Skip to main content

Sea Shepherd activists say they disrupted Japan's whale hunt in Antarctic waters

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 2:33 AM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's ship is moored in Sydney in August 2013.
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's ship is moored in Sydney in August 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An anti-whaling group says it split up Japan's fleet and chased it out of the Antarctic zone
  • "Within a day and a half, we have the entire whaling fleet in disarray," an activist says
  • Japan says the whaling ships are still in the Southern Ocean and the hunt continues
  • Environmental groups clash each year with Japan's whaling vessels

(CNN) -- Environmental activists have declared an early success at the start of their annual high seas showdown with Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters.

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Australia said its ships had split up the Japanese fleet in the Southern Ocean and chased it out of the main Antarctic zone.

"The whale poaching fleet is scattered and currently not hunting whales," Sea Shepherd said in a statement Monday.

But Japanese authorities say the hunt is still on.

Watch ships sandwich activist vessel

Japan's fleet carries out an annual whale hunt despite a worldwide moratorium, taking advantage of a loophole in the law that permits the killing of the mammals for scientific research. Whale meat is commonly available for consumption in Japan.

Each year, environmental groups like Sea Shepherd pursue the Japanese hunters in an attempt to disrupt the whaling. The resulting confrontations have led to collisions of ships and the detention of activists.

Sea Shepherd said Monday that the Japanese fleet's harpoon ships are "separated by hundreds of miles." The factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, is "on the run," the environmental group claimed.

It said its three ships had ushered the Japanese fleet out of the Antarctic Treaty Zone, the internationally designated area below 60 degrees south latitude.

"Within a day and a half, we have the entire whaling fleet in disarray," said Siddarth Chakravarty, the captain of one of the Sea Shepherd ships.

Japan's Fisheries Agency, which oversees the annual hunt, said Tuesday that the whaling operation has not been halted.

It said the fleet remains in the Southern Ocean, which is generally considered to cover a similar area to the Antarctic Treaty Zone.

The agency declined to comment specifically on Sea Shepherd's claims or on the fleet's exact whereabouts.

On Monday, Sea Shepherd published photos and videos that it said showed three harpooned Minke whales lying on the deck of the Nisshin Maru and another being butchered.

The Australian government has challenged the Japanese whaling program in the International Court of Justice.

But the current hunt will continue, and Sea Shepherd activists say they'll continue to fight it.

"We have won this battle," said Adam Meyerson, another of the group's ship captains. "But the war for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary will wage on over the coming months."

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:17 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 11:09 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 5:03 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 8:56 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT