WELLINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) — The New Zealand government said on Thursday that whalers and anti-whaling protesters must now put a greater premium on human life.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the clash must not be allowed to escalate.
“The New Zealand government is totally opposed to Japanese whaling taking place in the Southern (Pacific) Ocean, but we’re also opposed to killing human beings down there as well,” Radio New Zealand quoted McCully as saying.
“It’s quite clear that unless there is some restraint exercise, there is serious risk to human life in that region at the moment,” he added.
Maritime New Zealand will meet on Thursday to discuss how an investigation into the collision involving a protest boat and a Japanese security ship in Antarctica will proceed.
Japan’s government-backed whaling fleet aims to harpoon up to 935 mink whales and 50 fin whales, classed as endangered, in the Southern Ocean this season, claiming it is for research purposes.
The Ady Gil collided with the security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 near Commonwealth Bay on Wednesday.
The New Zealand-registered vessel is the powerboat previously known as Earthrace, which set a world circumnavigation record.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claimed the security ship rammed the protesters deliberately.
However, a group representing the Japanese whalers, the Institute of Cetacean Research, said footage of a crash showed the security ship was trying to avoid colliding with the Ady Gil.
The incident was filmed from the Shonan Maru No. 2 and showed that the Ady Gil was stationary, but began to move as the vessels came closer together.
The crash tore about 3 meters off the bow of the Ady Gil, but none of its crew members – five from New Zealand and one from the Netherlands – were hurt. They were rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker.