The animal activist group Sea Shepherd has said that Japan’s whaling fleet harpooned its first minke on Friday evening in the Australian Antarctic waters. While the Yushin Maru No 2, one of the fleet’s harpoon ships, is now trying to bring the dead whale back to the factory ship, Nisshin Maru, the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker is preventing the transfer by positioning itself between the two.
A statement from the group, which is known for taking extreme action against Japanese whalers in previous years, says the harpoon vessel has “made nine unsuccessful attempts to transfer the dead whale, coming as close as 10 meters to the Bob Barker,” however they have not moved. Sea Shepherd’s fear is that the Yushin Maru No 2 will move on to kill more whales if it is able to transfer its catch.
Meanwhile, members of Australia‘s opposition government are upset that a whale was allegedly killed in the country’s waters. Japan and several other countries do not accept the territorial claim over the Australian Antarctic waters. Greg Hunt, an environment spokesman, accuses the government of deliberately turning a blind eye to this year’s hunt, despite warnings over a possible confrontation between the Japanese fleet and Sea Shepherd.
Sea Shepherd was dealt its own blow yesterday, when the US Supreme Court rejected their request to have an injunction overturned that orders the group to stay away from the whaling vessels. The injunction was awarded to Japan’s whaling industry in December and states that Sea Shepherd and its leader, Paul Watson, will not take any action that would threaten the safety either sides’ ships.[via Courier Mail]