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Thursday, May 27

NZ citizen on trial in Japan for doing what the Govt wouldn’t

The Key Government’s lethargic reaction to whaling in the Southern Ocean is epitomised by its lack of concern for Pete Bethune whose trial begins tomorrow, the Green Party said today.

“The Maritime New Zealand investigation into the alleged ramming of the Ady Gil is critical to Pete’s defence, and yet it remains incomplete and secret after all these months,” Green Party Oceans Spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“Instead of asserting New Zealand jurisdiction in this case, John Key has left the investigation floundering, and left Pete to the mercy of the Japanese legal system which has a 99 percent conviction rate,” Mr Hughes said.

“The Key Government gives its tacit support of the Japanese whaling programme when it not only refuses to uphold the law protecting whales, but also refuses to support New Zealand citizens who do so in their place. Were it not for the actions of Pete Bethune and his Sea Shepherd crew, many more whales could have been illegally slaughtered in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this year.”

The International Whaling Commission has created international law that takes steps to protect whales. A moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986 and a Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was established in 1994.

“Japan flouts both these laws and continues to hunt endangered fin whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” Mr Hughes said.

“If New Zealand stood by its traditional anti-whaling allies and took a case to the International Court of Justice for an immediate injunction on whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, we could have a result as early as next year. With no whaling in the sanctuary, there will be no whale wars with activists. This would be a calmer situation for negotiation than what we have starting in Agadir next week.  

“For as long as the Government allows whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, there will be activists saving the whales. Key must step up and offer Bethune support,” Mr Hughes said.