Whaling protester secretly boards Japanese boat

An anti-whaling activist climbed aboard a Japanese vessel Monday in the Antarctic Ocean to attempt a citizen's arrest for the destruction of a protest vessel last month, while the whalers decried the boarding as illegal.

Pete Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru 2 in an act that New Zealand's prime minister called dangerous. The protest was another escalation by the US-based Sea Shepherd activist group meant to hamper the whaling activities of the Japanese.

Bethune planned to hand over a bill for $3 million, the cost of replacing the Ady Gil, an activist ship he captained that was destroyed in a collision last month. He also wanted to make a citizen's arrest of the captain of the Shonan Maru 2 for the Ady Gil's destruction and the attempted murder of the six Ady Gil crew members, according to a Sea Shepherd statement.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said Bethune had boarded the Japanese whaling fleet security ship and will demand that the Shonan Maru 2 captain surrender to Sea Shepherd or take his ship to the nearest Australian or New Zealand port to turn himself in to authorities.

But Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors the whale hunt, called the boarding a "publicity stunt" and said it is the Sea Shepherd activist who will be held accountable. In a statement, the institute said the Japanese whalers did not have a means to return Bethune to his ship.

"What he (Bethune) has just done is an illegal act" under maritime law, institute spokesman Glenn Inwood told The Associated Press. "Worst case scenario, he will be taken back to Japan."

However, Donald Rothwell, a professor of international and maritime law at the Australian National University, said Bethune's boarding was not illegal under international law unless he planned to do harm to the crew or imperil the safety of the Shonan Maru 2. Merely making a demand or presenting a letter and a bill did not constitute terrorism or piracy.

Takashi Mori, an official in charge of whaling at Japan's Fisheries Agency, said it was still trying to determine an appropriate response.

Japan has a six-vessel whaling fleet in Antarctic waters as part of its scientific whaling program, an allowed exception to the International Whaling Commission's 1986 ban on commercial whaling. It hunts hundreds of mostly minke whales, which are not an endangered species. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunts.

The Sea Shepherd sends vessels to confront the Japanese whaling fleet each year, trying to block the whalers from firing harpoons and dangling ropes in the water to try to snarl the Japanese ships' propellers.

The whalers have responded by firing water cannons and sonar devices meant to disorient the activists. Collisions have occurred occasionally, including the Jan. 6 collision between the Sea Shepherd's high-tech speedboat Ady Gil and the Shonan Maru 2 that caused the Ady Gil to sink. There were only minor injuries.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand, which have responsibility for maritime rescue in the area where the whale hunt is usually conducted, have repeatedly urged both sides to tone it down.

On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called the latest Antarctic activities "downright dangerous."

"These people are operating in Antarctica, where if you land in the water and (remain) there for more than about 12 minutes, you'll be dead. I don't really think its terribly sensible, that kind of behavior," Key said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
people
News
20. Larry Page: Net worth: $23 billion; Country: U.S; Source of wealth: Google
business
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A collection of 30 Banksy prints at Bonhams auction house in London
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness