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Greenpeace plans protest when Japanese whaling ship docks in Australia
Updated: 2005-12-23 09:29

Greenpeace activists will try to stop a Japanese whaling boat from leaving Australia after its planned arrival Saturday to evacuate a sick crewman, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Carolin Wenzel said the environmental group would do nothing to impede the removal of the sick sailor.

"What we are interested in is making sure the ship does not leave again," she said.

Wenzel said she expected the Japanese whale spotting boat Keiko Maru to receive "a fairly large, colorful reception" from Greenpeace and other local boats and yachts if it docks in Hobart, capital of Australia's southern island state of Tasmania.

Australia's government is a vocal opponent of Japan's whaling program, but Greenpeace accuses Canberra of failing in its diplomatic attempts to halt the annual hunt.

Sen. Bob Brown, leader of the opposition Greens Party, said Australia should send a navy ship to the Antarctic waters to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet.

"Remember, this government has impounded scores of Indonesian fishing boats. It's spent millions chasing pirate ships," Brown said. "But when it comes to this piracy of whales in our waters, it seems to be sitting on its hands."

"One has to wonder if that isn't because the prime minister wants to get a free trade agreement going with the Japanese prime minister in the coming 12 months," he added.

On Thursday, Prime Minister John Howard said he expressed his opposition to whaling at a recent meeting with his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi.

"Although we spent the large part of our meeting discussing Iraq and areas where the Japanese and Australian governments are in full agreement, I did not lose the opportunity of telling him of my continued opposition to Japan's position on whaling," Howard said.

Wenzel said Friday that it was possible the Japanese ship would alter its plan to dock in Hobart due to the planned protests.

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