Japan's whaling could put lives at risk, New Zealand says
Anti-whaling activists approach a Japanese whaling vessel in January in a photo from Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research.
October 5th, 2011
10:12 AM ET

Japan's whaling could put lives at risk, New Zealand says

New Zealand joined Australia on Wednesday in criticizing Japan's decision to resume whaling in Antarctic waters later this year and Tokyo's announcement that it will increase security for its whaling fleet.

"The Japanese government (is) making noises that have an ominous feel about them," New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said.

Michihiko Kano, Japan's fisheries minister, said at a news conference Tuesday that a patrol boat from the Fisheries Agency would accompany the Japanese whaling fleet when it heads for the Southern Ocean in December to "strengthen the protection given to the research whaling ships."

The addition of the patrol boat to the whaling fleet comes after last season's whale hunt in the Southern Ocean was cut short when anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society blocked strikes on the animals. Sea Shepherd said its actions saved 800 whales, and it promised last week to be back in force this season.

“They will have to kill us to prevent us from intervening once again," Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson said on the organization's website. "We will undertake whatever risks to our lives will be required to stop this invasion."

Sea Shepherd is calling this season's anti-whaling campaign Operation Divine Wind, the same name Japan gave to kamikaze attacks on U.S. ships in World War II. Sea Shepherd says it will have more than 100 volunteers in Antarctic waters to take action against Japanese whalers.

McCully on Wednesday urged restraint from both sides and said they should tone down the rhetoric.

"That's got a very bad feel about it, and we want both parties to take stock before they embark on anything that they will both regret later on," he said.

Besides the patrol boat, McCully said Japan was planning other security measures that he did not specify.

"You can only conclude that lives will be put at risk on that pathway," he said.

Australia on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to any whale hunt and criticized Japan's assertions that it takes whales for research purposes.

"There is no justification for continued whaling," Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke said. "Australia unequivocally condemns commercial whaling. We don't accept this is scientific. It should not go ahead."

In 2010, Australia initiated proceedings in the International Court of Justice to stop Japanese whaling, but Burke on Wednesday urged Tokyo to call off its hunt now.

"You don’t need to wait for the legal action to run its course. They can stop this any day and they should," Burke said.

McCully said New Zealand was firmly supportive of Australia's legal action.

"This is a part of the world that is close to us. It's our neighborhood. ... We do take exception to the Japanese whaling fleet that is coming down and embarking on these practices that we are opposed to," McCully said.

Japanese whalers killed 171 minke whales and two fin whales during last season's shortened Antarctic hunt, according to figures from the International Whaling Commission.

Japan's whale hunts are conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research, a nonprofit research organization overseen by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The Japanese whale hunts take place in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an area around Antarctica where the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1994. Japan says its hunts are needed to determine if whale populations are sufficient to sustain commercial hunting. Kano said Tuesday the resumption of commercial whaling is still Japan's intention.

Japan also hunts whales in the Northern Pacific, taking 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde's whales, 119 minke whales and three sperm whales last season, according to the whaling commission.

Iceland and Norway also conduct whale hunts. Aboriginal whale hunts - subsistence whaling by local tribes - are permitted in the Danish self-governing territory of Greenland, the United States, Russia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Filed under: Animals • Antarctica • Australia • Japan • New Zealand • Whales • World
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Tonelok

    Seems like just a desperate plug to amp up the danger before the next season of 'whale wars'...

    October 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |

      You really believe that, sad.

      October 5, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • hannah

      THat is a very jaded viewpoint. Sea SHepherd have been putting their lives on the line for over 30 years without any camera crew filming.

      October 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    @tonelok: I agree . but the only danger is from the Sea Shepards themselves . I watch just to see THEM.

    October 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miyo

      I KNOW right

      October 6, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    Raven, you are retarded. Get the hint Green Peace doesn't work. What contribution are you making in your life, moron.

    October 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      @Scott – what are you talking about, they don't work? Is there a book of tea bag bumper sticker criticisms? In what way do they not work?

      October 6, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. raven

    Did I say anything about Greenpeace ?? No, I didnt. But they did kick Paul Watson OUT of Greenpeace. If you had actually READ what I wrote youd see that I SUPPORT what they stand for just not their execution .Lastly, without going into a litany ,I bet Ive helped more animals and humans than YOU have. You sound like a real charmer .

    October 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    Gung Hoe!! Long time no talk . Thank you for having my back!! Scott just didnt read what I said, obviously . I hope youre well and thank you again!

    October 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The Mason

    This key, groundbreaking research will establish that whale ranching is the key to the new wave of sustainable, renewable energy.

    October 5, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. immobee

    "we need to kill whales to see if the whale population is large enough to kill whales.... if it isn't, I guess we'll resort to deer."

    October 6, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. azreal

    I disagree this is a fine example of Darwinism at work....... You have a bunch of idiots in a boat in the middle of one of the most remote oceans on the planet......... Trying to 'save whales" it's a perfect formula to thin out the gene pool a bit......

    October 6, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      And how many of them have died? More importantly what have you done with your life that has any purpose? How sad is the life you live?

      October 6, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • azreal

      a lot more meaning full then most of the fools that waste there life at this endeavour....... They're all a bunch of glorified pirates....... the lot of them........ they should all pay more attention to what is wrong with there own respective nations then messing in the affairs of another..........

      October 6, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • tffl

      The "internal affairs" of a nation that is sending a fleet more than 2000 miles from their territorial waters into a zone that is protected by international treaty against commercial whaling to conduct commercial whaling under the completely disingenuous claim of scientific research? Yes, _of course_ the Sea Shepherds are the pirates in this story...

      October 6, 2011 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Gr

    Let the whale wars begin... Sink the Sea Shepard...

    October 6, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. James

    I wonder why they don't go after Norway, or is it no fun when it's white on white?

    October 6, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Olav

      Maybe because Norway is not hunting wales in a protected area and that their catch is so small that it doesn't affect the nothern Minke population?

      October 6, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. BB

    The whole "research" whaling concept is pretty stupid, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do when the opposition will provide no compromise at all. I'd rather just see them drop the whole charade and just outright start whaling if they must.

    October 6, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jay Crandall

    As a Mariner, I'd really rather watch the Sea Shepherds arm their ships with 20mm or bigger cannons, and really get the ball rolling- or maybe buy a couple of North Korean torpedoes and use those- Hey it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt- then it's HILARIOUS... >_<

    October 6, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Iceman

    Studies have found that research is causing death to whales

    October 6, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. alex

    The only 'research' they are doing is into how many ways they can cook whale meat. I'm starting to wish the Tsunami had wiped out the whole freakin country.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. heitang

    I hope many sea shepherd lives are risked.

    October 7, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
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