Whalers in NZ waters `disrespectful’

A Japanese whaling vessel entering New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was “deeply disrespectful”, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says.


ON Friday, the Shonan Maru 2 followed the Steve Irwin, a vessel of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, into the EEZ.

Mr McCully said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called in the most senior representative at the Japanese Embassy in Wellington on Friday.

“The ministry conveyed the deep disappointment of the New Zealand government that Japanese whalers had been insensitive to the views of New Zealanders by entering New Zealand’s EEZ against our wishes.”

Mr McCully said he would take further steps this week to “ensure that the Japanese government understands how deeply the actions of Japanese whalers have caused offence”.

Japanese officials told the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo late on Thursday that the Shonan Maru 2 was pursuing the Steve Irwin and might enter the zone.

“On my instructions, the New Zealand Embassy made it very clear that we would not want members of the Japanese whaling fleet entering our EEZ,” Mr McCully said.

“While the Japanese whalers’ decision to ignore New Zealand’s strong wishes in this respect has no legal implications, clearly it was deeply disrespectful.”

The ship travelled in the EEZ for some distance but did not enter New Zealand’s territorial waters, he said.

The New Zealand government had some legal capacity to remove vessels from its territorial waters, but none for excluding vessels from the EEZ, Mr McCully said.

Green Party Oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said on Sunday Mr McCully needed to do more than express disappointment over the ship entering New Zealand’s EEZ.

“It is offensive that Japanese whalers are in New Zealand waters,” Mr Hughes said.

“The government should lodge a formal diplomatic protest through the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo.”

Sea Shepherd said the Japanese ship was “harassing” the Steve Irwin.

“This is New Zealand’s opportunity to act on their diplomatic promises and take a stand against the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet,” Captain Siddharth Chakravarty said.

Sea Shepherd said another whaling ship, the Yushin Maru 3, had entered an Australian whale sanctuary for about 30 minutes on Saturday before leaving again.