Whalers, activists clash again off Antarctica

Feb 07, 2010 By ROHAN SULLIVAN , Associated Press Writer
In this photo released by Sea Shepherd, anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's ship the Bob Barker, left, and Japanese harpoon boat the Yushin Maru 3 collide in the waters off Antarctica Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. It was the second major clash this year in the increasingly aggressive confrontations between the two sides. No one was reportedly injured in the latest strike. (AP Photo/Sea Shepherd, Glenn Lockitch) NO SALES, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

(AP) -- Anti-whaling ship the Bob Barker and a Japanese harpoon boat collided in icy Antarctic waters in the second major clash this year in increasingly aggressive confrontations between conservationists and the whaling fleet.

No one was injured in the clash Saturday, which each side blamed on the other.

The U.S.-based activist group , which sends vessels to confront the Japanese fleet each year, accused the Japanese ship of deliberately rammed the Bob Barker - named after the U.S. game show host who donated millions of dollars for the anti-whaling group to buy it.

But Japan's Fisheries Agency said the activist boat caused the collision by suddenly approaching the harpoon vessel No. 3 Yushin Maru to throw bottles containing bad-smelling butyric acid at the Japanese ship.

The agency accused Sea Shepherd of "an act of sabotage" on the Japanese expedition, noting that it is allowed under world whaling regulations as a scientific expedition. Conservationists call the annual hunt a cover for .

Neither side's account could be verified. Video shot from the Bob Barker and released by Sea Shepherd shows the two side by side moving quickly through the water. The ships come closer together and the Japanese ship then appears to turn away, but its stern swings sharply toward the Bob Barker. The collision is obscured by spray, but a loud clanging noise can be heard before the vessels separate.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said a 3-foot-long, 4-inch-wide (1-meter-long, 10-centimeter-wide) hole was torn in the Bob Barker's hull, but it was above the water line and was not a threat to the ship. The Japanese agency said Yushin Maru sustained minor damage to its handrail and hull.

Bob Barker, famous for hosting "The Price is Right" for more than 30 years, said he had spoken to Watson about the collision and was happy to continue supporting the Sea Shepherd leader.

"I hope he is able to bankrupt them," Barker told The Associated Press. "He wants to sink this Japanese whaling ship economically. He wants to make it so they can't afford to continue to business. I'm all too happy to be able to support him."

Barker described the $5 million he donated for the purchase of the ship as "one of the best investments I've ever made."

Saturday's collision was the second this year between a Sea Shepherd boat and the Japanese fleet.

On Jan. 6, a Japanese whaler struck Sea Shepherd's high-tech speed boat Ady Gil and sheared off its nose. The Bob Barker then came to rescue the crew of the Ady Gil, which sank a day later.

Sea Shepherd and the whalers have faced off in waters for the past few years over Japan's annual whale hunt, with each side accusing the other of acting in increasingly dangerous ways.

Sea Shepherd activists try to block the whalers from firing harpoons, and they dangle ropes in the water to try to snarl the Japanese ships' propellers. They also hurl packets of stinking rancid butter at their rivals. The whalers have responded by firing water cannons and sonar devices meant to disorient the activists. Collisions have occurred occasionally.

On Saturday, the Bob Barker found the whaling fleet for the first time since the Ady Gil clash, Watson said.

Watson said by satellite telephone on Saturday that the Bob Barker took up a position behind the Nisshin Maru - the Japanese factory ship where dead are hauled aboard and butchered - so the four harpoon vessels could not reach it.

"The harpoon ships started circling like sharks," Watson said from his ship, the Steve Irwin. "They were making near passes to the stern and the bow of the Bob Barker, then the Yushin Maru 3 intentionally rammed the Bob Barker."

Welders aboard the ship were patching the hole, and the Bob Barker would resume its pursuit of the whalers, Watson said.

The Japanese fisheries agency said the Bob Barker came to too close to the Yushin Maru 3, which "immediately moved away to avert a collision, but it was grazed in its tail area."

The governments of Australia and New Zealand, which have responsibility for maritime rescue in the area where the hunt is usually conducted, say the fight between the two sides is becoming increasingly dangerous and have repeatedly urged them to tone it down.

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

More information: http://www.seashepherd.org/matilda/video.html
http://www.icrwhale.org/eng-index.htm

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User comments : 11

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yyz
5 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2010
A most curious "scientific" expedition.
zsingerb
1 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2010
I think their activities constitute piracy. By interfering in the business of the Japanese ships they are in essence costing the Japanese money as a pirate would if they hijacked and held the ship ransom. They should therefore be charged with piracy and their ships confiscated.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2010
I think their activities constitute piracy. By interfering in the business of the Japanese ships they are in essence costing the Japanese money as a pirate would if they hijacked and held the ship ransom. They should therefore be charged with piracy and their ships confiscated.


Agreed.
weewilly
not rated yet Feb 07, 2010
You must find out if international laws were broken in the pursuit of whales for commercial purposes. If the Japanenese have indeed broken any laws or agreements then international courts should be convened. The actions taken by the American crew should also be stopped before life is lost and ships sink. Where the hell is the useless UN and other internatonal organizations that we support?
Quantum_Conundrum
1.1 / 5 (7) Feb 07, 2010
weewilly:

Think about it, if you were a member of any non-american nation in the world, and you wanted your "piece of the pie", but you are afraid to go to war with America, what would you do?

You would most likely form the U.N. and use it as a front to drain resources from the United States, as this is the most efficient means of both increasing your own wealth and undermining the "super power".

On the other hand, the typical American citizen or politician is too stupid to understand this...
weewilly
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2010
Hello Quantum Conundrum,
You have brought up a great point. Well if the USA goes under we are taking a lot of others with us. Why is there anything of commercial value in slaughtering these great mamialian animals? Is there something that the world needs from these great beasts? Or is it simply to harvest non essential products from a country that still doesn't get it? I'll never understand this thing that they are doing. I do admire many other things from the culture of this great race of people. But why do they do this?
freethinking
1 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2010
If I were the Japanese. I would have a warship intercept and destroy the pirate ship. Simple.

BTW, I'm not a fan of whaling, but I am much less a fan of pirates.

Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Feb 08, 2010
If I were the Japanese. I would have a warship intercept and destroy the pirate ship. Simple.

Not that simple.

It's technically an act of war against the country in which the Sea Sheppard ship is registered. In this case, I think that would be New Zealand, unless Watson is still registering ships in "Sealand".
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2010
Any lawyers here? If the sea sheppard attacked a Japanese ship, is it war between New Zealand and Japan? If the ship is comitting a crime, can a japanese warship attach and apprehend the ship and crew?
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Feb 08, 2010
No, if a warship engages a civilian ship of any type it is considered an act of war.

UN articles of Naval conduct.
freethinking
2 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2010
Is it true that civilian ships are not allowed to be armed? If I was the captain of the Japanese, I would shoot if attacked... but then again in this mixed up world, governments want to disarm the innocent victims.

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