Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Sea Shepherd saves 750 whales

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin. Photo / File / Chris Ormond
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin. Photo / File / Chris Ormond

The anti-whaling ship Bob Barker has docked in Wellington harbour after what its captain says is its most successful mission ever in thwarting Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean.

The ship, which was part of the Sea Shepherd fleet, has completed 95 days in the area attempting to stop whalers from killing 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales and 50 endangered humpback whales.

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"They kill these whales within a designated whale sanctuary, they kill these whales despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling and they kill these whales within the bounds of the Antarctic treaty, the ship's captain Peter Hammarstedt said.

The Japanese whaling industry had not yet released the number of whales they had killed this year, but Mr Hammarstedt said he was confident the whaling fleet had not reached "even a quarter of their bogus self allocated quota''.

"We are confident that this campaign - one of the most successful campaigns we've had to date in the Southern Ocean has led to more than 750 whales saved.''

During the campaign, Mr Hammarstedt accused the whalers of attacking his ship on three occasions.

"My vessel still bears the scars on its hull from a collision with one of the Japanese harpoon ships.''

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He said 250m of steel cable were dragged across the bow 43 times - "during one of those passes the harpoon vessel collided with my ship, causing substantial damage to my starboard bow''.

Sea Shepherd New Zealand coordinator Michael Lawry said the Japanese had been "very, very aggressive during the whaling season''.

"They've also shown themselves to be very desperate and deeply offensive to the people of New Zealand by coming into our EEZ.''

Last month the Shonan Maru No. 2, which provides security for the Japanese whaling fleet, entered New Zealand's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The action prompted a rebuke from Foreign Minister Murray McCully, who said it we was "disappointing''.

Today, Mr Lawry called on the Government to step up and police Japanese illegal whaling practices.

The Bob Barker would be docked in Wellington for the next 10 days in which the ship would be open to the public for tours.

- APNZ

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