At 0540 EADT on Friday the Sea Shepherd vessel Ocean Warrior intercepted one of the harpoon ships of the Japanese whaling fleet.
Sea Shepherd says the vessel was deep inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary: approximately 64 15' S 115 06' E 165nm NE of Casey Base inside the Australian Whale sanctuary and EEZ.
Sea Shepherd's vessels, the Steve Irwin and Ocean Warrior are now looking for the main vessel used for slaughtering whales, the Nisshin Maru.
The conditions have been very foggy, and whaling conditions have been poor.
With the International Court of Justice Ruling finding Japans whaling to be illegal, Sea Shepherd is calling on the Australian Government to send a vessel to oppose whaling by Japan in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.
Sea Shepherd will defend the whales in the Southern Ocean, in the interim, it says.
Ocean Warrior Captain Adam Meyerson stated, "The crews of the Ocean Warrior and the Steve Irwin have been battling through thick fog and ice to protect the whales in the Australian whale sanctuary. Finding one of the hunter killer ships hiding behind an iceberg in a thick fog means that the rest of the fleet is nearby. We all hope to have whaling in the Southern Ocean shut down by Christmas."
The two Sea Shepherd vessels are carrying a total of 50 crew members from eight different countries: Australia, Germany, France, UK, Austria, Spain, Canada and the United States.
Japan’s “scientific research” program used to justify the killing of whales was rejected by the International Court of Justice in a 2014 decision.
The court ruled by 12 votes to four against Japan, and ordered it to revoke scientific permits issued under the program. At the time, the Japanese government told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the court's jurisdiction “does not apply to ... any dispute arising out of, concerning, or relating to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea.”
In 2015, the Australian Federal Court fined the Japanese whalers $AU1 million for hunting within an Australian whale sanctuary, however the fine remains unpaid.