Japanese whale hunt puts pressure on Australian minister

Anti-whaling activists said onMonday they had captured images of Japanese ships killingprotected whales inside an internationally recognised whalesanctuary, sparking criticism of the Australian government'shandling of the issue.

The aerial footage released by the Sea Shepherd ConservationSociety appeared to show the bloodied remains of three minkewhales on board the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru as itsailed in the Southern Ocean. The group said it had informationthat a fourth whale had also been killed.

The images have raised pressure on Environment Minister GregHunt, who has backed away from a promise made during Australia'selection campaign last year to send a ship to monitor Japanesewhaling in the area.

His plan to instead send an aircraft staffed by customsofficials to randomly swoop over the area has been dismissed byactivists as ineffectual.

Bob Brown, a former lawmaker with the Greens party and chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia, called on the conservativeLiberal Party-led government to honour its pledge to step upmonitoring of the Japanese fleet.

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