11 Dec 2010

Sea Shepherd vows to confront whalers again

9:31 pm on 11 December 2010

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has rejected a call from four governments, including New Zealand's, urging it not to directly confront the Japanese whaling fleet this summer.

The fleet left for its annual hunt in the Southern Ocean a week ago, and the main Sea Shepherd boat is visiting Wellington as it prepares to go south.

The governments of New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and the United States have jointly condemned in advance any confrontations that could threaten human life, and called on both sides to act responsibly.

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson says his organisation will definitely be directly confronting the Japanese. He says he isn't going down to the Southern Ocean to hang banners and observe but to shut down a poaching operation.

He says no one has been injured in six years of anti-whaling operations.

The four governments say they are disappointed that the Japanese fleet intends to hunt whales again.

They say they respect the right of groups to protest peacefully on the high seas but there must not be a repeat of the collision on 6 January this year between a Sea Shepherd boat and a Japanese ship.

Naval ship unlikely to be there

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it's now not likely there will be a naval ship available during the whaling season.

He says the Government was considering sending one of the Navy's new patrol boats to the Southern Ocean but there have been electrical problems with HMNZS Otago.

Mr McCully says it was only good luck no one was injured last summer in whaling clashes and he's worried someone could die this year.