The Yushin Maru crosses the bow of The Bob Barker at an unsafe distanceThe Yushin Maru crosses the bow of The Bob Barker at an unsafe distanceLast night, Sunday March 2, at approximately 1715 AEDT, the Sea Shepherd conservation ship The Bob Barker was ambushed by two harpoon vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet in an unprovoked attack at 72°56’ S, 178°10’ E, inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

During the incident, the harpoon vessels crossed the bow of The Bob Barker a total of eleven times, towing steel cable in an effort to disable the propeller and rudder of the conservation ship. It was the third such attack on The Bob Barker this year.

The Bob Barker launched two small boats to defend their ship and attempt to cut the steel cables during the assault, sustaining damage of the antennas of the small boat in the process. The crew of the attacking harpoon ship also threw a bamboo spear at the crew of the small boat, but no Sea Shepherd crew was injured.

The two previous night time ambushes were aimed to deter Sea Shepherd from guarding the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the factory vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet. However, in this most recent attack, the Nisshin Maru was 40 nautical miles away from conservation ship, and not even visible on radar.

Buoy marks steel cable being trailed across The Bob Barker in an attempt to disable their propeller and rudderBuoy marks steel cable being trailed across The Bob Barker in an attempt to disable their propeller and rudderEarlier on Sunday, the Sea Shepherd Fleet located the whalers for the fourth time this year. The factory vessel was found with a dead, protected Minke Whale onboard, and blood running from the side of the ship. Slabs of whale meat were also filmed on the deck, along with the severed head of a recently butchered whale.

Australian Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, and New Zealand Search and Rescue were both notified of the attack while it was underway.

Five days ago, Captain Peter Hammarstedt of The Bob Barker wrote an open letter to Minister Hunt, expressing his disappointment at the lack of action from the Australian government in relation to the recent attacks on his ship and crew, which includes nine Australian citizens.

Captain Hammarstedt said, “My plea to Greg Hunt has gone unanswered and now I can say without a doubt that the Australian government has failed in its duty to take any action against the poachers of the Japanese whaling fleet. They knew this attack was imminent, and yet they did nothing. Hunt’s broken promises to monitor the whaling operations are evident in the broken bodies of the whales killed today. The Australian government has abandoned not only the whales of the Southern Ocean, but also the brave Australian citizens who have stood up to protect them. Sea Shepherd will remain vigilant in our defence of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, enforcing international conservation law when governments refuse to take action.”

Sea Shepherd remains the only organisation in the Southern Ocean committed to upholding the sanctity of the Whale Sanctuary, directly intervening against the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.

photos: Simon Ager

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