The resumption of so-called "scientific'' whaling in the
Southern Ocean has been condemned by Foreign Affairs Minister
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd said it was pursuing the
Japanese fleet after finding all five of its vessels in the
Southern Ocean, along with evidence of whale kills.
The Sea Shepherd fleet, comprising the Steve Irwin, the Bob
Barker and the Sam Simon, was now trailing the Japanese ships
in a bid to disrupt or shut down their whale-killing
The Steve Irwin's helicopter first spotted the Japanese
vessel, Nisshin Maru, in what the organisation said was New
Zealand's sovereign waters in the Ross Dependency Antarctic
region and inside the internationally recognised Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The Sea Shepherd group said it had footage of three dead
protected minke whales on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, taken
when the factory ship was first found.
A fourth whale, also believed to be a minke, was being
butchered on the deck.
Mr McCully said reports by Sea Shepherd that whaling occurred
in New Zealand sovereign waters were factually wrong.
"New Zealand has responsibility for co-ordinating search and
rescue operations in a large area in the Southern Ocean,
however these are international waters and not within New
Zealand's maritime jurisdiction.''
However, today's information suggested the Japanese fleet had
commenced whaling for the season, he said.
"The practice of whaling in the oceans south of New Zealand
is pointless and offensive to a great many New Zealanders.
"The New Zealand Government has repeatedly called on Japan to
end its whaling programme. We reiterate this message today,''
Mr McCully said in a statement.
New Zealand formally lodged an intervention before the
International Court of Justice in the case brought by
Australia against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. A
judgment in the case is yet to be delivered.
The Sea Shepherd group said its fleet would do what it could
to ensure no more whales suffered at the hands of the
"Sea Shepherd will remain relentless in driving these fake,
desperate and subverting `scientists' back to Tokyo,'' the
Steve Irwin's captain, Sid Chakravarty, said.