The Australian government must send the navy to Antarctic waters after a Japanese whaling ship was accused of ramming two protest vessels, says former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown.
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says the Nisshin Maru rammed the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker protest ships in the Southern Ocean, north of Australia's Casey Research Station in Antarctica.
Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson posted an item about the alleged incident on his Facebook page this afternoon, and told 3 News the boat was hit “multiple times.”
“[It] has lost power, toppled the main mast, smashed up the deck.”
He alleges the Japanese crew threw stun grenades at the Sea Shepherd ships, but says no one was hurt.
“They’re frustrated we’ve prevented refuelling operations for two days.”
He said both Sea Shepherd vessels were holding their positions although the Bob Barker had been taking on water in its engine room.
Dr Brown, who is a director of Sea Shepherd Australia, told reporters in Melbourne the incident was a “gross breach of international law by the Japanese.”
"I'm calling the Australian government to dispatch naval vessels now - not just to film the slaughter of the whales by the Antarctic fleet but to restore international law breach of international law by the Japanese.”
"Tokyo is not in control of ... Australian waters."
Captain Watson says the Bob Barker, with 38 crew, was hit a number of times as it tried to stop the Nisshin Maru from refuelling.
The confrontation comes after the US Supreme Court this month upheld an injunction ordering Sea Shepherd to keep away from Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean.