Japan's Harpoon Ships Are Attacking Anti-Whaling Activists In The Antarctic, Says Sea Shepherd

Harpoon vessel cuts across the bow of The Steve Irwin. Photo: Eliza Muirhead

The anti-whaling fleet came under attack today by Japanese harpoon whaling ships in the icy Ross Sea in the Antarctic, Sea Shepherd says.

The conservation group says its ship, The Bob Barker, was hit by the Japanese whaling fleet’s harpoon vessel, the Yushin Maru No. 2.

There were no injuries and The Bob Barker was still sea-tight.

Sea Shepherd says the incident is a part of an attack by the Japanese whaling fleets’ three harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3.

The clash with Sea Shepherd ships, The Steve Irwin and The Bob Barker, began about 0001 this morning AEDT.

The Sea Shepherd ships are blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the whale factory ship, preventing the whalers from loading whales from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Japan whale factory ship Nisshin Maru. Photo: Sea Shepherd.

“The harpoon vessels overtook the Sea Shepherd ships from the stern, crossing the bow, and coming as close as three to five metres,” Sea Shepherd says.

Captain Peter Hammarstedt of The Bob Barker says the whaling vessels have also tried to foul the propellers of the Sea Shepherd ships by dragging steel cable across the bow of the conservation ships.

He says:

“the crew of the whaling vessels threw projectiles at The Steve Irwin’s small boat crew and turned water cannons on The Bob Barker’s small boat crew as they attempted to cut the steel cables.”

Japan plans to take 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales under a so-called scientific whaling program this season.

Australia has said it will send a surveillance aircraft to monitor both whaling and anti-whaling activities.

Sea Shepherd says it’s activities mean the Japanese whaling fleet has been unable to kill whales for at least 14 days of January.

Yushin Maru approaches The Steve Irwin’s port side, changes course to overtake and cross bow at extremely close range, comes within meters of creating a collision. Photos: Tim Watters

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