At 0136 NZDT today, Saturday February 8, the Shonan Maru No. 2, the Japanese government security vessel responsible for sinking the New Zealand-registered trimaran Ady Gil in 2010, entered the 200 nautical mile limit of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone at 49°10’S, 172°35’E, tailing the Sea Shepherd ship, The Steve Irwin.
The vessel, which has Japanese Coast Guard personnel on board, shields Japan’s illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, of which New Zealand is a signatory nation.
New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, has said that the whaling operations are being carried out substantially for the purposes of pride, and that “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 upon Japan to end its whaling programme.”
Further, New Zealand has formally lodged an intervention before the International Court of Justice in the case brought by Australia against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. The case is still before the court.
On January 5, the Sea Shepherd fleet found the Japanese whaling fleet in the Ross Dependency with three dead protected Minke Whales and the remains of a fourth butchered whale on their blood-stained decks, poached from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. At the time, Minister McCully claimed that the waters were not within New Zealand’s maritime jurisdiction.
Sea Shepherd is requesting Minister McCully’s assistance to ensure that the Shonan Maru No. 2 is forcibly removed from New Zealand waters.
The United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), delegates nations the right to regulate fisheries within the waters of their Exclusive Economic Zone. Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, says, “In the past the New Zealand government has taken a strong stance against poachers in their EEZ. We’re asking that they now apply the same rules to the Japanese whaling fleet as they have to other poachers, and eject the Shonan Maru No. 2 from New Zealand waters immediately.”
UNCLOS also states that ships that enter a nation’s territorial sea “enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.” Captain Siddarth Chakravarty says, “The Shonan Maru No. 2 is currently harassing The Steve Irwin. Our conservation ship is upholding international law and the firm, anti-whaling stance taken by the New Zealand government. This is New Zealand’s opportunity to act on their diplomatic promises and take a stand against the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.”
The Japanese whaling fleet is operating in the Southern Ocean violation of the 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling, and in contravention of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established in 1994.