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POLAR CODE

As the season of Japanese whaling operations and the anti-whaling operations comes upon the Southern Ocean once again interesting news comes from New Zealand. Meeting in Wellington, NZ are the forty-seven signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty. The Treaty was first signed in 1959 (at that time I lived in NZ) with New Zealand as one of a dozen Founding Nations. This is interesting in itself because the latest addition to the anti-whaling group is the DVC "Ady Gil" whose Flag State, we understand, is New Zealand. In the past years New Zealand has declared the anti-whaling groups unwelcome in their country. One of the spokespersons for the Japanese whaling fleet was from New Zealand. Some interesting cross currents there NAUTICAL LOG thinks.

The Antarctic Treaty is the world's tool for managing the continent and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is discussing the possibility of imposing a 'Polar Code' to control shipping in the region. All this sounds very noble but it is a political smokescreen. Over the last years the Australian Government has declined to take any effective action against the Japanese Government for sending its whaling fleet into the Australian Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Quite easily the Australian Government could have stationed its Naval vessels in their own Sanctuary to protect it. The Japanese could have been instructed to observe international maritime law and not enter the Sanctuary. But no instead we have the seasonal whale wars and piratical actions of the anti-whaling group all of which is ignored by the IMO which is charged to prevent this type of nautical thuggery.

So now once again we have the International Maritime Organization imposing its viewpoint as yet another maritime regulation, which can then be ignored without penalty by those who choose to do so.

The Polar Code will cover vessel design, safety equipment, ship operations and crew training for ice navigation. It is due to be put in place in 2013, with a ban on heavy fuel carriage or usage to come into effect in 2011. One would have thought and indeed hoped that after fifty years the Founding Nations would patrol the area and impose the Antarctic Treaty that currently exists before imposing a whole new collect of maritime laws which, judging from past behaviour will not be enforced. Meanwhile of course the Japanese hunter-killers continue whaling in a Sanctuary and the anti-whaling pirate group continues attacking them.

Is it any wonder that there is a high degree of sympathy for the anti-whaling pirate group even if their methods are deplorable.

Good Watch.

PS. We do not know how the "Ady Gil" is powered. A nautical acquaintance referred to it as "Darth Vader's boat" thus Darth Vader craft (DVC).

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