Underwatertimes.com News Service - January 5, 2012 19:19 EST

Japan's fisheries agency reported today that Sea Shepherd activists have interrupted the hunt for whales for the first time this season.

The text of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research press release follows:

On 4 January the Yushin Maru No. 3 (YS3), a Japanese Antarctic whale research (JARPAII) vessel was subjected to attack by the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker (BB). The attack lasted from around 1800 to 2330JST.

Around 1800JST activists aboard two rubber boats sent from the BB approached the Japanese vessel and started to deploy and tow ropes and wires aimed to disable the YS3 rudder and propeller. The rubber boats cut across the Japanese vessel's bow more than 30 times and further deployed buoy-fitted ropes just in front of the YS3 bow 8 times. In addition, during these actions the radar mast of one of the rubber boats came into contact with the YS3 portside bow.

During the attack the YS3 broadcasted a warning message and made use of its water pump as a preventive measure to make activists desist from further approaching. There were no injuries to the Japanese crew. Up to the present damage to the YS3 from the activists' attack has not been confirmed.

Japan's research whaling in the Antarctic (JARPAII) is a perfectly legal activity carried out under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). 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. Once again we call on all related countries including the Netherlands which is the BB's flag State, and Australia, the port State of the Sea Shepherd vessels, to take every measure available to restrain them and deal with their criminal actions in a strict and objective manner according to their international and domestic obligations.