The Sun Laurel, a refueling vessel for the Japanese whaling fleet, rammed vessels operated by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on Wednesday as Sea Shepherd attempted to stop the whaling ship’s refueling operations in the Antarctic.
Sea Shepherd says the whaling ship was illegally refueling, as it is prohibited from doing so in an area lower than 60 degrees south according to the Antarctic Treaty, reported The Australian. After the confrontation, Sea Shepherd Captain Jim Watson told The Australian it is unlikely the whalers will return to finish the last 18 days of the season. The whaling fleet will likely refuel 300 nautical miles further north.
It isn’t the first time this week Sea Shepherd has caught the Japanese whalers allegedly breaking the law. It also isn’t the first time this week the whalers have shown hostility toward the conservation group, according to Sea Shepherd’s reports.
Sea Shepherd reported on Feb. 17 that the crew on one of its vessels, Sam Simon, smelled diesel fumes and saw an oil slick in the wake of the Sun Laurel. It took samples of the water.
In the same report, Sea Shepherd describes a confrontation between the Sam Simon and the whalers. The Sam Simon positioned itself between the Sun Laurel and the whaling ship, Yushin Maru; Yushin Maru turned toward Sea Shepherd’s vessel with a dangerous “wide turn” that could have caused a crash, reported Sea Shepherd.
The group was able to halt hunting for the day, but now it is hopeful the hunt will not continue for the rest of the season, and that the whalers will be discouraged front continuing next season.
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