Japanese whale fleet interrupted its whale hunt in the waters of the Southern Ocean after it clashed with the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd on Wednesday.
Two boats belonging to Sea Shepherd were rammed by a Japanese ship in Australian Antarctic waters. The boats were first ordered to leave the area and then they were attacked, according to the international press.
After the conflict, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research announced its activity has stopped, as refuelling the whaling ships in good time would be too difficult.
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson says it is unlikely the whalers will restart their activity this season.
“Not this season, the season is over in 18 days,” he said. “They could not go up north and refuel again. It is all over and done with I think for this year. I do not think they have killed more than a dozen whales in total, we do not know for sure, but they could not have killed more than that,” Watson added.
Australian opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt says the Government is pretending not to observe the increasing conflict with the Japanese whaling fleet. Hunt said he has written to Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke asking for a Customs vessel to be dispatched to the area at once.
“It is time that the Government realizes that they are approaching extreme negligence, and dispatches a Customs vessel. Failure to do so is simply a failure to acknowledge the conflict, the hostility, and the taking of whales in Australian waters,” Hunt said.
Australia strongly opposes whaling and launched legal action challenging the basis of Japan’s so-called “scientific hunt” in December 2010.