Japan has appealed to the Netherlands to take action against the Dutch-registered ship Bob Barker, belonging to marine wildlife conservation group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, for allegedly colliding with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean.

Tokyo’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga condemned the group, blaming it responsible for the confrontation.

Japan maintains that Bob Barker came into contact with the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 3, trying to obstruct its operations.

The Japanese fleet, which comprised of research whaling vessels Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3, released a statement saying that the vessels were sabotaged by the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker.

Sea Shepherd stated that the whaling vessels had tried to damage its ships and drive the campaigners away from the factory ship.

No personal injuries were reported in association with the collision, but there were alleged damages to the Bob Barker’s bow and anchor and to the hull and railing of the Japanese vessel.

Australian environment minister Greg Hunt ordered an investigation into the accident, which occurred in the New Zealand waters.

An international law states that hunting whales is illegal, but Japan is able to catch the mammals under a scientific research clause.