Anti-whaling activist calls for McCully to resign portfolio

By Edward Gay

A small group of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers protested outside the Japanese Consulate in Auckland, calling for an end to whaling in Antarctic waters.

The group of protesters held placards and hand-painted signs and were moved from the steps of the ASB Centre by security guards.

Sea Shepherd national coordinator Bill Watson said he was pleased with the turnout of about 40 protesters.

He called on New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully to step down from his portfolio after Mr McCully said in a radio interview last week: "If people are determined to break the law and determined to kill other people on the high seas, then it is not the responsibility of the New Zealand Government or any other Government to send armed vessels down there or something of that sort to stop them."

"Do I think he's right in saying it? No. Do I think he should resign his portfolio? Yep," Mr Watson said.

"He [Mr McCully] has Japanese interests more at heart than our own."

Mr Watson said Mr McCully's comments had damaged New Zealand's international reputation.

"It makes us look foolish."

Mr McCully's office has been contacted for comment but has so far not returned phone calls.

Sea Shepherd volunteer Matt Pollard said "probably not very much" would come from the protest.

"It is still good to involve people and show New Zealanders are not gullible and know what's going on."

He said it was also important to show the New Zealand Government that there was opposition to the killing of whales by Japanese whaling fleets.

Mr Pollard, who was a crew member on the protest ship the Ady Gil when it sailed from Auckland to Hobart, said he was shocked to see the vessel going down after it collided with a Japanese whaling boat in Antarctic waters last week.

He said he was relieved the crew were all OK and that he counted them as personal friends.

Mr Watson said there had already been offers of money to build a second Ady Gil in time for the whaling season next year.

Earlier this afternoon, Mr Watson said he expected a "cool but cordial" response from the Japanese Consulate when he delivered a petition against whaling.

Mr Watson was contacted shortly after 2pm and said he was unable to take the petition up to the Consulate's office by security guards. He said the guards told him the petition would be delivered.

A spokeswoman from the Consulate's office confirmed that the petition has been received.

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