7 Dec 2011

NZ holds off sending ship to monitor whaling

7:20 pm on 7 December 2011

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is so far ruling out sending a New Zealand vessel to the Southern Ocean to monitor Japanese whaling.

The Green Party wants the activity patrolled, following reports that a Japanese whaling fleet is headed to Antarctica for its annual hunt.


Three ships, led by the 720-tonne Yushin Maru, set sail from Shimonoseki in western Japan on Tuesday with the aim of catching about 900 minke and fin whales.

Japan cut short its hunt for the 2010-11 season in Feburary, blaming interference from American-based environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The Green Party says New Zealand should send a vessel to monitor the hunting and protest action as it has been escalating.

Environment spokesperson Gareth Hughes says the ship could be an independent observer and assist if problems arise.

Mr Hughes says the Government has been kow-towing to Japan and needs to send the message that New Zealanders find whaling unacceptable.

However, a spokesperson for Mr McCully says there are no current plans to send a vessel, but the situation will be kept under review.

It is expected the whaling fleet will operate in Australia's search and rescue area, but Australia has ruled out sending a vessel.

Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but since 1987 Japan has used a loophole to carry out "lethal research" on the mammals in the name of science.

Japan claims it is necessary to substantiate its view that there is a robust whale population in the world and makes no secret of the fact that whale meat from this research ends up on dinner tables and in restaurants.