Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Governments unite to call on Japanese whalers and Sea Sheperd protesters to behaves themselves by Alison Rehn

Whaling: A protestor throws a bottle of rotten butter, at Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No 1 in the Antarctic Ocean in 2009. Picture: AP. Source: AP

In a joint statement, the governments of Australia and the three anti-whaling nations condemned any actions that risked lives in the Southern Ocean.

Japanese whalers and protesters from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have had several near misses on the high seas in years past.

"We are deeply concerned that confrontations in the Southern Ocean will eventually lead to injury or loss of life among protestors, many of whom may be nationals of our countries, and whaling crews," the joint government statement said.

"We call on the masters of all vessels involved in these actions in the Southern Ocean to take responsibility for ensuring that safety of human life at sea is their highest priority."

Australia, the US, New Zealand and the Netherlands said they remained "resolute" in their opposition to commercial whaling - including so-called "scientific" whaling - and that lethal techniques were not required in modern whale conservation and management.

They said they were "disappointed" at the recent departure of the Japanese whaling fleet for the Southern Ocean.

"Our governments respect the right of individuals and groups to protest peacefully, including on the high seas," the statement said.

"At the same time, we condemn dangerous or violent activities from all participants on either side.

"We are prepared to deal with any unlawful activity in accordance with relevant international and domestic laws."

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