Australia urges release of whaling activists on Japan ship

January 9, 2012 03:21

CANBERRA - Australia is seeking assurances from Japan on the safety of three anti-whaling activists detained while boarding a Japanese whaling fleet security ship and said that the vessel, sailing in Australian economic waters, was not welcome.

The three Australian men, who illegally boarded the whaling support vessel Shonan Maru 2 in darkness off the coast of Western Australia state on Sunday, were subject to Japanese laws because they had been detained on the high seas, Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said on Monday.

But the presence of the Japanese security ship threatened to stoke tensions over the yearly Japanese whale cull in the frigid Southern Ocean, Roxon said, and could worsen clashes with the anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd, which has targeted the fleet for the last eight years.

"We've made very clear that this boat is not a welcome boat in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," Roxon told Australian television, hinting the government could order action against the Japanese ship if it strayed further into Australian waters.

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