The Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel The Bob Barker has been attacked by two Japan harpoon ships, the conservation group says.
The Yushin Maru and Yushin Maru No. 3 crossed the bow of The Bob Barker 33 times at close range dragging steel cable in an attempt to disable the conservation ship’s propellers and rudders.
The Bob Barker had been shadowing the the factory ship Nisshin Maru when the attack started.
Sea Shepherd says the assault was an attempt to deter The Bob Barker from blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru to stop the whalers loading harpooned whales.
The Nisshin Maru was located early on Sunday morning for the third time this season by a helicopter from the The Steve Irwin, another Sea Shepherd ship.
This is the second skirmish this month. Earlier part of the The Bob Barker’s hull was crushed in a collision with the Yushin Maru No. 3.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt of The Bob Barker said today:
“I radioed the harpoon ships to let them know that our operations are completely lawful and that any aggressive action on their part would be reported to the Australian government and New Zealand Search and Rescue, and that Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt had been contacted.”
There are nine Australians and one New Zealanders on board.
The Bob Barker is currently within close range of the Yushin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 3.
Since locating the Nisshin Maru early Sunday morning, the Sea Shepherd fleet was able to chase the factory vessel out of the Ross Sea.
The Steve Irwin and The Sam Simon, the third Sea Shepherd ship, are shadowing the factory ship.
Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said:
“The Bob Barker is in the Southern Ocean to defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from the illegal Japanese whalers. Both Australia and New Zealand are parties to the Sanctuary. Both the Australian and New Zealand governments have legally challenged the Japanese whaling operations at the International Court of Justice. So where are these governments now, when their citizens and the Sanctuary are under attack from these poachers?”
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