- Campaigners say they spotted vessels in Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
- Images of whale carcasses on bloodied ship deck captured from a helicopter
- Another minke whale was being butchered on board, says Sea Shepherd
- Commercial whale hunting outlawed in 1994
Japanese whaling vessels allowed ‘for research purposes’
Militant anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says it spotted the Nisshin Maru sailing through the protected Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary during the annual whaling season.
As the Sea Shepherd’s helicopter flew above the Japanese ship, campaigners shot footage of the blood-streaked deck and the carcasses of three dead minke whales lying on the ship as another creature was butchered.
Sea Shepherd said it had spotted the Japanese fleet yesterday and captured evidence that four whales had been slaughtered this morning, alleging the ships were found inside the sanctuary.
Campaigners said they had located all five Japanese vessels and were now in pursuit, forcing the harpooners to cut short their operation and retreat.
‘That’s just a gruesome, bloody, medieval scene which has no place in this modern world.’
When the Nisshin Maru was first spotted from the air, Dr Brown said it was in Antarctica’s Ross Dependency, within New Zealand’s territorial waters and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which he described as a ‘gross breach of international law’.
The commercial hunting of whales is prohibited in the sanctuary, which was designated by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1994, but Japan catches the animals there under a ‘scientific research’ loophole in the moratorium on whaling.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully denied whaling was taking place within his country’s maritime jurisdiction, saying the site was considered international waters, as he condemned the ‘pointless and offensive’ practice.
‘The New Zealand government has repeatedly called on Japan to end its whaling programme. We reiterate this message today,’ he said.
‘There is nothing scientific about this, it is butchery,’ Mr Brown said.
‘The one thing that’s missing here is gumption – a bit of spine in Canberra and in Wellington to put an end to it.’
Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice seeking to have its research whaling programme declared illegal, with a ruling due this year.
Peter Hammarstedt, captain of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker, said Japan had shown ‘flagrant disregard for international law by continuing their illegal whale hunt while the world patiently awaits a decision from the International Court of Justice’.
Sea Shepherd left Australia for their 10th annual harassment campaign of the Japanese fleet last month, sending three ships to tail and run interference against the harpooners.
High-seas clashes between the two groups are common, resulting in the 2010 sinking of the Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil.
Australia will be monitoring confrontations between the pair from a government jet which is due to fly surveillance missions over the Southern Ocean between January and March.
However, Dr Brown said there had so far been no sign of the aircraft.
Graphic whaling footage Sea Shepherd releases footage of whales being killed
Published on 6 Jan 2014
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