By Tracy Brown
Offensive, deeply disrespectful, and insensitive are some of the responses from top level representatives of the New Zealand Government regarding the intrusion of the Japanese whaling fleet’s security vessel, the Shonan Maru #2 into New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since Friday February 7. The government has expressed disappointment that the diplomatic request and ensuing expectation for the Shonan Maru #2 to leave New Zealand waters was not adhered to. The New Zealand government does not want whalers or their security vessels in the EEZ, and the New Zealand public doesn’t want whalers or their supporters here either.
Wellington representative of the Institute of Cetacean Research, Glenn Inwood, claimed that entering the EEZ was an effort to protect the whalers by stalking the Steve Irwin and monitoring their movements as a response to alleged violent harassment of the whaling fleet. The simple irony of this statement is not lost on Sea Shepherd when on February 2, the Japanese whaling fleet maintained a sustained attack on Sea Shepherd vessels with the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #3 being filmed deliberately colliding with, and damaging the Bob Barker – an attack that lasted nine hours and with 86 incidents of aggression recorded. There is also a difference between the rope-based prop foulers that Sea Shepherd has used in the past and the steel cable used by the whalers during the February 2 attack when the damage by rope is merely a stalling tactic, and the steel cable could render a ship inactive with a shattered propeller.
New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully has been reported in television, print and radio media, criticising the Japanese diplomatic representatives for not adhering to requests for the Shonan Maru #2 to leave New Zealand’s EEZ. Coincidentally, the Yushin Maru #3 recently entered the Australian Whale Sanctuary and was subsequently asked to leave - the Yushin Maru #3 did as requested. The dilemma faced by the New Zealand government in the face of Japanese diplomatic disregard of New Zealand is that what action should now be taken to ensure Japanese diplomats can in future respect New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rightful request to exclude whaling operatives in our EEZ. The New Zealand government should at least now lodge a formal diplomatic protest against Japanese whaling vessels in our EEZ and to formally protest against whaling operations in the Southern Ocean. Japan needs to realise that whaling is archaic, barbaric, and an unsuitable endeavour in the modern world. We don’t want whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.