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Last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 07 January 2014

Anti-whaling activists

Summary

6 January 2014

Australian anti-whaling activists say they're following a Japanese fleet of ships they say has killed four whales in the Southern Ocean. The activists say the whales were killed within a protected whale sanctuary. It's the first such incident this whaling season.

Reporter:

Jon Donnison

A southern right whale

A southern right whale swimming in the ocean

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Report

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says its boats are following five Japanese ships. The group released video footage apparently showing three dead whales on board, as well as a heavily bloodied deck where another whale appears to have been butchered.

Sea Shepherd says the whales were killed within the internationally designated Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. There is a worldwide ban on the commercial fishing of whales but the Japanese maintain their whaling is for scientific research, which falls outside the ban.

Last year Australia took Japan to the International Court of Justice in an attempt to force it to cease whaling. A decision on the case is expected later this year. But environmentalists here have criticised the Australian government for not doing enough to stop the Japanese.

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Vocabulary

footage

piece of film showing a particular event

bloodied

covered in blood

butchered

killed and cut into pieces

designated

officially chosen for a special purpose

sanctuary

protected and safe place

to cease

to stop

environmentalists

people who try to protect natural places from damage caused by human activity