Tuesday, March 04, 2008
The Federal Government has slammed anti-whaling terrorists who threw foul-smelling and slippery chemicals onto the deck of a whaling ship, sparking angry complaints from Japanese officials. Terrorists aboard the Steve Irwin pelted the deck of the Nisshin Maru whaling vessel with "rotten butter" butyric acid in refilled VB bottles and packets of methocel — a food additive that makes liquids more viscous and slippery — Sea Shepherd leader Captain Paul Watson said. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who has frequently called for restraint from both sides in the Southern Ocean clashes, condemned the protesters' actions. "I absolutely condemn actions by crew members of any vessel that cause injury, or have the potential to cause injury, to anyone on the high seas," Mr Smith said in a statement. The Japanese Government said up to four people on board Nisshin Maru had their eyes affected by the butyric acid and three had to see a doctor about their condition. "Fortunately, not so serious," said Hideki Moronuki, a deputy director at the Fisheries Agency of Japan. But the protesters denied anyone was hurt. Captain Watson said the organic, non-toxic compounds made the deck foul-smelling and slippery, but it was impossible for any of the whalers to have been injured by the missiles. He challenged them to produce any video evidence of injuries. Captain Watson also said Sea Shepherd was undeterred in its pursuit of the fleeing factory ship Nisshin Maru last night. "I think they are going to have a hard time killing any more whales this season," he said.
Anti-whaling terrorists throw chemicals at the Nisshin Maru.A senior vice minister for Foreign Affairs, Itsunori Onodera, said Japan planned to issue a formal protest to the Steve Irwin's country of registration, the Netherlands. Speaking at a meeting to lobby more small nations to join the International Whaling Commission, Mr Onodera said: "This kind of illegal act should not be tolerated." Four men wearing helmets and uniforms that identified them in English as Japan Coast Guard officers appeared for the first time on the decks of the Nisshin Maru. Captain Watson said they wore sidearms. Video released by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research shows one with a bulky holster. "As we drew alongside, one of them had one hand on his video, and the other on his holster, like it was Dodge City," Captain Watson said. "I don't think the Australian Government would approve of people bearing arms in a non-militarised place like the Antarctic." The Antarctic Treaty forbids the militarisation of the region, but University of Canterbury political analyst Alan Hemmings said the rule was unlikely to apply to law enforcement. "Clearly it would be an unhappy state of affairs to see the appearance of firearms, but then this whole thing is a very unhappy state of affairs, isn't it?" Dr Hemmings said. Mr Moronuki said he was not in a position to comment on whether anyone aboard Nisshin Maru carried firearms. A Japan Coast Guard spokesman confirmed that a detachment was aboard the factory ship, but declined to respond to any further questions. There are only a few weeks left in what has been a severely disrupted whaling season. The clash followed a chase off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Last night the Nisshin Maru was headed west, towards a storm that Captain Watson said it could use to shake off the Steve Irwin's pursuit. "The important thing is, they have been unable to whale for more than a week now."