Japanese whalers have captured three Australian environmental activists who illegally boarded the Shonan Maru 2 whaling support vessel over the weekend.
Simon Peterffy (44), Geoffrey Tuxworth (47), and Glen Pendlebury (27) carried out their mission on Saturday evening, a couple of kilometers off the south-west coast of Western Australia.
The three Forest Rescue members and crew members of the Sea Shepard's Steve Irwin say they came on board the whaling support ship in Australia's territorial waters, but the Japanese authorities reject this claim.
The trio therefore faces the risk of being subjected to Japanese maritime law. It is expected they will be detained on board the Shonan Maru 2 before it sets sail for Japan in a couple of months from now.
"We hope that it won't come to that, but you do have to look at the past to know that it is likely these three Australians may be taken back to Japan," Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon was quoted by the media.
"The boarding of this vessel has occurred in a zone where we do not have direct jurisdiction", she confirmed.
In 2010 Sea Shepard activist Peter Bethune received a suspended sentence after boarding the Shonan Maru 2.
Bethune's objective was the citizen's arrest of the ship's captain after ramming the Ady Gil anti-whaling vessel of which he was captain.
"All I wanted was justice for the loss of my boat, the Ady Gil, and the attempted murder of my crew," Bethune said on his court day, now almost 2 years ago.
Roxon added that the Australian government has embarked on a mission to persuade Japan to release of the three protesters, trying avoid a diplomatic nightmare. Japan and Australia have strong bilateral economic, defense and political ties
The tricky part of this is that the Shonan Maru II is not allowed to dock at any Australian port if it does decide to release the eco-warriors.