Wednesday, 5 October 2011

NZ Minister condemns Japan's whaling plans

Mark Willacy, agencies

New Zealand has condemned Japan's plans to resume whaling in Antarctica, describing it as an "entirely disrespectful" move based on "dubious" science.

The Japanese Agriculture Minister, Michihiko Kano, has said the annual hunt will start around November.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully said this meant Tokyo was isolating itself from the international community.

"Japan's decision is increasingly out of step with international opinion," Mr McCully said. "It is also entirely disrespectful of the strong concerns expressed by Australian and New Zealand people for whom the Southern Ocean is our neighbourhood."

McCully also said he is concerned at Japan's plans to boost security for its whaling fleet, as well as comments from environmental activist group Sea Shepherd, suggesting its vessels could use life-threatening tactics to stop whalers.

"The New Zealand government has consistently urged all parties to act responsibly during the whaling season, and to avoid actions that may put their lives, or the lives of others, at risk."

The anti-whaling group, Sea Shepherd, says it will do everything possible to intervene in Japan's upcoming whaling season.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson says Australia and New Zealand are offering only empty rhetoric against the Southern Ocean hunt.

He told Radio Australia his organisation will not buckle to Japan's increasingly aggressive tactics.

"We're not going to hurt anybody, but we're certainly going to take the risks that are necessary to block them," he said. "That's the key to the whole thing. Blocking their operations. And if they can't load whales, they can't kill them".

He said Japan is spending $US40 million to send their whaling fleet, and another $US20 million on security.
Legal move
The Australian Opposition is urging the Government to seek an injunction at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against Japanese whaling.

The Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has condemned Japan's decision to continue its annual whale hunt in the southern ocean this summer.

Last year, Australia launched legal action against Japan in the International Court of Justice.

But the Oppostion's environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, says the ICJ will take too long to make a decision.

"We expect that on behalf of the Australian people who don't want to see whaling in Australian waters in Australian territory for whales that are travelling in the southern ocean, this is the moment to begin an injunctive action," he said.

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