13 Feb 2010

Japanese minister furious at new whaling clash

9:01 am on 13 February 2010

Japanese authorities have lashed out at anti-whaling activists they say injured crew members aboard a whaling ship in Antarctic waters.

Japan says three sailors suffered facial injuries from stink bombs hurled by the activists on Thursday. Fisheries minister Hirotaka Akamatsu says the clash has left him furious.

During a five-hour confrontation, activists from the Sea Shepherd conservation group fired rancid butter, or butyric acid, at the whalers.

Both sides also sprayed each other with water cannon.

Japan says its sailors suffered minor acid-splash chemical injuries from the butyric acid but Sea Shepherd denies anyone was injured in the incident, saying its stink bombs do not cause harm, even when they come in contact with the skin.

Sea Shepherd says its boat was trying to stop the Japanese fleet from entering the whale sanctuary when three Japanese boats attacked it with water cannon overnight on Thursday.

Paul Watson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin, says the Japanese boats were the aggressors.