The Japanese have sent a fishing vessel just to follow the Steve Irwin.
For three days the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has been tailed by a mystery ship. It’s not part of the whaling fleet but it is on a mission to keep on the tail of the Steve Irwin to report every movement of the Sea Shepherd ship.
The Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 is a large drag trawler. It’s a fast ship and can easily stay out of reach of the Steve Irwin and never comes closer than 7 miles. The Sea Shepherd helicopter has flown over the ship and it is not equipped with any fishing gear that can be seen. No crew can be seen. There is evidence of electronic surveillance gear.
What is clear is that this ship has been commissioned by Japan for the sole purpose of tailing the Steve Irwin. There have been reports of armed Japanese police or military being placed on a ship and sent down to the Southern Oceans. It would make sense that they would do so covertly rather than openly. Sea Shepherd suspects that this is a government vessel or a vessel chartered by the government specifically as a defense support vessel for the Japanese fleet.
Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd.