By Karlis Salna
Conservation group Sea Shepherd has appealed to the New Zealand and Australian governments to reveal the location of a Japanese fleet hunting hundreds of whales in the Southern Ocean.
The Japanese fleet, which this year plans to kill as many as 333 minke whales, has faced little or no scrutiny since arriving in the waters south of Australia in mid-December.
The hunting grounds have also doubled in size, making the task of tracking the fleet much harder for Sea Shepherd and its ship the Steve Irwin, which arrived in the same waters three weeks ago.
Having searched to no avail, the conservation group today called on the New Zealand and Australian governments to provide the co-ordinates for the Japanese fleet, so that it could be intercepted by the Steve Irwin.
"Sea Shepherd was expecting that Australia or New Zealand would uphold their obligations as responsible members of the International Whaling Commission, to send a ship to intercept the Japanese whaling fleet," Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said.
"This does not seem to be something Australia or New Zealand are willing to do."
Sea Shepherd believes the Australian and New Zealand authorities know the location of the fleet.
A spokesman for the conservation group said today that while the Japanese had been able to carry on with their hunt for months without anyone watching, it could still be disrupted if the authorities provided the location.
The Japanese fleet usually returns to port in about mid-March.
"If we got the co-ordinates we could be on them very quickly. Even if they've got some of their quota, we could halt any further killing," Sea Shepherd spokesman, Adam Burling, said.