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 10:43 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
updated 9:31 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
updated 12:34 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
updated 11:17 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
updated 1:28 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 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