War of the whales

Japanese boat rams Sea Shepherd vessels, marine conservationists claim

Anti-whaling activists have claimed a Japanese ship intentionally rammed two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society boats near Antarctica.

Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation organization known for its bold intrusions on the activities of whaling operations, said its vessels, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, were rammed by the Japanese boat Nisshin Maru, according to The Huffington Post. Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said the Japanese vessel rammed the organization’s boats while attempting to reach a refueling tanker. Japan’s Fisheries Agency offered a different account, claiming unprovoked Sea Shepherd vessels rammed the Nisshin Maru.

Japan has long maintained its whaling activities are for research purposes, an allowed exception by the international whaling ban. Anti-whaling activists say that such whaling is actually for commercial purposes.

“The government condemns so-called ‘scientific’ whaling in all waters,” said Tony Burke, Australia’s environment minister.