Japan's Whalers And Conservationists Heading For An Icy Clash In Antarctic Waters

Sea Shepherd ships leave Australia.

Today is the federal government’s own deadline to announce what it’s going to do to monitor whaling by Japan in the Antarctic this season.

The Greens say nothing less than sending a purpose built vessel ready for Antarctic conditions will be a credible solution.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens, whaling spokesman, says: “Aerial flyovers or posting an Australian Customs staff member on a French or other foreign vessel are totally inadequate and would be a cop-out. Even New Zealand with an economy one-tenth of that of Australia conducts its own subantarctic patrols.”

Environment minister Greg Hunt says Australia will use a surveillance aircraft to monitor both Japan’s whaling fleet and the anti-whaling ships in Antarctic next month.

“It will be to ensure that there is a presence to make sure that there is no conflict between the parties,” he says.

“It will also be to make sure there is an awareness between that the parties that the world is watching.”

The customs service will use an Airbus A319 flying from Australia.

The conservation group Sea Shepherd has three ships — The Steve Irwin, The Sam Simon and The Bob Barker – now sailing toward the Antarctic from the Australian ports of Hobart in Tasmania and Williamstown in Victoria.

The whaling ships left Japan earlier this month.

However, the Greens Senator Whish-Wilson says:

“I have been repeatedly calling on Greg Hunt to meet his election commitment to send our purpose built ACV Ocean Protector or its sister vessel the ADV Ocean Shield to act on whaling in the Southern Ocean. Time and time again Greg Hunt has refused to answer if this will happen and when pressed on the 10th of December he asked for ten days grace to come up with a solution – his time is now up.”

Sea Shepherd Australia’s Chairman, Bob Brown, described the government’s failure to keep its election promise as “ugly and irresponsible”.

“Prime Minister Abbott and Greg Hunt have harpooned the Christmas hope that they would keep their word,” Dr Brown says. “They are effectively turning a blind eye to the Japanese slaughter because they have been advised that, otherwise, they would have to intervene and enforce the Federal Court injunction against the slaughter.”

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