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Whalers on shaky ground, need help in hostage hand

17th January 2008

Whalers on shaky ground, need help in hostage handover

Japanese whalers who have abducted two protesters are on very shaky legal ground and are in no position to make demands from the crew of the Steve Irwin, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"While the Sea Shepherd activists, in boarding the Japanese ship, were very probably not acting within maritime law themselves, the whalers are certainly getting into deep waters if they think that abducting the activists and then making demands of the Sea Shepherd are wise actions," Mrs Turei says.

"The Green Party does not support any violent actions, but neither do I believe that the whalers have any moral right to hold the activists against their will.

"Paul Watson, the captain of Sea Shepherd's boat, has asked for assistance from the Australian Navy to recover his crew members and to help keep the peace in the Antarctic waters.

"I would certainly encourage the Australian navy to act immediately on this request. However, if our own Government had used some foresight and sent a frigate or multi-role vessel in the first instance, it is unlikely that events would have reached this crisis point," Mrs Turei says.

"I strongly doubt that Sea Shepherd will allow themselves to be held to ransom according to the conditions demanded by the whalers. This leaves a stand-off situation in which tensions can only increase as frustrations on either side grows.

"The Australian and New Zealand Government's are deluding themselves if they believe this situation will resolve itself peacefully without incident, without their presence.

"The only way this can be achieved is by having at least one navy vessel on hand to facilitate or monitor a hand over of the two crew members. Pending a request for assistance from the Australian navy, our own needs to put on standby."


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