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Japanese whaling vessel reportedly collides with Sea Shepherd boat in Ross Sea

February 5, 2009 |  4:34 pm

Crew aboard the Japanese factory whaling ship, Nisshin Maru (right) hauls a minke whale up its slipway while the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 2 stays close behind. A Sea Shepherd helicopter hovers overhead.

News item: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, Steve Irwin, has collided with a Japanese harpoon whaling vessel, claiming that vessel's crew was trying to block the Steve Irwin crew’s attempt to prevent the transfer of a dead whale up the slipway of the Nisshin Maru (pictured at right).

Reaction: Hardly a surprise. Something like this was bound to happen. Both groups are determined -- Japan to kill its quota of minke whales and Sea Shepherd to disrupt the whalers' efforts. It's just fortunate that no boats are sinking and nobody (except the poor whale) was seriously hurt.

"We were in the process of blocking the transfer from the Yushin Maru No. 2 when the Yushin Maru No.1 moved directly in front of the bow to block us," said Capt. Paul Watson in a dispatch. "I could not turn to starboard without hitting the Yushin Maru No. 1. I tried to back down but the movement of the Yushin Maru No. 2 made the collision unavoidable."

At least three whales were killed this morning by the whalers in the Antarctic region's Ross Sea, according to the activists, who observed blood pouring from scupper holes in the processing ship.

Peter Hammarstedt, a first officer aboard Steve Irwin, said, "They have escalated this battle to see just how determined we are to protect these whales. We're shepherds and we will do what we can to protect our flock from these murderous poachers."

The situation, to be sure, has turned ugly.

Japan, as reported here many times, intends to kill nearly 1,000 whales using a "lethal research" loophole in a 1986 global moratorium against commercial whaling.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Crew aboard the Japanese factory whaling ship, Nisshin Maru (right) hauls a minke whale up its slipway while the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No. 2 stays close behind. A Sea Shepherd helicopter hovers overhead. Credit: Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd

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