How Sea Shepherd lost battle against Japan’s whale hunters in Antarctic

The Southern Ocean was a sanctuary – but now Japan’s boats have military hardware and conservationists can no longer track them

Sea Shepherd conservationists on board their ship, the Steve Irwin
 Sea Shepherd conservationists on board their ship, the Steve Irwin, approach a Japanese ‘scientific’ whaler near Antarctica in 2008. Photograph: Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd/Reuters

A fleet of Japanese ships is currently hunting minke whales in the Southern Ocean. It is a politically incendiary practice: the waters around Antarctica were long ago declared a whale sanctuary, but the designation has not halted Japan’s whalers, who are continuing a tradition of catching whales “for scientific research” in the region.

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