The United Nations' International Court of Justice will give its verdict regarding Japan's whaling activities in Antarctic waters on March 31. Australia has filed a legal challenge with anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd leading the way.
Since the legal challenge, both the Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet have traded accusations against each other. Japan's Fisheries agency has spoken up about Australia-based Sea Shepherd's accusations that it "attacked" one of its ships on Feb 23. According to a report from a Japanese news agency, the Sea Shepherd has "seriously hampered" its whaling research programme in the Antarctic Ocean when ropes thrown by the anti-whaling group in front of the Yushin Maru No 3 and the Yushin Maru had become entangled in the ships' propellers.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency said one of its ships was damaged from the heavy metal weights attached to the ropes. Sea Shepherd has claimed that the Japanese whaling ship "attacked" its ship in the dark in what it described as a "ruthless assault."
According to reports, the Japanese whaling fleet had allegedly disabled the Sea Shepherd ship in the Southern Ocean. The anti-whaling organisation based in Australia said two Japanese whaling ships had ambushed its ship, Bob Barker. The Japanese whaling ships had reportedly tried to jam the Bob Barker's propellers and rubbers.
The Sea Shepherd has been chasing after the Japanese whaling fleet in an attempt to deter its efforts in catching and killing whales. The anti-whaling group has claimed it has saved 750 whales from the harpoons of the Japanese whaling ship. The group has returned to shore after their longest anti-whaling efforts in the Southern Ocean.
Japan to follow UN ruling
According to reports, Japan will abide by the ruling of the "world court" which settles disputes between nations. New Zealand supported Australia in June 2013 to challenge the legality of Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the International Court of Justice. Murray McCully, New Zealand's minister of foreign affairs, released a statement on Jan 6 and condemned the so-called "scientific whaling" in the Southern Ocean. The government of New Zealand has continuously appealed to Japan to stop its whaling activities.