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Antarctic situation demands end hands-off approach


Antarctic situation demands end to hands-off approach

The New Zealand Government should immediately send a frigate to the Southern Whale Sanctuary following the detainment of two anti-whaling activists on a Japanese whaling ship, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

Mrs Turei says the latest events in Antarctica are unprecedented and may well escalate to a situation where lives are put in direct danger.

"As I predicted last week, the situation in Antarctica has become highly volatile.

"The New Zealand Government has sat on their hands for too long and must now put the safety of both the activists and the whalers ahead of other concerns.

"A frigate is the only way of ensuring that neutral observers can provide evidence in any further court proceedings, and that cool heads are present now personal safety has become a very serious concern."

Mrs Turei says that the New Zealand Government should also investigate legal action against the whaling company similar to the successful court case in Australia, but she acknowledges that the legal situation in New Zealand is not the same as that which exists across the Tasman.

"New Zealand rightly upholds the Antarctic Treaty, which does not grant us sovereign claims within Antarctic waters. This would make court proceeding against the whalers difficult to win. Nonetheless, this is an avenue that should be thoroughly investigated.

"Australia's court ruling against the whalers sends a powerful signal to Japan and the international community, although it is difficult to tell what practical effect the ruling will have.

"The best action New Zealand could take right now is to send a frigate to demonstrate that we are similarly serious about the integrity of the Southern Whale Sanctuary and are willing to put our international responsibilities to human safety in step with our diplomatic rhetoric."


ends

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