February 7, 2010

Activists Claim Harpooners Rammed Ship

Anti-whaling activists accused Japanese harpooners on Saturday of purposely ramming one of their ships and piercing its hull to further escalate the hostilities in Antarctic waters.

According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 3 collided with the Bob Barker during a clash off Cape Denley in Australian Antarctic waters, creating a three-foot four-inch deep hole above the waterline.  No one was injured.

The head of the Sea Shepherd mission Paul Watson said the incident demonstrated a "continued escalation of violence" by the Japanese, after an incident on January 6, which sank the activists' futuristic trimaran, the Ady Gil.

"Because the whalers got away basically scot-free with the outrageous sinking of the Ady Gil, they now apparently think they can do whatever they want and they appear to have no qualms about endangering Sea Shepherd crew," Watson said.

"Australian and New Zealand lives are at risk every day in these waters," he added, referring to his mostly antipodean crew.

"What we really need is for the governments of Australia and New Zealand to step up and start enforcing maritime laws in these waters, or who knows what the whalers will do next."

The collision is being investigated by Canberra and Wellington between the Shonan Maru No. 2 and the Ady Gil, which caused the high-tech protest boat to break in two and sink without a trace.

Canberra expressed diplomatic concerns over the collision and said the Japanese fleet chartered spying flights out of Australia.

In turn, Tokyo submitted a complaint with New Zealand's government.  The whalers and the protesters blame each other for the crash.

Japanese harpooners use a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium, which allows "lethal research," to hunt whales and fight with activists that grew increasingly sophisticated and intense.


Image 1: Bob Barker Damage from the Collision. Credit: Lincoln Shaw/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Image 2: Credit: Lincoln Shaw/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society


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