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Feb 9, 2010 10:10 AM by Associated Press

Anti-whalers, Japanese fleet fire water cannons

Activists are vowing to stop the killing of whales and are exchanging water-cannon fire with a Japanese whaling fleet they're tailing in the Antarctic Ocean.

The Sea Shepherd conservation group says its ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, took on a Japanese factory ship early yesterday.

On Saturday, the Bob Barker and a Japanese harpoon boat collided, causing minor damage to both vessels. A Japanese whaler struck Sea Shepherd's high-tech speed boat Ady Gil and sheared off its nose on Jan. 6. The crew was rescued but the Ady Gil sank.

An official with the Japanese Fisheries Agency is condemning the use of water cannons, calling it "totally unforgivable."

A foreign ministry official says Japan has lodged a protest with the Netherlands and Togo -- the countries where the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker are registered.

Sea Shepherd, a U.S.-based activist group, sends vessels to confront the Japanese fleet each year.

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