"We must never forget that Japan is targeting threatened and endangered whales in an officially established whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling and in defiance and contempt of an Australian Federal Court ruling prohibiting the killing of whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory," said Sea Shepherd International Executive Director Kim McCoy.

In an unconfirmed claim from a government official to Sea Shepherd it was reported that Japan threatened to cancel the loading of three iron ore shipments unless Australia agreed to not send a government ship down to monitor the activities of the whaling fleet.

"Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and now the Australian government has sold out the whales for a load of rust," said Captain Watson.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed on the 7th of December from Newcastle in New South Wales after taking on a full load of fuel, oil and provisions.