Environmental extremist and anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has issued a statement that accuses Japan’s fleet of spilling oil in Australian waters. Using four vessels to try to obstruct Japan’s yearly whale hunt in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd says it has collected samples from the oil slick it discovered on Sunday near the Sun Laurel, the whaling fleet’s re-supply ship. In addition, the group says one of Japan’s harpoon ships has tried to crash into them as they prevented the transfer of a dead whale to the Nisshin Maru mothership.
Bob Brown, the co-leader of Sea Shepherd’s campaign this year and former Australian politician, says the type of oil they have discovered is prohibited in Antarctic waters. The crew of the Sam Simon, one of the group’s ships, all say they can smell the oil and have seen the oil slick in the water, Brown claims, adding that the authorities responsible for protecting the Antarctic eco-system are nowhere to be seen. It’s not clear exactly what authorities Brown may be referring to, however, Jeff Hansen, another Sea Shepherd leader, says the confrontation of vessels took place “well and truly” inside Australian Antarctic waters, and called on the country’s government to “exert some kind of authority.”
As for the near crash itself, Sea Shepherd says its Bob Barker vessel had successfully blocked nine attempts by a Japanese harpoon ship to transfer its dead whale to the factory ship. The group claims another attempt was made, this time coming directly across in order to hit the Bob Barker if it didn’t move in time. As a result, Hansen says they made the transfer of the whale after their ship backed away.
Tony Burke, Australia’s Environment Minister, has repeatedly condemned Japan’s whaling activities, stating that regardless of where in the world it takes place, it isn’t necessary, is cruel, and has no scientific value. While Australia has long been opposed to the yearly Japanese whale hunts, even attempting legal action in December 2010, the country hasn’t really taken any direct action against the fleet this year, other than ordering one of Japan’s ships to leave it exclusive economic zone. With all the claims of the whaler’s actions, whether it be spilling oil, chasing the activist group, or attempting to crash, coming only from Sea Shepherd, it’s not only one-sided, but beginning to sound like nothing but tattling. If a country were to send its authorities, even Australia, to at least observe what is going on between the Japanese and anti-whalers, it would be helpful in getting an accurate picture of what is going on, not to mention serve as a safety assurance.[via ABC News]