Protest captain wants NZ police action

Adam Meyerson, captain of the Sea Shepherd  anti-whaling vessel  Sam Simon, waits as it refuelled...
Adam Meyerson, captain of the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel Sam Simon, waits as it refuelled in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
An anti-whaling ship captain has called for New Zealand naval vessels to police the escalating tension between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet.

The Sea Shepherd vessel Sam Simon arrived in Dunedin yesterday to refuel, as the whaling confrontation in the Antarctic heats up.

That included claims and counterclaims of sabotage as vessels from opposing sides clashed on Sunday.

Captain Adam Meyerson (50), of San Francisco, said it was frustrating to miss the action in the Ross Sea, where the 56m vessel and its crew plan to return this week.

He questioned why the offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago had been in the area ''making sure people don't take Patagonian toothfish out the water'', but ignoring the slaughter of whales.

''People don't come to New Zealand to watch Patagonian toothfish,'' he said.

''If there was someone watching what was going on, there would not be this whole 'he said', `she said'. I would absolutely welcome an impartial observation of us getting rammed.''

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully was travelling last night and was unavailable to comment on a possible role for the navy in the whaling wars.

In an earlier statement, he reiterated that ''the New Zealand Government strongly opposes Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean''.

''However, we also oppose any activities that put lives or vessels at risk.

''We are deeply concerned by reports of a collision between a protest vessel and a whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean.''

Both parties were asked to show restraint and respect for human life, he said.

Last year, Mr Meyerson was behind the wheel when Sam Simon was rammed by an oil tanker, and as a skipper he acknowledged the difficult line between protest and obeying maritime law.

''You have to stay within the rules. It is sort of like yacht racing. You use the rules to your advantage. [The Japanese whaling fleet] don't care about the rules and with good reason ... they never get in trouble.''

''We don't want to hurt anyone ... our mentality is one of non-violence.''

Mr Meyerson, who was on his second trip to the Antarctic, said it was his first visit to New Zealand and he had spotted sperm whales off the coast of Dunedin.

However, his visit was brief as the vessel was scheduled to depart at 7am.

Sam Simon, named after The Simpsons producer who donated an undisclosed sum to Sea Shepherd in 2012, was a former Japanese research ship used in the northern Pacific whaling fleet.

With a crew of 29, it was the smallest and slowest of the three Sea Shepherd vessels in the Antarctic.

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