As the Australian federal government’s deadline to make a decision on the issue of Japanese whalers comes to an end, conservation group The Greens is pushing for a purpose-built vessel to be sent to the Antarctic. They believe it is the only solution to prevent the anticipated clash between eco-activist group Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers who are out conducting “scientific research” in the waters.
Environment minister Greg Hunt vowed to send customs ship to the Southern Ocean to monitor the activities but earlier this week said that it would utilize a surveillance aircraft, an Airbus A319, to monitor both the whalers and anti-whaling ships to avoid violent clashes between the two. Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, whaling spokesperson for The Greens responded, saying that, “Aerial flyovers posting an Australian Customs staff member on a French or other foreign vessel are totally inadequate and would be a cop-out,” and stressed that, New Zealand, which is one-tenth of Australia’s economy, has conducted their own subantarctic patrols.
Sea Shepherd already has three ships on its way to the Antarctic – The Steve Irwin, The Sam Simon and The Bob Barker, off the ports of Tasmania and Victoria while the whaling ships left earlier this month from Japan. Both the Greens Senator Whish-Wilson and Sea Shepherd Australia’s Chairman Bob Brown criticized the government’s failure to keep its promise on sending a ship and called the move, “ugly and irresponsible.” Brown noted that, “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.”
Despite the international moratorium on whaling, Japan has used the loophole of “scientific research” to continue its hunt under the Institute of Cetacean Research. Australia has brought a case against Japan, saying its whaling expedition is illegal because it is for commercial purposes, to the International Court of Justice and they are expected to rule on the matter next year.
[ via BBC ]