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Asia-Pacific
Australia condemns 'sick' whaling
Government releases images of Japanese whale hunt off Antarctica.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2008 23:18 GMT

Japan insists the whaling is for scientific
research [Photo: Australian Customs]

The Australian government has stepped up its condemnation of Japanese whaling, releasing new pictures of the ongoing whale hunt in waters off Antarctica.
 
Peter Garrett, the Australian environment minister, described the photographs taken by a government ship tracking the whalers as sickening.
He also rejected Japanese claims that the hunt is for scientific research.
 
"This isn't about science. It isn't about research ... they're calling it science but really it's killing whales," Garrett told Australia's Nine Network television on Thursday.

"When I saw the photos I just felt a bit of a sick feeling as well as a sense of sadness," he said.

 

Evidence

 

Garrett said he felt queasy looking at photos
of the dying whales [GALLO/GETTY]
The photographs and video were taken from an Australian customs vessel tracking the whalers to gather evidence for possible legal action to stop the annual hunt.

 

The images show the death throes of harpooned whales and their carcasses, including that of a minke whale and a calf, being hauled aboard the main processing ship.

 

Australia plans to stop the whale hunt but has not decided who to prosecute and in what court, Bob Debus, the Australian home affairs minister, said.

 

Describing the photographs as "evidence", Debus said they could be used against Japan to halt the annual slaughter.


"They will help us to back up the Australian government's argument in an international court case, the details of which are still to be worked out, to suggest that whaling should be stopped."

 

'Mistaken information'

 

Japan accused Australia of releasing "mistaken
information" [Photo: Australian Customs]

Hideki Moronuki, chief of the Japanese Fishing Agency's whaling section, accused Australia of producing "mistaken information" by releasing the pictures of the slaughtered whale and the calf.

 

He said the fleet is "engaged in random sampling, which means they are taking both large and small whales".

 

"This is not a parent and calf."

 

Moronuki also criticised the Australian ship for coming too close to the whaler to take the photographs, and called for all kinds of "dangerous action" to stop.

 

"That is the sort of dangerous action that Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace have engaged in, and we strongly hope that they stop," he said, referring to conservation groups that have harassed the whalers.

 

The fleet was forced to suspend its hunt in mid-January after confrontations at sea with anti-whaling activists from both the groups.

Source:
Agencies
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