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NZ Not Sending Frigate To Watch Whaling Stoush

NZ Government Has No Plans To Send A Frigate To Watch Whaling Stoush

By Alastair Thompson

IMAGE: An ANZAC Class Frigate – New Zealand has two

A spokesman for the NZ Minister of Defence said today that the Government is not considering sending a Royal New Zealand Navy frigate south despite increasing tension between activists and whalers in the southern whale sanctuary.

In the past the New Zealand government has sent frigates south to monitor illegal fishing activities, and in 1973 sent a frigate to Mururoa to protest against nuclear testing.

A spokesman for the Minister told Scoop that while a special group of cabinet ministers could be convened to make a decision on whether to send a frigate south, there was no plan to do so at this stage.

Cabinet will meet for its first formal meeting next week. It is not known whether the whaling conflict will be on the agenda at this stage.

Tensions have been steadily rising in the southern ocean in recent days leading to calls from the Green Party today for intervention by the New Zealand Navy.

"New Zealand has taken a strong position against the resumption of commercial whaling, but now it is time to put our money where our mouth is and stand up and be counted the way we did when we sent the frigate to Mururoa Atoll in 1973. New Zealand had the courage to take action then and it should do the same now," said Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today.

The frigate would be in a position to keep an eye on what is going on down there for the safety of our citizens on the protest ships, she said.

IMAGE: Damage to the bow of the Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise

Yesterday morning the Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise collided with Japanese whaling fleet factory ship Nisshin Maru leading to an exchange of accusations as to who was responsible.

This was followed today by a report out of Tokyo that the Japanese Govt. might be asked to send maritime police aircraft south to investigate if tensions escalate further.

Meanwhile Australian Greens have called for the NZ and Australian Governments to not allow the use of ports or airports by whalers or their support facilities.

Today the conflict intensified still further when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Farley Mowat deliberately collided with Japanese whaling supply ship Oriental Bluebird which is en-route to join the Japanese whaling fleet.

The Oriental Bluebird had previously been tagged by Greenpeace Activists with the words "Whale Meat" painted in white across its stern.

Captain Paul Watson of the Farley Mowat issued a statement today about the incident.

"I informed the Oriental Bluebird that I was acting under the authority of the United Nations World Charter for Nature to uphold international conservation regulations prohibiting the slaughter of whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. When they refused, we backed up the message by slamming our starboard hull against their starboard hull," he said.


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