japan are not eating whale meat at all hardly which I think will eventually probably be the most likely thing to end the whaling industry.
If this "scientific" whaling didn't go on, the infrastructure of the ships would start to deteriorate, the market would dry up and the expertise of harpooners and ships captains would be lost - this is the real reason for it.
As for the case of Peter Bethune, I think this is a canny (and rather nasty) move by the Japanese government against volunteers on the Sea Shepherd. They know that the SS is not government sanctioned or supported and probably a bit of an embarassment to the govs of the countries that the volunteers come from. So grabbing one and keeping him in prison for a looong time will probably put others off volunteering, even if he's eventually released with no charges or minimal charges, it's the process that matters, not the conclusion.