The Japanese government is seeking action from Netherlands regarding the issue of a vessel that collided with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean. A Dutch-registered ship, the Bob Barker, owned by the militant conservationist group Sea Shepherd, was reported to have come into contact with a Japanese harpoon vessel yesterday while trying to interrupt the whale hunt.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denounced the environmental group and blamed them for the accident. He described the act as “unforgivable” and “extremely dangerous,” referring to the sabotage action carried out by Sea Shepherd. “As a government, we are asking the Netherlands, where the ship is registered, to take practical measures,” said Suga. Sea Shepherd is maintaining that a Japanese ship hit the Bob Barker. The attack was in retaliation to the campaigners, who were driving the three harpoon ships away from the mother vessel, the Nisshin Maru. They claimed that steel cables were used to destroy the fleet’s propellers while throwing grappling hooks at another ship, the Steve Irwin, belonging to the conservationist group. They also accused the Japanese whalers of firing water cannons on the Bob Barker’s crew. Bob Barker captain, Peter Hammarstedt, said that the attacks were “unprovoked” and done in a “ruthless” manner.
However, the Japanese whalers claim otherwise and blame Sea Shepherd, saying that they attacked first and had no choice but to defend their vessels. A fisheries agency official reported that no one from the whaling ships has been hurt, and operations are back to normal. Sea Shepherd and Japanese whalers are known to have high-seas confrontations in the Southern Ocean, as the conservationist group condemns the whalers who hunt under a “scientific research” loophole in the moratorium.