Thursday, February 15, 2007
Japanese authorities have appealed for help from the Australian and New Zealand governments, as efforts continue to fight a fire on board the largest ship in its Antarctic whaling fleet. One person has been reported missing after the fire broke out below decks on the Nisshin Maru while it was in the Ross Sea. Most of the crew have been transferred to other Japanese whaling ships but some stayed on board to fight the fire. The deputy director of the Japanese Fishing Agency, Hideki Morinuki, says he has heard reports the fire is now under control but is waiting for further confirmation. "I cordially ask the Australian and New Zealand governments to extend kindness and cooperation to the vessel. I ask them to provide their best help to the vessel," he said. Meanwhile, two anti-whaling ships are steaming back to Melbourne from the area.
Nisshin MaruPaul Watson, the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship 'Robert Hunter', says it is unlikely the Japanese will continue to kill whales because the Nisshin Maru is the fleet's processing ship. It was expected to return to Japan in April after meeting its quota of 1,000 whales. Mr Watson says the Robert Hunter would have helped if asked to. "We would have if we were close but New Zealand Search and Rescue is only notifying vessels within 100 miles of their position to go help and we're much further away," he said. "Also, we're probably physically unable to do so because the Farley Mowat has enough fuel to get to Melbourne and the Robert Hunter doesn't have enough fuel to go back there and then make it back to Melbourne again so we're restricted there." Farley Mowat