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Call for Responsible Behaviour in Southern Ocean

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon Stephen Smith

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Maxime Verhagen

New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Murray McCully

Media Release
7 December 2009

Governments of Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand Call for Responsible Behaviour in the Southern Ocean

The Governments of Australia, The Netherlands and New Zealand remain resolute in our opposition to so-called ‘scientific’ whaling. We are deeply disappointed at the recent departure of the Japanese whaling fleet for the Southern Ocean.

Over the past years we have strongly conveyed our opposition at ministerial as well as at the diplomatic level, in bilateral meetings and in multilateral fora such as the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

We are aware that the coming season’s anticipated Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean are once again likely to attract protest, including through the despatch of the Dutch-registered Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, the Steve Irwin, and the New Zealand-registered vessel, the Ady Gil.

Our governments respect the right of individuals and groups to protest peacefully, including on the high seas. At the same time, we do not condone - indeed we condemn - dangerous or violent activities, by any of the parties involved, be it demonstrators or whalers.

Our governments expect any unlawful activity to be dealt with in accordance with relevant international and domestic laws.

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The Southern Ocean is a remote and inhospitable region where the risk of adverse incidents is high and the capacity for rescue or assistance is low. Our Governments jointly call upon all parties to exercise restraint and to ensure that safety at sea is the highest priority.

This summer Australia, in cooperation with New Zealand, will be leading major whale research in Antarctica, which is designed to answer the most pressing research needs for whale conservation and which uses the most sophisticated non-lethal scientific techniques.

Australia, The Netherlands and New Zealand are participating in a diplomatic process on the future of the IWC and continue to believe that diplomacy offers the best prospects for advancing whale conservation.

ENDS

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