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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-05-09 08:07 PM
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Protest ship rams whaler
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Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Sea Shepherd's ship the Steve Irwin collides with the stern of Japanese harpoon whaling ship, the Yushin Maru No. 2 while factory ship the Nisshin Maru (background) processes a newly caught minke whale.

A protest ship in the Southern Ocean has rammed a Japanese whaling vessel in what protesters say is the most intense clash the two groups have ever had. Captain Paul Watson, from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said his ship, the Steve Irwin, was forced to hit the Japanese ship Yushin Maru No. 2 about 8.30am (AEDT).

Mr Watson said his protest ship was trying to stop the Japanese from pulling a whale onto a ship when the clash happened. "The Yushin Maru No. 1 was transferring the whale up the slipway and we were trying to block that transfer and the Yushin Maru No. 2 just shot right in front of us," Mr Watson said, speaking via satellite phone.

"I couldn't move to starboard without hitting the vessel and I couldn't move to port without hitting them. "I tried to back off, but it was too sudden and we ran right into their stern ... they threw themselves right in front of us. There wasn't anything we could do". Mr Watson said he crushed a railing at the back of the Japanese ship but was unaware of anyone being injured. He said in the five years his ships had been confronting the Japanese in Antarctic waters, this season had seen the most extreme clashes.

"This has certainly been the most intense confrontation we have had with the Japanese whalers over the last five campaigns we have had down here," Mr Watson said. "We have never seen them this aggressive. They are obviously frustrated at the money they are losing and they have been ordered to do whatever needs to be done in order to prevent us from preventing them from killing whales."

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