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 user 2008-01-17 at 11:26:00 am Views: 55
  • #18988

    Australia to act on whaling row
    has said it will send a ship to collect two activists from a Japanese
    whaling vessel, in a bid to end a two-day Antarctic stand-off.

    Minister Stephen Smith said a ship monitoring the whalers would
    retrieve the men as soon as possible.The protesters, from radical
    anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, boarded the Japanese ship on
    Tuesday.Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has urged restraint on all sides but
    said that he would like to see an end to whaling.The Japanese whalers
    said they want to return the activists to their ship, the Steve Irwin,
    but Sea Shepherd said conditions for the release are unacceptable.Mr
    Smith said that the patrol boat, the Oceanic Viking, would retrieve the
    men from the Yushin Maru 2 and transfer them to Sea Shepherd’s Steve
    Irwin vessel.

    Founded 1977 by Paul Watson, one of Greenpeace founders
    Self-proclaimed policing organisation aimed at protecting marine wildlife
    Committed to shutdown of all illegal whaling and sealing operations
    More confrontational than other environmental groups
    Has fleet of three ships plus several smaller boats
    Both the Japanese and Australian governments had agreed to the plan, he said.

    now need the full and complete co-operation of the two vessels, the two
    captains and the two men concerned.”The stand-off has ratcheted up
    tensions between Sea Shepherd and the whalers, who have clashed in the
    past.Australian Benjamin Potts and Briton Giles Lane boarded the whaler
    on Tuesday to deliver a protest.Sea Shepherd’s executive director, Kim
    McCoy, pointed out that the Japanese would not be whaling while the
    activists were on board.”But of course we are concerned for the safety
    of Giles and Pottsy, and we are definitely looking forward to a
    reunion,” she said.

    ‘Difficult operation’
    The whalers say the
    men tried to damage their propeller and threw acid before illegally
    boarding.They offered to return them if Sea Shepherd agreed not to
    confront the whaling vessel during the handover. Sea Shepherd said the
    men were roughed up when they boarded the vessel and ruled out any kind
    of conditional handover.As the deadlock continued, Sea Shepherd
    threatened a commando-style raid if the activists were not returned.A
    whaling official, meanwhile, said the activists could be taken to Japan
    if Sea Shepherd did not co-operate.

    Mr Smith gave no timescale for the manoeuvre.
    would like the transfer to be expedited as soon as possible but people
    should understand it is a difficult operation,” he said.The Oceanic
    Viking has been following the fleet to collect evidence for a possible
    legal challenge against the whalers in international courts.The fleet
    plans to kill about 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales by mid-April as
    part of what it describes as a scientific research programme.But other
    nations and environment groups say the research goals could be achieved
    using non-lethal methods and call the programme a front for commercial

    November 2007: Japanese fleet of six whaling ships sets sail
    December: MV Esperanza carrying Greenpeace campaigners enters Antarctic
    waters on trail of Japanese fleet. MV Steve Irwin carrying rival Sea
    Shepherd Conservation Group also heads towards whaling fleet
    9 January: Australian ship Oceanic Viking leaves Perth on whaling surveillance mission
    15 January: One Briton and one Australian held by Japanese after boarding Yushin Maru No 2 to deliver protest letter