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Restraint required in Southern Ocean

Hon Murray McCully Foreign Affairs Minister


Hon Dr Wayne Mapp Defence Minister

30 November 2008

Restraint required in Southern Ocean, Ministers say

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Defence Minister Wayne Mapp are urging all parties to show restraint during whaling protests in the Antarctic this season.

Japan's whaling fleet is due to arrive in Antarctic waters soon to begin their controversial whaling programme. The Sea Shepherd has announced it is also sending its vessel the Steve Irwin to protest against the whaling activities.

Dr Mapp has confirmed that the New Zealand Defence Force does not have plans to station craft in the Ross Sea in order to monitor developments, but notes that the regular Orion surveillance flights will provide updates.

"New Zealand has responsibility to co-ordinate responses to maritime incidents in the Ross Sea area. However, the fastest response usually means calling on other vessels in the vicinity to help," says Mr McCully.

"We don't want the situation getting out of hand. Protesters and whalers alike need to appreciate that the Southern Ocean is a remote and inhospitable stretch of ocean. Both sides need to be fully aware of the dangers, and act responsibly," Mr McCully says.

Because of the isolation and the extreme conditions in the Southern Ocean, search and rescue capability in the area is very limited.

"We're urging all parties to refrain from any actions that may put their lives, or the lives of others at risk."

Mr McCully says New Zealand remains firmly opposed to the Japanese whaling programme and he made that "unambiguously clear" to Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone at the recent APEC summit in Peru.

"We are actively engaged in a diplomatic process including through the International Whaling Commission, to try to find a resolution to the problem," Mr McCully says.


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