Sea Shepherd: Japanese Whaling Fleet Oil Tanker Spill Confirmed

• Click here to listen to audio of radio transmission between Captain and Bosun of the Sun Laurel:


Feb. 18, 2013 – MELBOURNE, Australia — In the early hours of the 17th of February, while the SSS Sam Simon was tailing the South Korean owned Sun Laurel, fuel bunker ship to the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sam Simon crew noticed the smell of diesel fumes coming from the wake of the Sun Laurel, over one mile ahead.

Sun Laurel - Panamanian-registered, South Korean-owned refuelling vessel for the Japanese whaling fleet

Sun Laurel – Panamanian-registered, South Korean-owned refuelling vessel for the Japanese whaling fleet
photo credit: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd

Captain Luis Pinho radioed the Sun Laurel at 3:00 am AEDT, approximately 15 minutes after the Sun Laurel entered Australian Antarctic Territory, informing them that they smelled diesel fumes, could see fuel slicks in the wake of the Sun Laurel, had collected water samples, and would be reporting the Sun Laurel to the authorities.

Current locations of all vessels

Current locations of all vessels:
Group A – Sun Laurel, Yushin Maru, Shonan Maru No. 2, SSS Sam Simon
Group B – Nishin Maru, Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 3, SSS Steve Irwin & SSS Bob Barker

On the 17th of February at approximately 4:00 pm AEDT the Sam Simon recorded an audio transmission between the Captain and Bosun of the Sun Laurel – the Japanese whaling fleet’s refuelling vessel. In this recording, the Captain of the Sun Laurel refers to the oil spill that the Sam Simon had documented and collected samples of hours earlier. The Sun Laurel Captain informed his Bosun to take care covering refuelling hoses, and that if oil dropped into the water there would be a “big problem”, as the Sam Simon had caught the Sun Laurel leaking fuel into the wake behind them earlier that morning.

Sea Shepherd Australia believes this transmission is further proof of an oil spill by the Sun Laurel in Antarctica’s pristine waters, and has reported the incident to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

The Sun Laurel is in direct violation of international law. Marpol Regulation 15 Subpart B, Discharge in Special Areas Point 4 states: “In respect of the Antarctic area, any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures from any ship shall be prohibited.” In addition, The Sun Laurel has failed to issue a statement on their spill to AMSA, which puts them in breach of MARPOL’S Pollution Incident Reporting Regulations. Marpol 73/78 is the International Maritime Organisation’s Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, to which all sea-going vessels are bound.




About Sea Shepherd Australia

Sea Shepherd Australia is a non-profit conservation organisation whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd Australia uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd Australia works to ensure their survival for future generations. Visit for more information.

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