Anti-whaling activists clashed with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean on Monday, prompting a diplomatic complaint from Tokyo to Canberra and a rebuke for the activists from the Australian government.
Members of the hardline Sea Shepherd group threw bottles and containers of foul-smelling substances at the Japanese factory ship the Nisshin Maru as part of the organization’s campaign to disrupt Japan’s annual whale hunt. Sea Shepherd’s leader Paul Watson apparently said the incident was “non-violent chemical warfare,” saying the substances thrown at the Japanese ship were harmless, foul-smelling and slippery substances, designed to make it difficult to process whales.
Three Japanese sailors were injured after the chemical cocktail splashed into the eyes of two coastguard crew and one whaler causing irritation, said an official with Japan’s Fisheries Agency in Tokyo. He declined to give the location of the incident for security reasons.
The clash between the 139-crew whaling ship and Sea Shepherd’s ship of 33 protesters follows a high-profile standoff in which two anti-whaling activists boarded another Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean in January.