Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is urging the Australian government to take action to stop the Japanese whale hunt in protected Antarctic waters.
As the whaling season gets under way, the Sea Shepherd is pursuing Japan’s five vessels in the Southern Ocean to disrupt and shut down their operations.
The conservation group has obtained footage of three dead minke whales, a protected species, on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, and a fourth whale, also believed to be a minke, being butchered on the ship.
Bob Brown, Sea Shepherd Australia chairman, says the group will run a peaceful but relentless campaign to defend the whales.
He urged the federal government to step in and send a customs vessel to police the activity.
“I’ve now written to the minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, asking him what action he’s taken because he said he would intervene on this but there’s little sign of that,” he told AAP.
“The pictures speak for themselves. It’s a bloody outrage.”
The Abbott government made an election promise to send a customs vessel to monitor Japanese whalers in Antarctica, but after the election promised only a plane to observe protesters and whalers in the Southern Ocean.
But Dr Brown said there is no sign of even that.
“The Australian government have effectively said to its fleet, `don’t intervene on this crime’, that’s the problem here,” he said.
“They’re Australian whales, effectively, and they’re been slaughtered, illegally.”
Sea Shepherd has three ships in Antarctic waters to confront the Japanese in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, where commercial whaling is banned.
The federal court ruled Japan’s hunt illegal in 2008 and issued an injunction against it.
But Dr Brown says Australian governments have failed to act on the ruling.
Last June, the New Zealand government joined the Australian government’s challenge to the legality of Japan’s whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary at the International Court of Justice, but a judgment has yet to be delivered.