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Anti-whaling activist boats rammed by Japanese ship in Australian Antarctic waters


15:53, February 20, 2013

CANBERRA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd claimed two of its boats had been rammed by a Japanese ship in Australian Antarctic waters on Wednesday.

According to the activists, the attacks happened after they were ordered to leave the area by one of the boats in the Japanese whaling fleet. The factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, repeatedly rammed the Steve Irwin and then the Bob Barker pushed it into a Korean re-fuelling boat.

Jeff Hansen, spokesman for Sea Shepherd, said the conflict is escalating, but no injuries have been reported.

Australia Environment Minister Tony Burke said he is trying to confirm the reports. "Let's wait until I can get those reports confirmed, but I won't be going quiet once I get the information," he told ABC reporters.

Australian Greens marine spokesperson Rachel Siewert said she couldn't believe the inaction by the government. "The government has the capacity to do far more to end the threat of whaling in Australian waters, but they remain reluctant to step up to the plate," Siewert said in a statement on Wednesday.

And opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the incident should force the government to "finally open its eyes" and "put a cop on the beat".

"We wrote three times in December to the prime minister warning of a risk of conflict and collision between whalers and protesters, " Hunt told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

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