But this has nothing to do with whaling. Stuff.co.nz reports the 85m HMNZS Otago will be monitoring fishing activities. Inspectors from the Ministry for Primary Industries are aboard to conduct compliance checks on the Southern Ocean's legal fishing fleet.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray Muddling McCully: "NZ takes its commitment to Sthrn Ocean conservation seriously. It's vital that we play our part in tackling illegal fishing activities." It's a tragedy that McCully won't extend this commitment to whales!
HMNZS Otago, having patrolled in the Sthrn Ocean for the last three seasons, has sound operational experience of the extremely challenging and bitter weather conditions. The surface patrols will be complemented by RNZAF Orions.
The licenced fishing season in NZ's area of responsibility is from 01 Dec.2013 until the agreed limits are reached (usually Jan./early Feb.)...which coincidentally is about the same as Japan's illegal whaling activities in the same region. And we await the start of Sea Shepherd's Operation Relentless, its 10th defence of whales in the Sthrn Ocean.
Muddling McCully has in the part mumbled about supporting Australia against Nippon Antarctic whaling, but has done nothing realistic about it - despite a huge amount of NZ voters wanting a physical deterrent down there. Even a 'drive-by' of Otago past the whaling factory ship Nisshan Maru would make a point...
Platitudes don't count when the harpoons fire.