Sea Shepherd finds Japanese ship 'with slaughtered whale'

"The fact that the Japanese crew went to cover up their harpoons and the dead minke whale on deck just shows that they know what they're doing is wrong", says Captain Wyanda Lublink of the MY Steve Irwin.

Sea Shepherd released photographs of a dead minke whale on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, a factory ship, adding that the vessel's crew covered the carcass with a tarp when its helicopter approached.

This is the second time the Japanese whaling fleet has returned to the Southern Ocean since an International Court of Justice ruling in 2014 that such activities contravened the rules of the International Whaling Commission.

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.

Glenn Lockitch  Sea Shepherd Global
Sea Shepherd said the ship's crew quickly covered the whale after being spotted by a helicopter
Glenn Lockitch Sea Shepherd Global Sea Shepherd said the ship's crew quickly covered the whale after being spotted by a helicopter

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was accused of turning a blind eye to whaling by conservationists before meeting Japan's Shinzo Abe.

"The whale killers from the Nisshin Maru were caught red-handed slaughtering whales in the Australian Whale sanctuary", said Captain Adam Meyerson of the Ocean Warrior, Sea Shepherd's new Southern Ocean patrol ship.

Japan's so-called "scientific research" program used to justify the killing of whales has been rejected by the International Court of Justice and the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee. But it exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for the purposes of "scientific research".

A Japanese whaling vessel has been photographed with what appears to be a dead minke whale onboard, a violation of a 2014 global court ruling that banned hunting of the animals.

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Whale hunting in the Southern Ocean has created tension between Australia and Japan. In Sea Shepherd's past 10 campaigns over 6,000 whales have been spared the grenade-tipped harpoons of the illegal Japanese whaling fleet.

Sea Shepherd has explained how the whale has met its death, which a representative described as "bloody". The crew reportedly tried to hide the whale by covering it with a tarpaulin.

More than 10,000 whales have been killed in the region since 1988.

"Australia is opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called "scientific" whaling", he said, as cited by the Guardian.

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As Daniel Flitton from The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Japan reportedly shipped home 333 dead minkes - including about 200 pregnant cows - over the past 12 months, under the guise of scientific research.

Their goal is to pursue the whaling fleet through the waters of the sanctuary, thus preventing further killings of the animals.

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