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Ships Collide: Whalers and Sea Shepherd clash in Australian Antarctic waters
The Sea Shepherd ship MV Steve Irwin has collided with the Japanese whaling ship Kaiko Maru causing minor damage to both ships, and no crew injuries in Antarctic waters within the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone and Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, north of the Mawson Peninsula.
Photo: Institute of Cetacean Research, Tokyo - Sea Shepherd MV Steve Irwin from the Kaiko Maru
The Haiko Maru emerged from dense fog in front of the Steve Irwin about 0730 GMT December 26th, 2008. Fog conditions had reduced visibility to about 500m.
Australian citizen Jeff Hansen from Perth, Western Australia, delivered a message over the radio in Japanese calling on the Japanese whaling ship to cease whaling operations and leave Australian territorial waters as whaling is illegal under Australian law.
The Kaiko Maru had been undertaking a detour in the ice pack area after completing the day’s research activities, according to the Institute Of Cetacean Research (ICA).
The Steve Irwin pursued and came alongside the Kaiko Maru for anti-whaling activists to throw 10 bottles of rotten butter and 15 bottles of a methyl cellulose and indelible dye mixture.
According to the Sea Shepherd news report "As the Steve Irwin came alongside the starboard side of the Kaiko Maru, the whaler steered hard to starboard and struck the Steve Irwin lightly crushing part of the aft port helicopter deck guard rails on the Sea Shepherd ship. There was no serious damage to either ship."
According to a press release by the Institute Of Cetacean Research "The Steve Irwin rammed the Kaiko Maru from the starboard rear side and spent a number of hours in dangerous close-quarter harassment of the Japanese vessel, repeatedly overtaking and circling the Kaiko Maru."
The ICA confirmed that the "topside starboard rear bulwark was damaged" but the damage is "no hindrance to its present operation and research activities".
After the collision, the Sea Shepherd repeatedly overtook and turned around the Kaiko Maru for approximately three hours, according to the ICA, then the Sea Shepherd ship changed course to the east.
Sea Shepherd has been pursuing the whaling fleet east for a week through heavy fog, dense ice and blizzard conditions. While the Whaling fleet has been pursued no whales have been caught.
"Our objective now is to chase them out of Australia's Economic Exclusion Zone," said Captain Paul Watson. "I have a chart here and it clearly states that these waters are Australian EEZ. There is an Australian Federal Court Order specifically prohibiting these ships from whaling in these waters. We have informed the whalers they are in contempt of this Court ruling."
"We still have them on the run and we intend to keep them on the run for as long as our fuel resources allow," said Captain Watson.
Captain Paul Watson outlined the legal arguments for their actions to stop whaling in 2005 saying:
It is not illegal to interfere on the high seas against their illegal whaling activities. In fact, we are legally authorized to do so in accordance with the U.N. World Charter for Nature.
The United Nations World Charter for Nature states in Section 21e:
States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall Safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
And finally, Section 24 states:
Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter; acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present Charter are met.
"This is what we are doing in the waters of the Southern Ocean. We are acting as individuals and non-governmental organizations to uphold international conservation law for the purpose of protecting the environment. In so doing, we are challenging a rogue pirate nation intent upon arrogantly violating international conservation law." said Paul Watson.
"Minke whale being processed for whale meat. The crime here is the illegal slaughter of thousands of whales. There is no such thing as “research whaling,” and even if there was, it is still not legal." said Watson
Photo: Institute of Cetacean Research, Tokyo
Photo: Eric Cheng / Sea Shepherd
Photo: Eric Cheng / Sea Shepherd