Captain Siddarth Chakravarty, on a Dunedin wharf, talks
about the adventures of Steve Irwin in the Southern Ocean.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A Japanese whaling vessel that reportedly tailed an
anti-whaling ship close to Otago's coastline - inside New
Zealand's exclusive economic zone- did so against the ''strong
wishes'' of the New Zealand Government.
The crew of the Sea Shepherd conservation ship Steve
Irwin yesterday said Shonan Maru No. 2 followed
them from the Southern Ocean to within 12 nautical miles of
the coast off Dunedin.
They called for the New Zealand Government to back its own
request for the vessel to stay out of New Zealand's EEZ.
''We urge [Foreign Affairs] Minister [Murray] McCully to
uphold New Zealand's strong stance against the Japanese
whaling fleet's operations and demand that the whaling
security vessel leaves New Zealand waters immediately,''
Captain Siddarth Chakravarty said after Steve Irwin
docked at Dunedin's X/Y shed wharf.
Mr McCully yesterday said the New Zealand embassy in Tokyo
had been advised by Japanese officials late on Thursday
Shonan Maru No. 2 was pursuing the Steve Irwin and
might enter the New Zealand EEZ.
The New Zealand embassy made it very clear New Zealand did
not want members of the Japanese whaling fleet entering its
EEZ, Mr McCully said.
The ship reportedly entered the EEZ but did not enter New
Zealand's territorial waters.
''While the Japanese whalers' decision to ignore New
Zealand's strong wishes in this respect has no legal
implications, clearly it was deeply disrespectful.''
The Foreign Ministry had conveyed to the Japanese Embassy in
Wellington the deep disappointment of the New Zealand
Government that Japanese whalers had been insensitive to the
views of New Zealanders by entering the EEZ against New
''This week, I shall take further steps to ensure that the
Japanese Government understands how deeply the actions of
Japanese whalers' have caused offence,'' Mr McCully said.
Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said the
Government should lodge a formal diplomatic protest.
''It is offensive that Japanese whalers are in New Zealand
Capt Chakravarty, who is on his fifth campaign for Sea
Shepherd and his third Antarctic campaign, said from
Dunedin's X/Y shed wharf - where Steve Irwin was
berthed from early yesterday until about 4pm - there had been
a ''big step up in aggression'' during the whaling season
The Sea Shepherd vessels had put the Japanese scientific
whaling expeditions under the spotlight, he said.
''They're [the Japanese vessels] getting frustrated and are
coming at us hard.''
That was leading to collisions and a recent nine-hour
campaign in which harpoon ships crossed the bows of two Sea
Shepherd vessels 86 times, towing a 300m-long steel cable, he
In Dunedin for less than 24 hours to refuel and restock food
supplies, Steve Irwin was to head back to the Ross Sea
to find the whaling fleet.
Capt Chakravarty believed Shonan Maru was ''acting as
a shield'' for the fleet and reporting to factory ships the
Sea Shepherd boat's position.
The New Zealand-based spokesman for Japan's Institute of
Cetacean Research, Glenn Inwood, said the Japanese did not
comment on where their boats were and, given the Sea
Shepherd's continuing violence on the high seas, including
''deliberate acts of ramming'', it was important the Japanese
monitored the group's vessels and their whereabouts.
Vessels had a right of passage and access into other
countries' exclusive economic zones and before the ''violent
harassment'' committed by the Sea Shepherd group, Japanese
vessels respected requests to remain outside the exclusive
economic zone, despite having a legal right to enter.
''The public need to understand that the Japanese must defend
themselves to ensure the safety of their crew and vessels,''
Mr Inwood said.
If Sea Shepherd ships, which sailed under a Dutch flag, were
refused entry to New Zealand and Australian ports, Japanese
vessels were unlikely to need to enter either country's
exclusive economic zone, he said.
Mr McCully said he had been advised Shonan Maru 2 had
travelled for some distance inside New Zealand's exclusive
economic zone, but stayed well clear of New Zealand
''The seas within the New Zealand EEZ, between 12 and 200
nautical miles, are not New Zealand territorial waters.
''The New Zealand Government has no legal means of excluding
any vessel from entering. By contrast we have some legal
capacity to exclude vessels from within our territorial
waters, 12 nautical miles from the coast.''