January 14, 2006 | Graham

Marine Lawyer speaks for himself on ramming

I’ve corresponded with Eric Wilson, the marine lawyer referred to in my previous post, and he is happy for me to post the contents of his email to me. It raises its own issues about how the media is dealing with this issue, and by extension, media conduct in general. We refer to what we do at On Line Opinion as “gatekeeping lite” – the aim is to let people speak for themselves. Wilson draws attention to how far in the other direction “gatekeeping heavy” can go.

Frankly, I was a little upset with the story that the NZ HERALD ran. We were on the phone together for 20 minutes and for 18 minutes of that we were discussing the Whale Sanctuary, the Antarctic Convention, and the International Whaling Convention, which is what I thought the interview was actually about. None of that actually appeared.
I made it clear that we were geting unclear, conflicting, and garbled reports about what was actually happening. I also made it clear that we all required much more information than was currently available, including the captain’s logs and satellite positions, if any were available.
I also did not say that the MARU rammed SUNRISE; you will notice that I specify that SUNRISE did the actual ramming i.e. contact of prow into hull. What I DID SAY was that IF the MARU skipper wanted to create an incident he COULD have done so by executing a 360 degree turn under the right conditions.
When I was doing the Channel 9 “sound-bite” interview – 95% of which did not make it to air – I said three things.
1. From the Japanese video that I saw, it would appear that the MARU was always to the port of SUNRISE, which would normally place the burden upon them to avoid a collision; I believe that the Japanese have recently conceded this, but I may be mistaken. However, there is ALSO a report that the SUNRISE was slowly turning towards MARU while it was executing its turn; I have no evidence of this one way or another.
2.My overall impression of both reports is that there is a very dangerous game of “chicken” going on in the Southern Ocean, and things may have gotten out of hand in this instance, with neither side acting in especially good faith.
3. That the issue of collision, while certinly serious in itself,in this particular instance, is quite subordinate to the overarching legality of the whaling and the jurisdictional aspectsof the Anarctic Ocean.

Posted by Graham at 3:07 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Environment


  1. “3. That the issue of collision, while certinly serious in itself, in this particular instance, is quite subordinate to the overarching legality of the whaling and the jurisdictional aspects of the Anarctic[sic] Ocean.”
    which, to me, is the real issue for discussion – not the week long arm waving about stupid hijinks played out in the media.
    regardless of which way one leans, the japanese have gained a lot of distraction points out of this. while everyone is talking about who did or didn’t do what, no one’s talking about why everyone is down there at all.

    Comment by maelorin — January 16, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

  2. And whose fault is that maelorin? All Greenpeace’s. If they hadn’t said they’d been rammed when the reverse had occurred no-one would have been thinking about it too much.

    Comment by Graham Young — January 17, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

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