By Samantha Hayes
New Zealander Pete Bethune has boarded a Japanese whaling ship under cover of darkness and attempted to arrest the captain for the attempted murder of the Ady Gil crew.
He also presented the captain with a bill of $4.3 million for the destruction of his vessel.
Anti whaling campaigners from the Sea shepherd called it “mission impossible”.
Captain Paul Watson, of the Sea Shepherd Steve Irvin, says the mission was “extremely dangerous”.
“He took a jet ski in the dead of night and boarded a vessel moving at 15 knots through the water - a vessel surrounded by spikes and nets,” he says.
Mr Bethune was on board the Shonan Maru 2 for 90 minutes before he attempted a citizen's arrest of the captain, for what he calls the attempted murder of his crew when their vessels collided.
Mr Bethune's Ady Gil later sank, and today he also presented a bill for $4.3 million to replace it.
Mr Watson says the mission intended to highlight the hypocrisy surrounding the law.
“What we're trying to do here is to send a message to the New Zealand Government to represent the interest of a New Zealand captain and a New Zealand vessel,” he says.
“Because I can tell you right now that if we had had sunk a Japanese vessel we would now be under arrest by the Australian navy.”
Mr Bethune was in contact with the Steve Irwin but his radio has been confiscated.Now he wants to be delivered to New Zealand.
Steve Irwin’s first officer Locky MacLean says the Japanese vessel should return Mr Bethune home.
“There is a loose maritime law that if you sink someone's vessel you’re obliged to give them safe passage home,” he says.
The Japanese have called the boarding illegal. They say it's just not practical for the two ships to pull alongside each other to return Mr Bethune – and he may be taken to Japan.
* Copy of full letter presented to Japanese captain
To: The Captain of the Shonan Maru
From: Pete Bethune – Captain of Ady Gil
Opinions from Maritime experts agree that in the ramming of the Ady Gil, which occurred on 6th January 2010, that you were responsible for the event.
Below is their opinion:
1. You approached from my port side, so I had right of way
2. You were the overtaking vessel so you had an obligation to keep well clear of me
3. Your water canons impeded yours and our view leading up to the ramming, which may have exacerbated the situation
4. You fired LRADs at us, adding to the general state of confusion
5. You turned hard to starboard at the last moment, deliberately ramming my vessel and endangering my crew.
6. The Ady Gil sank as a result of your actions in ramming it.
I am here to arrest you. I am requesting that you transfer now to the Steve Irwin, where we will take you into custody, and we will deliver you to the Maritime Safety Authority and the New Zealand Police once we reach Wellington (New Zealand).
If you refuse to be arrested, then I am requesting that you deliver me to Wellington (New Zealand). Having sunk my vessel, and with our issuing of a mayday call, you have an obligation under maritime law to provide me with safe passage back to land.
I will refuse to be handed over to any Sea Shepherd vessel. I will also refuse to be handed over to any New Zealand or Australian Coastguard, Customs or Naval vessel. I will only leave the Shonan Maru when you transfer with me to the Steve Irwin, or when we arrive on land, be it New Zealand or Australia.
I am enclosing an invoice for US$3m, representing the new replacement cost of the Ady Gil. You are responsible for the collision and as such, you are also responsible for paying for its replacement.
I commit to you that while I am on your vessel, that I will not impede or disrupt your crew and their activities.
I believe strongly that Japan should cease whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale sanctuary. You have no right to go taking these whales, which are over 12,000km
from the shores of Japan.
To argue it is part of your culture does not make it right. Sudan still practices circumcision of women, and they argue it is part of their culture, but that doesn’t make it right.
The way the whales are killed is barbaric. Most western people, and probably most Japanese people, would be appalled if they witnessed the tortured death of a whale as it slowly bleeds out on the end of an explosive harpoon.
Society gradually changes what it perceives as acceptable. Slavery for example was once considered acceptable. Thankfully society changed its view on this. Similarly, whaling was once considered acceptable, but no more.
I am just an ordinary man with a wife and two kids, who is prepared to make a stand against something that I believe is wrong.
That is why I came to Antarctica to try and stop you, and that is why I am here on your vessel today.
Captain – Ady Gil