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Japanese whaling boat caught operating illegally in Australian waters

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-16 10:00

Japanese whaling boat caught operating illegally in Australian waters

A handout photo made available by activist group Sea Shepherd allegedly shows a dead Antarctic mink whale onboard the Japanese vessel Nisshin Maru in Antarctic waters in the Australian Whale Sanctury, January 15, 2017. [Photo/IC]

SYDNEY - A Japanese whaling ship has allegedly been caught operating illegally in Australian waters.

The Nisshin Maru, a Japanese vessel, was caught in Australian waters between Tasmania and Antarctica with a dead whale on board by a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) helicopter.

The group released images taken by the helicopter of the vessel with a dead protected minke whale on board and two harpoon ships nearby.

Josh Frydenberg, Australia's Environment Minister, said the Australian government was "deeply disappointed" that Japan had resumed whaling.

In a statement issued on Monday Frydenberg said that Australia was "opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling."

"It is not necessary to kill whales in order to study them," he said.

"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."

Tony Burke, Frydenberg's Opposition counterpart, also issued a statement, criticizing the "slaughter under the guise of scientific research'."

"Japanese whaling ships have been sighted with their harpoons uncovered in the Southern Ocean, where a moratorium on whaling in currently in effect," he said.

"This is happening in areas Australia recognises as being protected."

Jeff Hansen, a member of Sea Shepherd, said that crew on board the Nisshin Maru quickly covered the whale with a tarpaulin once they spotted the helicopter.

"They're hit with an explosive harpoon that goes straight into their body, hooks come out and shrapnel is sent through their body, it's a terrible bloody death... these whales can take up to 30 or 40 minutes to die," Hansen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"A soon as the whaling fleet saw that Sea Shepherd on the scene, they were scrambling to cover up their illegal operations, they were covering up their harpoons

"This is all happening deep in Australia's whale sanctuary off the Antarctic coast."

The incident occurred as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Australia to meet with Australia's PM Malcolm Turnbull about the two nations' relationship.

"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," Hansen said.

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