Several states that oppose whaling – the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand – warned on Friday environmentalist groups and Japanese whalers against violent conflicts that might occur, stating that such action can put human life into danger.
The anti-whaling nations said in a joint statement that they respected the right to protest on the high seas, provided it was non-violent and conducted safely.
“However, we unreservedly condemn dangerous, reckless or unlawful behavior by all participants on either side, whether in the Southern Ocean or elsewhere,” they said.
“We will deal with unlawful activity in accordance with relevant international and domestic laws.”
The environmentalist anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd headed for the Antarctic waters on Wednesday, planning to stop the Japanese whaling fleet. The group said it expected increased aggression from the Japanese whalers after its harassment tactics kept the cull to a record low last season.
The hunt netted just 103 minke whales, less than half its tally the previous year, and no fin whales, with Japanese authorities blaming “unforgivable sabotage” by activists, according to the international press.
The anti-whaling nations asked the Japanese vessels to do everything they can to prevent any collision “in order to avoid the risk of loss of life or injury and damage to property or the marine environment”.