Japanese whaling ships on their annual hunt in the Antarctic are banned from docking in Australia and should use restraint in looming clashes with protesters, Canberra said yesterday.
A fleet of six Japanese whalers plans to kill nearly 1,000 whales in the name of research, while activists from Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd conservation groups have threatened to stop them.
Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said he was strongly opposed to whaling and the Japanese fleet operating in the Southern Ocean would not be allowed to enter Australian ports.
"They can only do that with my permission and I will not grant permission to Japanese whaling vessels or support vessels to use Australian ports," he said. "They are banned from Australian ports as long as I'm the minister."
Campbell urged the Japanese whalers to shun the use of water cannons against protesters, saying confrontations during previous hunts had put lives at risk.
"In the deep Southern Ocean, shooting a powerful water cannon at a human being puts them at risk of falling into the ocean," he said. "Death through either propeller strike, hypothermia or being struck by a ship is a very high risk."
The water cannon were used last year against Greenpeace protesters who deployed small rubber boats to put themselves between the harpoons and the whales.
Greenpeace will harass the Japanese fleet with its fastest ship, the 72m Esperanza, scheduled to leave New Zealand for the Southern Ocean on Jan. 25.
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