Monday, February 09, 2009

Whale crusaders on collision course

AN all-out war is close to breaking out on the high seas as the Japanese continue to slaughter whales while die-hard protesters use any means possible to try to stop them.In the treacherous Southern Ocean early yesterday, protest ship the Steve Irwin collided with the Japanese whaling ship, Yushin Maru No.2, sparking outcry among crew aboard both vessels.While the Federal Government has again urged for calm amid growing tensions, the situation could get worse before it gets better.The Japanese are in the middle of their annual whale hunt and are currently trawling the Ross Sea, a deep bay of the Southern Ocean, for minke whales.Captain Paul Watson from the Steve Irwin said his crew were in the process of blocking the transfer of a dead whale up the slipway of the other Japanese vessel, the Nisshin Maru, when a third Japanese vessel moved directly in front of the bow to block him."I could not turn to starboard without hitting the Yushin Maru,'' he said. ``I tried to back down but the movement of the Yushin Maru made the collision unavoidable.''Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, which justifies killing whales as valuable scientific research, said the Steve Irwin "deliberately'' rammed the Japanese ship."While no one was injured, the circumstances could have been much worse, even fatal,'' the director-general of the Institute of Cetacean Research Monoru Morimoto said.Mr Morimoto said after the ``ramming'', crew from the Steve Irwin allegedly threw bottles containing acid at the Yushin Maru No.2 and the Nisshin Maru. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which crews the Steve Irwin, said the whalers had "decided to test our resolve''."They have escalated this battle to see just how determined we are to protect whales,'' first officer Peter Hammarstedt said.Source: Daily Telegraph

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