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Sea Shepherd Halts Hunt for Whalers to seek Repairs in Hobart

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
Just as the Australian Government announced new protest measures against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the Sea Shepherd has had a mechanical failure forcing it to return to Hobart for repairs.
steve_irwin_searching_071215.jpg

According to a report in the Age newspaper the Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin, blew a piston forcing it to halt its search and head for Hobart for repairs by Sunday and sail again within 48 hours. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has also had its mechanical problems departing Auckland on Thursday...minus its helicopter. Unfortunately the Greenpeace helicopter needed mechanical repairs, and a decision was taken to sail without it. The helicopter is useful for trying to locate the whaling fleet in the millions of miles of icy ocean. Greenpeace have in the past rejected offers by Sea Shepherd to co-operate in locating the whaling fleet.

Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in a press conference on Thursday detailed that the Fisheries and Customs ship Oceanic Viking would be used for surveillance for 20 days, with the guns and armaments onboard locked away. Additionally, the Australian Antarctic Division Airbus A-319 operating out of the Casey Australian Antarctic base will be used for photographic and video surveillance of the whaling Fleet. Australia will also lead a group of anti-whaling nations in lodging a formal protest with the Japanese government within the next few days against the sham of 'scientific whaling'.

The Oceanic Viking is in Fremantle, Western Australia, preparing to depart for the Southern ocean in the next few days.

Peter Garrett told the press "You don't have to harpoon them to find out important scientific information about them. It's cruel, it's barbaric and it's unnecessary."

Stephen Smith said Australia would seek to end tthe so-called scientific whaling in the International Whaling Commission, and that the Government is considering pursuing international legal action through all avenues including the Whaling Convention, the Endangered Species Convention, the International Court of Justice, and the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea. Legal opinions from the Australian Government Solicitor and independent legal opinion is not expected to be handed to the Government until early January.

Captain Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd Conservation ship Steve Irwin near Antarctica was very disappointed with the Government's actions "There is very little that is new here. The Australian government is going to take some pictures of the Japanese whalers killing whales but will do nothing to intervene against the slaughter. This is simply more pictures, more talk and more posturing, in short more of the same approaches that have totally failed for the last twenty-one years."

Watson accused Australia of applying fishing regulations haphazardly : enforcing fishing regulations against Toothfish poachers from Uruguay yet will not intervene against the slaughter of the whales in the same waters that are clearly marked on the nautical charts as part of the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone. "Our response to Australia's announcement of their 'plan' to protect the whales is to drop the camera and pick up your guns and enforce the bloody laws, mate." said Watson.

Pressure on Japan continues to mount with reports that the American ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, has negotiated an informal agreement for Japan to suspend its hunt of humpback whales until the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June. Tomohiko Taniguchi, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman denied any agreement at this stage saying "To take the concerns and anger of Australian people and other people into consideration, I think the Japanese government has started to have an intensive discussion about what steps should be taken," according to the report in the International Herald Tribune.

The Australian Federal Court is also due to hand down a decision on whether the Australian Government should enforce a ban on whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The case was brought by by the Humane Society International (HSI). The previous Government of John Howard opposed the case, but the new Attorney General, Robert McClelland, has indicated Labor will not stand in the way. Nicola Beynon from Humane Society International (HSI) said "We can bring the matter to court and we can secure the injunction, but it will be over to the Australian Government to enforce the injunction. We're waiting for judgement any day now." If the Court finds against the whalers "then the Government's going to have to look at tougher measures than just monitoring the hunt," she said.

In New Zealand the editor of the Dominion Post newspaper, Tim Pankhurst, was ejected by security from the Japanese embassy for attempting to deliver a letter to Japan's ambassador to New Zealand, Toshihiro Takahashi, calling for the cessation of its annual whaling campaign. The Dominion Post is running a widely supported campaign in New Zealand against the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean by the Japanese whaling fleet.

Aircraft patrols from the New Zealand Defence Force are monitoring all activity in the southern ocean, including where the whalers are hunting and what they are catching.

Sources:

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