Australian government urged to lodge whaling protest with Japan


SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras:06/01/2014

Australian government urged to lodge whaling protest with Japan

Green party says prime minister must intervene after Sea Shepherd activists ‘chased’ Japanese vessels from sanctuary


The Australian government has been urged to lodge a formal protest with Japan after activists said they chased the Japanese whaling fleet from a designated whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd said three of its vessels chased Japanese boats from the area. Sea Shepherd also released video footage that appears to show the butchering of four minke whales on the deck of Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.

The Greens party said the prime minister, Tony Abbott, should raise the issue of whaling directly with the Japanese government.

“After six years of rhetoric from [environment minister] Greg Hunt calling on the previous government to stop the blood in the water in the Southern Ocean, it is time for him to act,” Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said.

“Greg Hunt must immediately walk into Tony Abbott’s office and get him to call the prime minister of Japan and issue a protest on behalf of the Australian people.”

Whish-Wilson said Hunt and Abbott should decide if they “stand on the side of the Australian people or on the side of whale murderers”.

The Sea Shepherd fleet – which includes the vessels the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon – engaged the Japanese fleet of five ships for the first time during the current whaling season on Sunday.

The whaling boats were operating within the whale sanctuary in New Zealand’s territorial waters, located in the Ross Sea in Antarctica, according to Sea Shepherd.

Conservationists argue that Australia should enforce its own Antarctic territory by cracking down on whaling, which has been deemed unlawful by the federal court. However, only four nations – which do not include Japan – recognise Australia’s claim to Antarctic land and sea territory.

Video shot by Sea Shepherd aircraft appears to show three minke whales loaded onto the deck of the Nisshin Maru. Activists say a fourth whale was being cut apart at the time of the filming, with crew members seen mopping up large pools of blood on the deck.

Sea Shepherd said the Japanese fleet fled out of the whale sanctuary without violent confrontation. There was no sign of either the HMNZS Otago, which is patrolling New Zealand’s southern waters during whaling season, nor the Australian government aircraft, which was put forwardby environment minister Greg Hunt in lieu of the customs vessel he promised before the election.

Hunt’s department said it would not discuss the activities of the aircraft for “operational security purposes” but said patrols would be based on “ongoing assessments” of maritime security threats.

“It is the responsibility of the masters of all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean during the 2013-14 whaling season to ensure that the safety of human life at sea is not endangered,” a Department of Environment spokeswoman said.

“While the Australian government is committed to meeting its obligations under the Safety of Life at Sea [Solas] convention, the area of the Southern Ocean where this activity takes place is remote. In a Solas incident it could take days for a vessel to travel to the location where assistance is required.

“Australia unreservedly condemns any dangerous, reckless or unlawful behaviour, whether in the Southern Ocean or elsewhere.”

Asked what an aircraft could do to deter illegal fishing in Australian-claimed waters or prevent the loss of life during clashes between protestors and whalers, the spokeswoman said: “It is the responsibility of the masters of all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean during the 2013-14 whaling season to ensure that the safety of human life at sea is not endangered.

“Any further course of action by Australia would occur in accordance with the international and domestic laws applicable to the specific circumstances of the incident.”

Jeff Hansen, the managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia, told Guardian Australia that the Japanese fleet was “on the run”.

“We are keeping on their tail and they aren’t whaling at the moment so we’re happy about that, at least,” he said. “There is no need for confrontation, the number one priority is the protection of whales.”

Hansen said the minke whales killed could include some that weretagged by Australian scientists last year to measure their progress from the Great Barrier Reef down the east coast to Victoria.

“We are disappointed but not surprised we didn’t see any other vessel from Australia,” he said. “In opposition, political parties say they will have the guts to stand up to the whalers, but when it comes to it we are the only ones who do. They just don’t want to do it.

“There’s an Australian federal court order banning the slaughter of whales. The government doesn’t want to see the whalers breaking the law and have to arrest them. They just don’t want the headache with Tokyo, simple as that.”

Hansen said the aerial monitoring was a “waste of taxpayer money”, adding that he had already sent images and video to Hunt to show what the Japanese fleet had been doing.

Last year Australia took Japan to the international court of justice in an attempt to force it to stop whaling, which Japan claims is for legitimate scientific purposes. A decision on the case is expected soon.

Source: The Guardian


Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 


~ by FSVSF Admin on 6 January, 2014.

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