Poachers on the illegal fishing vessel Kunlun use gaffs to drag aboard a large Southern Ocean toothfish. The New Zealand Navy failed in its attempt to board the notorious toothfish poaching vessels, the Yongding and the Songhua, on 14 January 2015. Photo: New Zealand Defence Force

16 January 2015 (ONE News) – Foreign Minister Murray McCully is urging Sea Shepherd to avoid actions that put their lives or the lives of others at risk in the Southern Ocean.

The controversial anti-whaling campaigners claim they're taking over the fight against illegal fishing operations by three boats in the Southern Ocean. A navy patrol vessel, HMNZS Wellington, yesterday abandoned its efforts and is returning to New Zealand, low on fuel.

Mr McCully says while the Government applauds Sea Shepherd's work retrieving illegal nets, it's urging the campaigners to avoid actions that put their lives or the lives of others at risk.

New footage shows the standoff as the New Zealand navy tried to board an illegal fishing vessel poaching toothfish off the Antarctic Coast. But the captain refused to cooperate and went on the run.

Now the Sea Shepherd's Sam Simon ship has vowed to continue the fight.

"I'll be using my vessel to blockade their fishing operation. If they've got fishing gear out, I'll stop them from retrieving that gear," Sid Chakravarty, captain of the Sam Simon told ONE News.

The Sam Simon's crew has already spent the last three weeks confiscating 60 kilometres of illegal gill nets in the Southern Ocean. It has now changed course to hunt the poaching ships in the Ross Sea.

"If the navy with the authority to act down here sends out the message that the poachers can continue to poach these waters and take fish illegally without any consequence, then I intend to send a different message," Captain Chakravarty says. […]

Labour's Defence spokesperson Phil Goff, however, says New Zealand's failure to detain pirate fishing vessels poaching endangered species in our region is simply not good enough.

"We send New Zealand naval vessels to the Arabian Gulf to board pirate ships there but seem to lack the ability to detain pirate fishing boats in our own back yard," Mr Goff says.

"These boats were caught red-handed fishing illegally, yet were able to thumb their noses at the New Zealand Navy. It's like police catching burglars in the act but being unable to detain and take action against them," he says.

The Government owes New Zealanders a full explanation as to why our navy is unable to carry out its task of effectively policing maritime areas for which we have responsibility, Mr Goff says. [more]

Minister urges Sea Shepherd not to risk lives in Southern Ocean


By Captain Paul Watson
16 January 2015

(Facebook) – After years of criticism by New Zealand for interfering with illegal whaling by Japan, the Foreign Minister of New Zealand Murray McCully, says he now applauds Sea Shepherd's efforts to confiscate the illegally set gill net set by the Nigerian flagged poacher the Thunder.

This is the same Foreign Minister who reprimanded Sea Shepherd for not securing permission from his government to land a helicopter on Ross Island during Sea Shepherd's successful search for the missing life rafts from the Norwegian yacht Bezerk that sank in February 2011. When it was pointed out that it was a Search and Rescue mission and thus Sea Shepherd could not wait for the three month period to obtain a permit to land, McCully said that the would refrain from fining Sea Shepherd but that we were not to land without a permit again.

Sea Shepherd received a commendation from New Zealand Search and Rescue despite the Minister's rebuke at the time.

Another interesting connection is that during the search for the Beserk in 2011, both the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin and the New Zealand's Navy Frigate Wellington were involved with the search. The Wellington was forced to turn back because of extreme weather conditions whereas the Steve Irwin pushed through the storm and located the liferaft. Sea Shepherd also recovered a lost liferaft from the Wellington that was blown off the deck of the frigate by the storm.

McCully has warned Sea Shepherd to not risk human life in the pursuit. Sea Shepherd has an unblemished record of not causing or sustaining injuries but the reality is that risking our lives is something that Sea Shepherd has done for many years in our efforts to protect life in the Ocean. It has always seemed to me that risking our lives to defend life and diversity in the oceans is more important than young people being asked to risk their lives to defend oil companies and real estate for political objectives.

On the other hand Sea Shepherd supports and applauds the efforts of the New Zealand government to work to pressure Panama, Spain, and others to crack down on the owners of these ships. Hopefully they will have success pursuing these diplomatic channels. The New Zealand and Australian Navy boards armed pirate vessels off Somalia so it would seem that boarding a poaching vessel in their own waters would be less difficult.

And of course this report brings in yet another academic "expert" to defend the government position.

Meanwhile the Sam Simon is on the hunt for the three poachers with the intention of intercepting them to stop their continued plundering of the Southern Ocean Toothfish population. The Bob Barker continues to pursue the Thunder as they slowly get closer to Africa.

New Zealand Now Supports Sea Shepherd Efforts, Kind of, Sort of, Well Maybe.

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