JAPAN’S Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has issued a statement saying they have suspended all whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.
This follows a confrontation with vessels from the Sea Shepherd fleet this morning. In the incident it was alleged the Japanese ship Shonan Maru 2 rammed four vessels, including a Korean oil tanker which was present to refuel the whaling boat.
The statement from Japanese Fisheries says the whaling ship issued verbal warnings and then sprayed the three Sea Shepherd boats with water canons, after vessels tried to stop one of it’s whaling ships from refuelling.
The ICR have released two videos they claim shows Sea Shepherd vessels colliding with them. However it appears in the videos there is no footage of an actual collision. The videos can be viewed at www.icrwhale.org.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson claimed in addition to water canons the Japanese ship also used concussion bombs against activists on their ships. He said the incidents occurred within Australian territorial water.
Bob Brown, Director of Sea Shepherd, slammed the Japanese government earlier today for breaching international law and demanded the Australian government send the Navy to re-establish order in the Antarctic area.
”This is a gross breach of international law by the Japanese,” he told the ABC.
”I’m calling the Australian government to dispatch naval vessels now – not just to film the slaughter of the whales by the Antarctic fleet, but to restore international law.”
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said he had been made aware of the claims against the Japanese.
”We are still confirming the reports,” he said in a statement.
He said if the reports are confirmed he would not be going quiet on the subject.
Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt has sent a letter to Mr Burke demanding custom vessels be sent down to Antarctica.