Environmental activists threw paint and foul smelling acid at whaling ships in the Antarctic ocean in a fresh bid to halt the annual hunt, Japanese authorities said Thursday.
The Institute of Cetacean Research, a quasi-public body that runs Japan’s whaling programmes, said members of militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd threw bottles of paint and butyric acid, found in rancid butter, at the Yushin Maru No. 2.
The activists used small boats from the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and also hurled ropes in an attempt to stop the whaler by disabling its rudder and propellers.
The latest attack came shortly after Japan decided to release three Australian activists from a different anti-whaling group who had climbed on board another vessel.
“The Institute of Cetacean Research strongly condemns the Sea Shepherd and its continued dangerous and violent actions against Japanese vessels and crews in the Antarctic,” it said in a statement, released late Wednesday.
The institute called on “all related countries” to make efforts to “restrain them and deal with their criminal actions in a strict and objective manner according to their international and domestic obligations.”
It also reiterated its call to the Netherlands, where the Steve Irwin is registered, to rein in the boat.
“Japan’s research whaling in the Antarctic is a perfectly legal activity carried out under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling,” the institute said.
Three activists from the Forest Rescue Australia environmental group boarded the Shonan Maru No. 2 on Sunday in waters off Australia’s west coast.
Diplomatic manoeuvres between Canberra and Tokyo resulted in the announcement that the three would be returned to Australia and would not enter the Japanese justice system.
Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan has since 1987 used a loophole to carry out “lethal research” on the creatures in the name of science.