Whaling in Antarctic waters not only threatens whale populations – it also poses a huge risk to this particularly fragile, wild environment. Japanese whaling vessels have been known to refuel slap bang in the middle of these Antarctic waters: watch the footage.

Recently, Japanese whaling vessel, the Yushin Maru 2, was damaged in Antarctic waters and had to return to port. Australia has a longstanding policy not to allow whaling vessels to dock here so the hunting vessel slinked off to Surabaya, Indonesia.

But thanks to a great effort by local environmental groups in Indonesia, the Government there also said it wouldn’t be allowing the vessel to make repairs in order to head back to Antarctic waters to continue the killings. With the Yushin Maru 2 out of action, we believe that the Yushin Maru 2 wont be able to return to hunt whales in the near future … which means some whales are saved.

The incident highlights the ongoing environmental risk posed by the Japanese whaling fleet operating in these waters. For many years now, Greenpeace has highlighted the environmental dangers of the whaling fleet operating in Antarctic waters. Last year, we drew attention to the refuelling of the whaling fleet when we sent an inflatable boat in to delay the process. The fire aboard the whaling fleet’s mother ship, the Nisshin Maru in 2007 was another real example of the whaler’s threatening Antarctica’s environment.

Well, yesterday, an expert panel of lawyers proposed opening up a new front to challenge Japan’s whaling operations – the Antarctic Treaty System. The treaty system is designed to protect one of the most pristine areas of wilderness left on the planet from exploitation and has been signed by more than 40 countries.