Radio NZ. 2 January 2011.
Anti-whaling activists accused of dangerous
The organisation in charge of Japan's scientific whaling
programme has accused the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of endangering
its crews in the Southern Ocean. The two sides have clashed for the first
time during this season's Antarctic hunt. Sea Shepherd says it is determined
to pursue the Japanese whaling fleet through the icy waters of the
It says the whaling ships used water cannons on their
inflatable boats during high-speed chases. But the Institute of Cetacean
Research has accused the Sea Shepherd activists of throwing glass bottle
projectiles and deploying ropes to try and foul the propeller and rudder of
one of its ships. It has accused the group of dangerous and violent tactics,
and is calling on Australia to take criminal action against the activists
reports the ABC.
Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson says his three-strong
fleet located the whalers in the Southern Ocean on Friday before they
could start hunting. Protest boat the Steve Irwin in pursuit of the Japanese
On Saturday, inflatables launched by the protest fleet got
between three Japanese harpoon vessels and the factory ship Nisshin Maru amid
ice floes 3000km south-east of New Zealand. Mr Watson says the Japanese fired
a water cannon and stink bombs were thrown onto the decks of the whaling
ships. The protest fleet resumed its pursuit of the Nisshin Maru, with the
Japanese harpooners pursuing the protesters in turn, he says. "Once we are on
the Nisshin Maru we're just going to block it to prevent their whaling
operations. We do know they are not whaling because all three harpoon vessels
are chasing after us instead of chasing whales. We're trying to get a zero
quota here and make sure they don't kill any whales."
The Japanese fleet
left for the Southern Ocean at the start of December. The governments of New
Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States in December jointly
condemned in advance any confrontations that could threaten human life, and
called on both sides to act responsibly.
The governments say they are
disappointed that the Japanese fleet intends to hunt whales again.
Commercial whaling has been banned worldwide since 1986 but Japan justifies
its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean as lethal scientific research.