Nov. 19, 2010 – NEW ZEALAND – Prime Minister John Key plans to send naval ships to whaling grounds to protect against incidents like the collision between the Ady Gil and Shonan Maru No. 2.
Is this good news or bad news? Will this protect the whalers from “unsafe” intervention tactics by anti-whaling groups, allowing the whalers to continue their killing without interference? Or could this be the first step the New Zealand government takes to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet and support the will of its citizens, who have little tolerance left for the annual slaughter in the Southern Sea?
Pete Bethune, New Zealand’s best-known anti-whaling activist, thinks it’s a good move. Via email Bethune said: “If the navy knows where the fleet is, word will work its way to SSCS (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) and it will have them film refuelling in Antarctica (illegal) and other things. It raises the stakes a bit.”
Good point, Pete! Let’s hope those sailors keep their eyes open for whalers. – Global Animal
The Government is considering sending a naval vessel to the Southern Ocean to watch over whalers and anti-whaling protesters.
Prime Minister John Key said he was concerned someone could lose their life in hard-to-reach Antarctic waters.
“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 said the Government was considering sending a naval vessel to accompany the ships during the whaling season, which begins this month.
Mr Key’s comments followed a report by Maritime New Zealand on the collision between protest boat Ady Gil and a Japanese whaler.
Both crews were at fault for the collision and put lives at risk, Maritime New Zealand said.
The results of its investigation, released yesterday, blamed both the Japanese ship Shonan Maru No 2 and the New Zealand-skippered protest boat for the collision in the Southern Ocean on January 6.
It concluded that neither the Japanese captain nor the Ady Gil’s captain, Pete Bethune, deliberately struck each other’s vessels.
However, the report said, both boats did not respond appropriately to the “close quarters” situation that led to the collision.
Mr Bethune said he would be more restrained when skippering a boat near whaling ships in future.
He said he was satisfied with the report, as it gave closure to the incident. While acknowledging his errors as captain, he felt the Japanese ship carried most of the blame for the collision: “If it was an insurance case the decision would definitely go against them.”
Mr Bethune added that captains were unlikely to change their behaviour in the heat of the whaling season.
The $1.5 million Ady Gil had its bow shorn off in the incident, and was later cast adrift.
Investigators found that the 70m Japanese ship failed to give way to the 23m Ady Gil while overtaking it.
They also found that Mr Bethune should have ordered his helmsman to give more sea room to avoid a collision.
Crewmen on the Japanese vessel were hosing the Ady Gil with water immediately before the collision.
The report said the Ady Gil should have maintained some speed and kept a better lookout as the ships neared.
The report noted that earlier events between whaling and protest vessels had contributed to “a tense operating environment and probable uncertainty over each other’s intentions”.
Maritime NZ also sought interviews with the captain and crew of the Shonan Maru No 2 as part of its investigation, but could not compel Japanese authorities to conduct these.
The report did not recommend legal action against the Ady Gil.
Maritime NZ also has no legal jurisdiction over foreign vessels in international waters.
For more information on the maritime report, read: Report Blames Both Whalers And Activists For Collision, Sidesteps Larger Issue
Read about the ongoing battle between Japan and New Zealand over Japanese whaling practices: Japan Losing Whaling War With New Zealand