After a collision in the Southern Ocean between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships and a Japanese whaling vessel, the conservation group has issued new footage of the Nisshin Maru pushing the Bob Barker into a South Korean fuel tanker.
Sea Shepherd Australia released the video in response to claims by the Japanese government's Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), that it was the anti-whaling group who was at fault for an altercation that left three SSCS ships damaged in the Southern Ocean.
According to SSCS, on Feb 20, the whaling fleet's ginormous factory ship -- the Nisshin Maru, rammed four ships in one hour, damaging the Sam Simon, the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker plus the South Korean fuel tanker, the Sun Laurel -- the whaler's refueling vessel. The 8,000 tonne factory vessel then left the scene said SSCS.
Shortly after the incident occurred, the ICR and the government of Japan announced that it had temporarily suspended the hunt due to the inability to refuel. Their statement was swiftly followed by another exonerating themselves of the incident and placing the blame back onto the anti-whaling group.
In a new press release, Sea Shepherd Australia said it is releasing further footage which offers a more "compelling vision" into the incident. The video they say, shows that the Nisshin Maru:
Intentionally rammed the Sea Shepherd ships (SSS) Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and Sam Simon, as well as its own fuel tanker, the Sun Laurel.
The whaling vessels actions they added, pushed:
The Dutch-flagged, Dutch-owned, Australian operated ship, Bob Barker, into the Japanese whaling fleet's fuel tanker, the Sun Laurel, almost capsizing the Sea Shepherd ship and smashing down on the bridge of the Bob Barker.
Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen stated:
For the whalers to suggest that it was Sea Shepherd that rammed their massive illegal factory ship, is like a convicted hit and run criminal saying that it was the pedestrian that ran into their car. It’s simply another poor attempt by these poachers to gain some sort of sympathy for their blatant illegal poaching of whales in an established whale sanctuary, in violation of an Australian Federal Court Ruling.
Sea Shepherd had hoped that the whaling fleet might now head home, however according to The Japan Daily Press, an official with Japan’s Fisheries Agency told Agence France-Presse, that the collision with Sea Shepherd vessels had not permanently suspended the hunt for this season.
The Daily Press also added that two videos released from the Japanese ships "at least cast doubt on Sea Shepherd’s account of what took place, showing their ships intentionally steering into the path of Japan’s vessels."
The second video is of a news report by Fiji News Network. The majority of the report consists of images rather than actual video, but the sheer size difference between the massive Nisshin Maru and the Sea Shepherd fleet, is clear.
The Australian Federal Government has been criticized for refusing to take a stand on the issue even though it condemns whaling in a supposed sanctuary. A 2008 Australian federal court ruling forbade the killing of whales in the waters of the Australian Antarctic territory. Japan hunts whales under an International Whaling Commission loophole that allows hunting for research.
Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday condemned the actions of the whalers but declined requests to send in the navy fearing the issue could only deteriorate further.
Captain Paul Watson spoke of the incident between the ships on Facebook today. He said:
The man behind the helm of the Nisshin Maru is Captain Tomoyuki Ogawa. He seems to be a graduate of the Japanese Marine Academy for Demolition Derby seamanship and now holds the world record for the number of ships rammed in a one hour time period, that number being four. I am quite sure such a feat has never been done before outside of a naval battle.
Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd Australia said their newly released video is "clear footage of who rammed who". The organizations' director -- Jeff Hansen, added:
To see this massive bully factory whaling ship, that dwarfs the Bob Barker vessel, come crashing down on the bridge section is a clear indication that these whale poachers have absolutely no respect for not only cetaceans, but also human life.