Australian police boarded an anti-whaling ship involved in a high-seas clash with Japanese whalers and seized its logbooks and other material, the ship’s captain said yesterday.
Skipper Paul Watson said officers armed with warrants met his ship, the Steve Irwin, when it docked in the southern city of Hobart late on Friday.
The officers said they were authorized to seize video and audio recordings, photographs, notes, logbooks and navigational information, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said in a statement.
Australian police said they had launched an investigation at the request of the Japanese authorities, who this year complained after activists hurled bottles of rancid butter at the whalers and tried to board the ship.
They declined to say whether the investigation related to a specific incident.
“As a result of a formal referral from the Japanese authorities the AFP [Australian Federal Police] is currently undertaking preliminary enquiries into the events that allegedly occurred in the Southern Ocean,” a spokeswoman said.
She declined to comment on whether police boarded the ship or removed items.
Watson said Tokyo was applying acute diplomatic pressure to prevent the Sea Shepherd crew from releasing footage taken during this year’s whale hunt.
“It’s a very one-sided affair,” he said.
“The Japanese ships have not been boarded by the Australian Federal Police; they have not had their video and navigational data confiscated. They have not been questioned nor will they be, yet they violently attacked my ship and crew in the Southern Ocean,” Watson said.