Whaler in Aust waters stand-off

This report is from a couple of days ago but it shows the weak position of the Gillard government. If Gillard expects respect from Japan while she gives safe harbour to ships that attack the Japanese fleet, she is very optimistic indeed. There's probably an international convention against protecting piracy too, which Japan could accuse Australia of breaching.

It would be a great loss of face for Japan to surrender in the face of Greenie attacks so the Greenies by their actions ensure that Japan will continue whaling.

Whale meat is not popular in Japan and the trade would die out of its own accord without Greenie meddling. As it is, Japan has resorted to handing out free whale meat in schools in order to reduce their unused stocks of it

A Japanese whaling ship has defied high level Australian complaints and has stayed in the waters of World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island. The harpoon-equipped whale hunter, Yushin Maru No3, was still there late yesterday, hours after Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the ship was leaving.

"I'm aware that there has been one vessel which I'm advised has been in Australian territorial waters and I'll advise that it will leave Australian territorial waters," Ms Gillard said.

The Australian embassy told the Japanese Government on Tuesday that whaling vessels were not welcome in the country's waters, repeating earlier complaints. But the Japanese ship was photographed yesterday within a few miles of the coast of Macquarie, which is part of the state of Tasmania.

The Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group said the harpoon ship continued trailing the vessel Bob Barker inside the 12 nautical mile territorial limit all day. The Bob Barker's first mate, Peter Hammarstedt, said, "Things seem to be reaching a boiling point here. "It has followed us on circuits of the island, keeping right inside the 12-mile zone."

The Bob Barker sought refuge at Macquarie in an attempt to shake the harpoon ship off its stern. As long as some vessels of the Japanese fleet are able to keep tabs on Sea Shepherd activists, the others can keep clear and continue whaling.

Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson said from far south of Western Australia last night that the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No2 had left the tail of his vessel, Steve Irwin, to be replaced by the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No2.


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