[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Activists should be thankful


The three Australian protesters who boarded a Japanese security vessel and are soon to be returned to Australia have had a lucky escape, a body representing Japanese whalers says.

The men had risked being taken to Japan and being charged with trespass after boarding the Shonan Maru 2 off the coast of Bunbury on Saturday night.

"These three guys can thank their lucky stars," Institute of Cetacean Research spokesman Glenn Inwood said on Tuesday.

"They did risk being taken back to Japan and charged. For them, it's been a lucky escape.

"If Japan had issues with these three men they would have taken them back, but I think this has been a satisfactory outcome."

The Australian government announced on Tuesday Japan had agreed to release West Australians Geoffrey Tuxworth, 47, Simon Peterffy, 44, and Glen Pendlebury, 27, without charge.

The customs vessel Ocean Protector is on its way to pick them up from the Shonan Maru 2, which is outside Australian waters.

Depending on the weather, it could take "some days" for the three Forest Rescue Australia activists to be collected and returned to Australian soil.

Mr Inwood said the ball was always in the Australian government's court to collect the trio.

He also said he believed the bill for the exercise should be paid by the men, rather than the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which helped them get on board.

"I think the cost should fall squarely on these three men to pay for that. If not it should fall on Sea Shepherd," Mr Inwood said.

After boarding the Shonan Maru 2, the Australians had demanded to be taken back to shore in an attempt to disrupt the security ship's trailing of the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship the Steve Irwin.

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson said on Tuesday he did not know when the handover of the protesters would take place.

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