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The ship 'The Simpsons' bought: Anti-whaling activists add vessel to fleet

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, has built a fleet of four ships to rival Japan's whaling fleet. The latest addition was purchased from the Japanese government by the producer of 'The Simpsons' for $2 million.

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Belonging previously to the Japan Meteorological Agency's Maizuru observatory, the Sam Simon was re-registered in the tiny South Pacific country of Tuvalu and delivered to Sea Shepherd in Australia's Queenslandstate by a Japanese crew.

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McLean said it was then refitted and reflagged to Australia and named after the American television producer and animal welfare campaigner who provided the money for its purchase.

"We're confident we can seriously impact their whale quota. This year all four of their harpoon ships are going to be tied up by our four ships, and the goal is that no harpooning can be done," he said.

Over nine whaling seasons in the southern hemisphere summer, the group has clashed frequently with the Japanese fleet, sinking one of its own ships. The high speed trimaran Ady Gil sank after a collision with a whaler in January 2010.

Japan introduced scientific whaling to skirt a commercial whaling ban under a 1986 moratorium. It argues it has a right to monitor the whales' impact on its fishing industry.

Australia's government has filed a complaint against Japan at the world court in the Hague to stop Southern Ocean scientific whaling. A decision is expected in 2013 or later.

(Editing by Michael Perry)

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