Thursday, January 12, 2006

Time to send in the navy

I've been watching the news on the confrontation in the Southern Ocean between Japanese "scientific" whalers and Greenpeace over the last week, and its dramatic escalation over the past few days. With ships running into one another and accusations flying, I'm forced to reluctantly agree with the Greens in thinking that the government should send the navy down to keep an eye on things. I'd initially resisted this precisely because it would be seen as an escalation - especially with the Japanese threatening to send armed aircraft from the other side of the world to do the same. But with dumbarse behaviour on both sides, there's now a significant danger of a boat being sunk (either deliberately or by accident), and therefore of the loss of human life on top of the cetacean slaughter. Having a naval vessel on hand would at least mean having some ability to conduct search and rescue operations and minimise this risk.

Today's Herald editorial (offline) notes that

Should a frigate arrive now, the protesters would almost certainly try to draw it into confrontation with the whalers

I think this would apply from both sides, and so caution would be needed. But I also think that the danger to human life is such that its more than justified. While overflights from Orions are good, they're just not enough if anything really bad happens down there.


Much as I am anti whaling (in the sense that it is inhumane and potentially unsustainable)...Sending in the navy is not cheap and will only add fuel to the fire...We also have no jurisdiction down there anyway. If we send anything it should be unarmed observers. Quite frankly though I don't think we should spend taxpayer's money on people who deliberately put themselves in harms way. Sea Shepherd in particular are not innocents who need protecting...they are serious fringe looneys.


Posted by Anonymous : 1/12/2006 09:43:00 PM

In which case you can always think of it as being there to rescue the Japanese if Sea Shepherd does anything even more stupid.

I was going to post on jurisdiction, but since you've raised it: under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (a codification of customary international law), vessels on the high seas are basically only subject to the jurisdiction of the country they are flagged in - in these cases, Canada, the Netherlands, and Panama. So no, we would have no authority to stop or search anyone, unless we suspected them of piracy, trafficing in slaves, or being a pirate radio station. All we could do is observe, and be there to pick up the pieces if they keep being dumbarses. But I think the latter is enough of a moral imperitive to be worthwhile in this case.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/12/2006 11:18:00 PM

I'd like to see the Japanese stopped but what the Skipper of Sea Shepherd did was in clear breach of the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea.

Posted by Peter Mc : 1/13/2006 03:12:00 AM

I'm in favour of sending in the Navy. I've done an open letter here about it.

Interesting analogy by Paul Buchanan on Scoop to 'moderate/militant' and how he compared it to excessive demands in industrial contract negotiations between unions and employers. Sea Shepherd as a foolhardy, boisterious bigger brother to Greeenpeace's astute, passionate ideologues.

Posted by Matt : 1/13/2006 12:09:00 PM

Good letter (your link was broken). I'll zap something off when I've finished the post I'm working on.

My post was in part inspired by Buchanan's article on The Geopolitical Implications Of The Southern Ocean Whaling Conflict, so I guess I should point at that too. I'm less concerned about the dick-waving aspects here (frankly, New Zealand doesn't have a dick militarily speaking, and many of us don't really want one anyway. We should accept it and move on with our lives...), but the prospect of people dying in the Southern Ocean is frightening.

We'd send a frigate or something for a yachtie; we can at least do it for the whales.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/13/2006 12:55:00 PM