27 Dec 2008

Anti-whalers harass Japanese vessel

2:24 pm on 27 December 2008

An anti-whaling group claims it's succeeding in its mission to prevent the Japanese from whaling in the Southern Ocean this summer.

This follows an encounter on Friday night between a Japanese whaling vessel and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship Steve Irwin.

Steve Irwin crew members hurled rotten butter on board the other ship before the two vessels collided off the coast of Australia's Antarctic Territory. Both were slightly damaged.

Steve Irwin captain Paul Watson says the society is succeeding in its mission but a spokesperson for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Glen Inwood, describes the crew of the Steve Irwin as a "terrorist vigilante group" and says the whaler has every right to carry out research in Australian waters.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says an Australian court ruling bans the Japanese ship from entering Australian waters, but Mr Inwood says the International Whaling Commission has recognised Japan's legal right to conduct research in Australian waters.

He says the only people bound by Australian Antarctic Territory obligations are Australians.