WikiLeaks cable: Japanese whaling vessel collision with Sea Shepherd - NZ's perspective

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

January 7, 2010
Japanese Whaling Vessel Collision With Sea Sheperd Boat --
New Zealand's Perspective

date:2010-01-07T12:46:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:10WELLINGTON5
destination:VZCZCXRO2447 RR RUEHPT DE RUEHWL #0005 0071246 ZNY CCCCC
ZZH R 071246Z JAN 10 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
0293 INFO RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC RUCPDOC/DEPT
OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC RUEHBN/AMCONSUL MELBOURNE 0011
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0076 RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0039
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0008 RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0005
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON RULSJGA/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON
DC
classification:CONFIDENTIAL
reference:10CANBERRA14
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000005

SIPDIS

AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PASS TO AMCONSUL AUCKLAND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/08
TAGS: EFI...
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000005

SIPDIS

AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PASS TO AMCONSUL AUCKLAND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/08
TAGS: EFIS, SENV, EWWT, NZ, JA, AS
SUBJECT: Japanese Whaling Vessel Collision With Sea Sheperd Boat --
New Zealand's Perspective
REF: CANBERRA 000014

CLASSIFIED BY: Peter G. Tinsley, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission,
State, Political/Economic Affairs; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (SBU) On January 7, Econoff spoke with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) Environmental Division Deputy Director Carol Schwalger, who is the chief point of contact on the January 6 collision between a Japanese whaling vessel and the Ady Gil, a boat owned by the Sea Sheperd Conservation Society anti-whaling group. Schwalger said that the New Zealand Government (GNZ) is not making any judgment as to who was at fault for the collision, regardless of the public accusations and finger pointing in the press that both sides in the incident are currently engaged in. Since the Ady Gil is a New Zealand flagged vessel, the New Zealand Government has undertaken a preliminary assessment and investigation before deciding on next steps. Schwalger noted that MFAT has had an exchange with Japan regarding the matter, and Japan has promised to do a full investigation. According to MFAT's preliminary judgment, it is not clear which party is at fault. Schwalger added that the New Zealand Government is not under the same public pressure to respond as the Australian Government since the whaling issue is a "much hotter" issue there. She did note, however, that depending how the investigation goes, there could be "diplomatic
consequences."

2. (SBU) During a January 7 interview on Radio NZ - the national radio station - Foreign Minister Murray McCully reiterated New Zealand's opposition to Japanese whaling operations in Antarctic waters but called on all parties to "put a greater premium on life, in such a harsh environment." He added that Maritime New Zealand was conducting the preliminary assessment in close cooperation with Australian maritime authorities (Note: The collision took place in an area where Australia is responsible for maritime search and rescue operations. End Note). McCully said that the GNZ would decide on appropriate next steps following completion of the preliminary assessment. In the interim, McCully noted, he would be taking the matter up with the Japanese on January 7 and, "despite our strongly differing views on the whaling issue, that we do work constructively with the Japanese authorities, because we have issues of safety and welfare at stake, and I've found that the Japanese Government and New Zealand Government can work together, despite our differences over the whaling policy issue."

3. (C) Comment: The Government of New Zealand's measured response and unwillingness to rush to assign blame for the collision between a Japanese whaling vessel and the New Zealand-flagged Ady Gil are in vivid contrast to the more sensationalistic coverage of the incident in the New Zealand press. Both sides are using the press to take their case to the court of public opinion and assign blame for the incident to the other party. While the whaling issue may not resonate as strongly with Kiwis as it does with Australians, most Kiwis support their Government's strong opposition to Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters. Whether that will sway public opinion against the Japanese on this particular incident remains to be seen. In the mean time, the Japanese Government-backed Institute of Cetacean Research has made New Zealander Glenn Inwood its spokesman on this issue and he has been vigorously defending the actions of the Japanese vessel, the Shonan Maru 2, in the New Zealand print and broadcast media. End Comment.

CLARKE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 Dec 2014 04:01:22 Processing Time: 202ms