Whale defenders send message to Tokyo

By Andrew Koubaridis

Sea Shepherd supporters protest outside the Japanese Consulate in central Auckland yesterday. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Sea Shepherd supporters protest outside the Japanese Consulate in central Auckland yesterday. Photo / Steven McNicholl

The Sea Shepherd conservation group will not be changing tactics when it comes to its clashes with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, a group leader said at an Auckland protest yesterday.

National co-ordinator Bill Watson said no new new guidelines had been issued for when the group harass whalers, despite the bow of their protest trimaran Ady Gil being sheared off when it and a larger Japanese ship collided last week.

"It will be business as usual," Mr Watson said as he joined about 40 protesters outside the Japanese Consulate in the central city.

The group held placards and signs calling on the Japanese Government to stop slaughtering whales in the name of research.

Mr Watson said it was that message and not the Ady Gil incident that the group was concerned about yesterday.

Guards asked the protesters to move off the steps of the ASB Centre and Mr Watson was refused entry when he tried to deliver a petition carrying "a couple of hundred" signatures.

The petition was later delivered by security guards.

Mr Watson accused Foreign Minister Murray McCully of having Japanese interests more at heart than New Zealand's after his comments to a radio station.

Mr McCully outraged Sea Shepherd when he said: "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."

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

He thought Mr McCully's comments made New Zealand look "foolish" overseas.

Mr Watson said the protest was useful because it was important to show the New Zealand Government there was opposition to the killing of whales.

Japan's claim that the whales were used for scientific purposes was "bogus" and just a cover for a commercial meat operation, he said, but Sea Shepherd would concentrate on saving whales "one at a time".

A spokesman for Mr McCully said the Government opposed whaling but it was equally opposed to people putting lives at risk with their actions.

The minister was "unrepentant" about making it clear that both sides needed to improve their conduct, the spokesman said.

- NZ Herald

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