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Japanese Whaler Ran The Red Light

Thursday 18 November 2010

"It Was The Japanese Whaler Who Ran The Red Light", Says Skipper Pete Bethune, Reacting To Maritime New Zealand Final Report On Whaling Ship Collission With Ady Gil

Ten months after the collision between the anti-whaling vessel, 'Ady Gil', and the Japanese whaling ship, 'Shonan Maru #2' in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Maritime NZ has issued the final report on their investigation (see www.maritimenz.govt.nz/adygil).

Skipper Pete Bethune, who was imprisoned in Japan for four months after he boarding the Japanese whaler to demand recompense for the crash, is happy with most of the findings.

He said, "Maritime NZ have confirmed what I have always believed. The Shonan Maru #2 was the overtaking vessel and we had right of way. It's the equivalent of two cars approaching traffic lights and it was the Japanese who ran the red light."

The report certainly places the bulk of the blame on the Shonan Maru #2, whilst also saying that the Ady Gil could have avoided the collision by taking alternative action. However, Bethune added, "When you're doing three knots, and an 800 tonne boat is passing you doing 15 knots, you don't expect them to try and run you over."

"The report backs up my recollections that the Shonan Maru #2 deliberately turned to starboard, towards us, in the last few seconds, putting us within range of their water cannon whilst at the same time, directing the LRAD towards us.

"I acknowledge the finding that we could have kept a more effective look out, but being sprayed by high powered water jets and deafened by the LRAD, made that very hard to do at the time."

Whilst the Japanese did eventually supply their tracking data to the investigating team from Maritime NZ, the captain of the Shonan Maru #2 has never come forward for interview or supplied answers to any questions.

Bethune also finds it a strange coincidence that it took just over six months for the Japanese tracking data to be made available to Maritime NZ, and that there is a time limit of six months after which no prosecution can take place.

He said, "The captain has never explained why he turned to starboard, directly towards us - in fact, he's never answered any questions at all. As the six month time limit has now passed, we have no hope of prosecuting through the maritime legal system, and it would be prohibitively expensive to take out a private prosecution in Japan. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, the episode is now behind me - it's time to move on.

"The Ady Gil was an incredible boat that, as 'Earthrace', had already made history before we travelled to the Antarctic. I'm proud that it played such a significant part in the fight against whaling, which I remain strongly opposed to. I am committed to doing anything I can within the law to stop this brutal and unnecessary practice, whether carried out by the Japanese whaling fleet or any of the other groups world-wide who continue the slaughter."


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