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NZ likely to send Navy to watch over anti-whaling protestors

By Lucy Brake - 18 Nov 2010 19:26:0 GMT
NZ likely to send Navy to watch over anti-whaling protestors

The whaling season begins shortly and the collision between the Ady Gil and the Japanese whaling vessel last season has lead the NZ Prime Minister to raise concerns that people could lose their lives.

"The trouble is that if you get an incident... in such a hostile environment that we don't have a lot of time to come and rescue someone," he says. So the NZ Government are now planning on sending one of their naval ships into the Southern Ocean to help out by watching over the whalers and the anti-whaling protesters.

The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in Japan says that this year's whale catch may well include around 500 finn whales and 850 minke whales. This news is likely to lead to an increasingly tense situation in the Southern Ocean, as a number of anti-whaling vessels plan to head to the Antarctic to fight to hinder the whalers' efforts.

This move by the NZ Government has been prompted by a Maritime NZ investigation into the collision that occurred between the anti-whaling vessel run by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Ady Gil, and a Japanese whaling boat. The report, just released, put the blame at the feet of both captains but concluded that neither was acting with deliberate intent.

However, Maritime NZ did say that both vessels put lives at risk by not responding appropriately which led to the colliding of the two boats. The President of the Sea Shepherd Paul Watson says because the captain of the Japanese vessel refused to be interviewed by Maritime NZ, the report is not conclusive. However, the ICR in Japan says the investigation exonerates their vessels from the actions that were taken against a “terrorist group on the high seas”.

The collision investigation report said that the earlier events between the Japanese whaling boat and the Ady Gil had resulted in "a tense operating environment and probable uncertainty over each other's intentions".  It is this situation that the NZ Government is keen to avoid this whaling season and they are throwing the weight of the NZ Navy behind it.

Image copyright Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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Topics: Whales