The marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has released footage of Japanese factory whaling ship Nisshin Maru with a dead minke whale on its deck.
The dead whale, spotted from a helicopter belonging to Sea Shepherd’s marine vessel Steve Irwin, is the first to be documented since the 2014 ruling by the International Court of Justice against whaling operations in the Antarctic, according to the group.
For the past five weeks, Sea Shepherd has been patrolling the Southern Ocean in search of illegal whalers with its two ships, the Steve Irwin and a fast new patrol vessel, the Ocean Warrior.
Yesterday the activists released aerial photos, showing a minke whale on the flensing deck of the Japanese vessel. Minke whales, which grow to 8-9 metres long, are a small type of baleen whale found throughout the Southern Ocean.
Sea Shepherd claims that Nisshin Maru was spotted in the protected waters of the Australian Whale Sanctuary, an area where it is an offence to kill, injure or interfere with any cetacean. Upon seeing the helicopter, the Japanese crew promptly covered the body of the whale with a tarpaulin.
Dark blue marks the waters of the Australian Whale Sanctuary, with a red circle marking the area where Nisshin Maru was sighted according to Sea Shepherd.
MAP BY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY/NAT GEO
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on an official visit to Australia over the weekend, and met with PM Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday evening, a day before the photos of the slaughtered whale were released.
Sea Shepherd spokesperson Jeff Hansen told ABC News that the group handed the visuals over to the Federal Government, urging it to take immediate action.
"It shows that even with the Japan Prime Minister on Australian soil, Japan is going about their bloody business ignoring the Australian Federal Court ruling, ignoring the wishes of the International Court of Justice,” he said.
The crew of Nisshin Maru covered up the body of the whale once
the helicopter approached.
PHOTO SUPPLIED BY SEA SHEPHERD.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said today he was deeply disappointed that Japan had resumed whaling in Antarctica, and reiterated that Australia is opposed to all forms of whaling.
"We will continue our efforts in the International Whaling Commission to strongly oppose commercial whaling and so-called 'scientific' whaling, uphold the moratorium on commercial whaling, and to promote whale conservation," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile the ship Steve Irwin is currently on a course to intercept the Japanese whaling vessel, and the group is currently not disclosing the location of its other ship Ocean Warrior “for strategic purposes.”
Their goal is to pursue the whaling fleet through the waters of the sanctuary, thus preventing further killings of the animals.