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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 09:57 GMT
Australia confronts Japanese whaler
A Japanese whaling vessel that entered Australian waters in the Antarctic has been ordered out by an Australian research vessel.

A government spokesman said the research ship, the Aurora Australis, came across the whaler early on New Year's Day about 70km (38 nautical miles) inside Australia's economic exclusion zone, near Prydz Bay.

The whaler was told to leave and the authorities believe it returned to its factory ship.

Greenpeace ship MV Arctic Sunrise in the Antarctic
The Greenpeace ship MV Arctic Sunrise has been tracking the whaling fleet
There was no evidence that the Japanese ship was engaged in whaling at the time of the incident.

An Australian Government spokesman said the government was restricted in its actions because Japan is one of a number of countries which do not recognise territorial claims in the Antarctic.

Whaling fleet

The whaler was with a fleet of five Japanese vessels that set sail in early November, planning to catch around 400 Minke whales.

Japan maintains Minke whales are abundant despite complaints from environmentalists.

Although Japan gave up commercial whaling in line with an international moratorium in 1986, it has been carrying out what it calls scientific research whaling since 1987.

The environmental group Greenpeace, which has been following the fleet since it left Japan, congratulated the Australian Government for its stand.

"They should not be whaling at all given the internationally agreed moratorium on commercial whaling, let alone be whaling in these waters which are part of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," spokesman Kieran Mulvaney said from the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise.

See also:

17 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Whalers battle protesters
14 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Greenpeace disrupts Japan whalers
06 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese whalers prepare for hunt
04 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Whaling 'safe for a century'
27 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Green group backs limited whale hunt
26 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Whaling ban survives intact
18 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan admits trading whale votes
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