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 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 7:46 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 7:53 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT