Sunday February 9, 2014 – Melbourne, Australia — At 2023 AEDT on February 8, the Yushin Maru No. 3, one of three harpoon ships of the Japanese whaling fleet, entered the Australian Whale Sanctuary at the 200 nautical mile limit of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surrounding Macquarie Island, at approximately 56°38’S, 163°46’E.
The vessel entered 4.7 nautical miles into Australian waters in pursuit of Sea Shepherd’s long-range ship, The Bob Barker, before turning around and leaving the Sanctuary. The incursion lasted for approximately 30 minutes.
The harpoon ship is responsible for hitting the starboard bow of The Bob Barker during last Sunday’s nine-hour assault on the Sea Shepherd ships, in which harpoon ships crossed the bows of two Sea Shepherd vessels a total of 86 times, towing steel cable 300 metres in length. Sea Shepherd has released footage of the attack, showing the harpoon ships crossing the bows at distances as short as three metres, and the recklessness of the Yushin Maru No. 3 that resulted in the collision.
By entering Australian waters, the Japanese whaling vessel risks contempt proceedings for breaching a 2008 Australian Federal Court injunction, in which the court declared Japan’s whaling operations to be in violation of Australian Federal Law.
On Friday, Sea Shepherd notified the Australian Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, that the Yushin Maru No. 3 was approaching Australia’s EEZ, and requested his intervention on the matter. It is the second time this year that Sea Shepherd has contacted Minister Hunt to notify him of the approaching vessel. On January 10, the Minister contacted Japanese authorities following notification from Sea Shepherd that the same harpoon ship was closing in on the Australian Whale Sanctuary. The vessel subsequently stopped one-mile outside of Australia’s EEZ.
Sea Shepherd Managing Director, Jeff Hansen stated, “Australia is a whale-loving country, reflected by the fact that Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice to expose the sham of commercial whaling disguised as ‘scientific research’. While Australians anxiously await a ruling on this case, even the most brief presence of these whalers in our waters is an insult to our entire nation.”
Following the incursion of the harpoon vessel, Captain of The Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt reported that his ship is now free of the tailing Yushin Maru No. 3 and is able to resume the hunt for the Japanese whaling fleet’s butchering ship, the Nisshin Maru.
In December 2013, the Australian government committed to send an A319 aircraft, operated by Australian Customs personnel, to monitor the whale poaching operations. Sea Shepherd has not sighted the aircraft since January 12.
At 0136 NZDT this morning, the Shonan Maru No. 2, security vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet, entered New Zealand’s EEZ, tailing the Sea Shepherd conservation ship, The Steve Irwin.
Radio New Zealand has reported that the vessel entered the country’s 200 nautical mile limit, ignoring a request by the New Zealand government to stay outside of their EEZ.
Captain of The Steve Irwin, Siddarth Chakravarty, said, “While the Yushin Maru No. 3 is currently outside of Australian waters, the Shonan Maru No. 2 is making a mockery of the New Zealand government’s request to stay out of its EEZ. We urge Minister McCully to uphold New Zealand’s strong stance against the Japanese whaling fleet’s operations and demand that the whaling security vessel leaves New Zealand waters immediately.”