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Japanese whalers clash with activists

[ 2009-12-24 13:07]     字号 [] [] []  
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Japanese whalers and militant conservationists have clashed in the Antarctic Ocean over two days, with weapons including water cannon, blinding lasers and bottles of rancid acid, both sides said yesterday.

Each accused the other of coming dangerously close during the clashes. Neither reported any injuries or ship damage.

The New Zealand-registered Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Ady Gil came within 20 meters of colliding with the bow of Japanese harpoon ship Sonan Maru No 2 yesterday, the Japanese government-sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research said.

The activists tried to blind the Japanese crew with lasers and "fired ball-like projectiles with a projectile-launching device" during an attack which lasted 3.5 hours, the statement said.

Sea Shepherd accused the Japanese of using crowd-control sound technology known as a Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs, as well as water cannon against the Ady Gil crew. The activists said they responded with lasers to get the Japanese to back off to a safe distance.

Speaking by satellite phone to the Australian newpaper, Captain Paul Watson said his ship was being followed by a Japanese security escort employing "military-style tactics.

Sea Shepherd makes an annual attempt to stop Japanese whalers from harpooning hundreds of whales during the southern hemisphere summer, which began this month.

This year's encounter was likely to soon turn violent, Watson warned.

"They've been on our tail ever since we left Fremantle," he told The Australian. "I can't really move on to find the fleet because with them on our tail they simply relay our position and the fleet gets out of the way," he said.

The Japanese said the attack yesterday was more dangerous than a confrontation late on Tuesday between the same whaler and Sea Shepherd's Netherlands-registered flag ship Steve Irwin.

The Japanese accuse both Sea Shepherd ships of trailing ropes in failed bids to entangle the whaler's rudder and propeller.

The whalers also accused the Steve Irwin crew of hurling bottles of butyric acid - a rancid liquid that occurs in spoiled butter - during a two-hour conflict on Tuesday.

Sea Shepherd makes an annual attempt to stop Japanese whalers from harpooning hundreds of whales during the southern hemisphere summer, which began this month.

The first clash of the current whaling season happened Dec 14 when the Steve Irwin and Sonan Maru No 2 exchanged water-cannon fire.

Japan's whale hunts are allowed under international rules as a research program, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunts.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Japanese whalers clash with activists

About the broadcaster:

Japanese whalers clash with activists

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.