Australian Federal Police officers have boarded the anti-whaling ship the Steve Irwin in Hobart, after an official request for a search warrant from Japanese authorities.
The Sea Shepherd boat has just docked at the Princes Wharf, marking the end of its summer clashes with the Japanese whaling fleet.
Greens Senator Bob Brown says the Japanese authorities are using the AFP for political purposes.
"It's just totally outrageous that Tokyo, using Australian police personnel has raided the ship carrying these anti-whaling heroes back into port in Hobart," he said.
The AFP also boarded the Steve Irwin at the end of last year's whaling season.
The past few months have seen numerous clashes in the Southern Ocean, including a major collision between the activist boat Ady Gil and a Japanese whaling ship.
Ady Gil captain Peter Bethune, who was detained by the Japanese for boarding one of their ships, is still aboard the Japanese ship Shonan Maru 2, which is on its way to Tokyo.
Supporters have organised a flotilla to accompany the ships and a welcoming party for their crew.
The captain of the Steve Irwin, Paul Watson, says it is a great occassion to have the two ships docking at the same time.
"This is the first time that the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker have docked together," he said.
"We purchased the ship very covertly in Africa and we took the Japanese by suprise this year with the Bob Barker."
Australia and NZ clash on whaling
New Zealand is on a collision course with Australia over its change in position on whaling.
Both countries have attended an informal meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Florida, which aimed to set out an international deal on whaling.
New Zealand has said Australia will have to strike a compromise and abandon its push for a total ban on whaling.
Under an alternative deal, Japan, Norway and Iceland would be able to openly hunt whales, but there would be a reduction in the total catch over the next 10 years.
Paul Watson from the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says the New Zealand government has given in to extreme pressure from Japan.
But the New Zealand government says it is still pushing for a ban on whaling in the Southern Ocean.
New Zealand's representative to the International Whaling Commission, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, says the focus is on reaching a diplomatic agreement.
Australia opposes the plan and its stance forced a stalemate at the commission's weekend meeting.
AFP search second Sea Shepherd boat
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are searching a second anti-whaling ship today in Hobart.
Police boarded the Sea Shepherd boat Bob Barker when it docked in Hobart shortly before 2:30pm (AEDT) today.
Earlier today, the AFP searched the Steve Irwin when it docked in Hobart.
The Sea Shepherd group says police are investigating about 100 complaints made by Japanese authorities about protesters' behaviour in the Southern Ocean.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the Federal Government will not interfere with AFP investigation.
Mr Rudd says the Government has made its stance clear that if Japanese whaling does not stop, it will take the matter to the international court of justice.
But he says the Government will not get involved in the AFP's investigation.
"In terms of whether or not the Sea Shepherd has in any way violated any relevant law where Australian authorities are involved, that properly lies within the independent decision making processes of the Australian Federal Police," he said.
But Greens Senator Bob Brown has condemned the use of AFP officers to carry out the requests of the Japanese authorities.
"This is a political issue and the Japanese government is using the policing services for a political purpose while the Australian Government seems to be totally asleep," he said.
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