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Whale war controversy continues as authorities board Sea Shepherd vessel, seize items

February 23, 2009 |  1:14 pm

Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin collides with the stern of a Japanese harpoon whaling ship in the Antarctic

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship the Steve Irwin pulled into port in Tasmania last week and was met by a group of Australian Federal Police officers, who served a search warrant, boarded the vessel and confiscated numerous items.

The items seized include the ship's log book, video footage, audio recordings, photographs, interview transcripts and meeting minutes compiled during recent confrontations between the anti-whaling activists and Japanese whaling vessels in the Antarctic.

Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson says much of the confiscated material belongs to the Discovery Channel's "Animal Planet" producer and camera crew, who were onboard the Steve Irwin videotaping material for the second season of the television series "Whale Wars."

It is still unclear who filed the official complaint with the Australian police. A written statement issued by the department said the warrant was executed "as a result of a formal referral from the Japanese authorities."

Japan still hunts whales, and the government-backed Institute of Cetacean Research annually targets about 1,000 minke whales using a loophole in the 1986 global whaling moratorium that allows whales to be killed for research purposes.

This year's efforts by the anti-whaling group and the whaling vessels became increasingly confrontational, climaxing with the Steve Irwin colliding with one of the Japanese ships.

And so the saga of good guys versus bad continues. Which side is which seems open to interpretation, judging by comments received from Outposts readers on earlier posts regarding this ongoing drama.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin collides with the stern of a Japanese harpoon whaling ship in the Antarctic Credit: Sea Shepherd