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Sea Shepherd catches Japanese fleet killing whale in sanctuary in Australia

L’organizzazione conservazionista ha intercettato la flotta baleniera giapponese nel santuario delle balene nell’Oceano Antartico, area in cui è vietata la caccia ai cetacei.

Despite international law and the disapproval from all over the world, Japan continues killing whales, perpetrating an anachronistic and cruel practice.

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Dead mink whale photographed on the deck of Japanese Nisshin Maru whaler from a Sea Shepherd helicopter © Sea Shepherd Global/Glenn Lockitch

Violating the Australian whale sanctuary, once again

Japanese whalers, which set sail from Shimonoseki harbour on 18 November with the aim of hunting 333 mink whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), headed to the Southern Ocean, home to the Australian whale sanctuary. The area expands for 50 million square kilometres in Antarctica and plays a crucial role for whales. In fact, most of whales feed in these waters, which have been designated as sanctuary in 1994 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Japan acts as it is above the law

Japan claims the sanctuary is illegal and doesn’t recognise Australia’s sovereignty on such area. Indeed, the country regularly kills whale inside the sanctuary despite the Australian Federal Court already fined a Japanese whaling company for hunting inside the protected area.

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Japan’s whaling fleet – claiming to hunt for scientific purposes – kills hundreds of whales inside the whale sanctuary each year © Sea Shepherd Global/Glenn Lockitch

Sea Shepherd caught Japanese whalers in sanctuary

After five weeks of patrolling the Antarctic Ocean, Sea Shepherd, the conservation organisation that fights against the slaughter of wild species populating the ocean, has spotted a Japanese whaler inside the Australian sanctuary with a dead mink whale on the ship deck. This is the first documented killing since 2014, when the International Court of Justice rejected the scientific research plan submitted by Japan, making whaling illegal.

Japanese whalers try to hide evidence, but it’s too late

The Nisshin Maru whaler has been photographed from a helicopter of Sea Shepherd’s MY Steve Irwin on 15 December. The Japanese crew tried to hide evidence, covering the whale with a tarpaulin and trying to hide the harpoons. “The whale killers from the Nisshin Maru were caught red-handed slaughtering whales in the Australian whale sanctuary,” said Adam Meyerson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd patrol ship Ocean Warrior. “The Steve Irwin has shut down their illegal operations and caught them trying to hide the evidence.”

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When the Japanese crew saw Sea Shepherd’s helicopter, it tried to hide the dead mink whale. But it was too late © Sea Shepherd Global / Glenn Lockitch)

Australia must implement countermeasures

Waiting for Australia to comment on the facts and to take action against the violation of its territorial waters by Japanese whalers, Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen denounces a lack of firmness of Australia’s government. “A lack of action by the Turnbull government in response to the killing of whales in Australian waters on the tail of a state visit from Abe showed the government has no spine when it comes to protecting the wishes of Australians to defend the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary”.

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