‘NZ Should Arrest Whalers’

Sea Shepherd Captain in Wellington calls on our Govt. to take action v. Japanese whalers

Alan Tristram reports; photos by Helen Tristram

The captain of the anti-whaling ship Bob Barker now berthed in Wellington has a message for the NZ Government – do much more to stop Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters.

In an exclusive interview with the Kāpiti Independent, Captain Peter Hammarstedt says a lot of whaling has been taking place in ‘NZ’s Antarctic waters’ – and will be occurring in the Ross Sea in the coming whaling season.

Captain Hammarstedt says: “So the New Zealand Government has every ability and every authority to actually arrest these guys (the Japanese whalers) and treat them like the poachers they are.”

Sailing direct to Antarctic waters

The captain’s ship Bob Barker will sail this week direct to Antarctic waters to join three other Sea Shepherd boats to lie in wait for the Japanese whaling fleet.

To people who criticise their ‘direct action’ tactics, Captain Hammarstedt, who is 28 and comes from Stockholm, says:

“If people are critical of Sea Shepherd, then they should be looking at their own governments and being critical of them!

“Because if these Governments were doing their job, there would be no need for us to go down at all.”

The captain and his 36 crew from many parts of the world say they love Wellington and its people – the friendliness of locals and the charm of the Capital being key points in its favour.

Crew preepared to risk their own live

Most, but not all, of the crew are young – the captain, at 28, being case in point. But all are asked, before they sign on, whether they are prepared to risk their lives to save the life of a whale.

This is a distinct possibility because the task of the Bob Barker, a sturdy former whaling ship, is to manoeuvre right in behind the loading ramp of the Japanese factory ship.

As Captain Hammarstedt puts it, ‘so we’re only two cable lengths away from this floating abattoir.’

Then they follow the factory ship through high seas, fog and mist and whatever else it takes to stop the six-ship Japanese fleet from whaling.

The Bob Barker is too slow to tail the three Japanese harpoon boats; so inflatables stowed on its deck are used for this purpose.

And are the anti-whalers succeeding?

Stopping the killing is a success in itself

Yes, says the captain: “Every year we come back and have stopped them killing whales is a success in itself.

“And for two years in a row they have not been able to make a profit, or even cover expenses.

“The only reason they’re going down this year is because of a $30million subsidy from the Japanese Government – which was taken directly from tsunami relief funds.’

He adds confidently: “We have them on the ropes.”