Anti-whaling activists continued their pursuit of the Japanese fleet yesterday, with both sides showing beefed-up capabilities.
Sea Shepherd has three longdistance ships and the activists hurled bottles of a foul chemical on to the harpoon post of the whale chaser Yushin Maru No 3.
The Japanese chaser ships are heavily netted against projectiles or boarding.
Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson said last night that his vessels were pursuing the Japanese fleet in remote waters 1348km south-west of New Zealand.
He said it appeared the whaling fleet ships were fitted with "spurs" to deal with fouling ropes, which are used to entangle the rudder and propellers. One of the ropes was dropped into the path of a chaser ship without effect.
"They are still running," Capt. Watson said. "I don't know where they are going but as long as they are running they are not killing whales."
A Sea Shepherd boat was sunk last year after colliding with a Japanese vessel.
Pressure is growing on the Federal Government to send its new Southern Ocean patrol ship to monitor the confrontation between anti-whaling activists and the Japanese fleet.
Customs commissioned the 4500-tonne Ocean Protector in September to replace the Oceanic Viking, which monitored the whaling in 2008.
Ocean Protector was moored in Fremantle yesterday, not due to leave port for a fortnight, as the coalition and Greens stepped up calls for the vessel to be used for surveillance.
"This could be an ideal platform for Southern Ocean surveillance," opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said. "The Government needs to explain why, if it is not needed for northern border protection, it can't take on the role in independent monitoring and search and rescue."
Greens Leader Bob Brown said filmed evidence should be released to the world's media to shame the whaling fleet. "Surveillance by Australia could also prevent human lives being lost during the whale-killing season," he said.
Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research is calling for Australia, as the anti-whaling organisation Sea Shepherd's "virtual home port", to take every means available to restrain the group.
Senior Japanese officials admitted yesterday that the Sea Shepherd's actions against its fleet had stopped whalers from killing their quota of the mammals in recent years.
See video of the engagements at
Drum lines from Trigg to Hillarys as sightings surge