Australia May Get Tough with Pirate Whalers

All it will take is a vote to save the whales in the Southern Oceans.

If a Labour government is elected under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, Japan may find itself driven out of a large area of Antarctica where for 20 years they have been illegally slaughtering whales with impunity.

"Finally we have some politicians with the guts to take on these pirate whalers," said Sea Shepherd Founder and President Captain Paul Watson. "Sea Shepherd has sailed to the remote waters of Antarctica two years in a row to confront and stop the illegal whaling operations of the Japanese fleet. We have had to fill a void and enforce the international laws protecting whales which are flagrantly being violated because no government has had the will to do it. However, Australia has the power and the authority to defend the whales from Japanese outlaw whaling operations. If a Rudd government is elected we will hold them to this promise."

According to Kevin Rudd, the leader of the Labour Party, gunboats will be sent out to protect whales in Southern Ocean Sanctuary. The navy would be deployed to enforce laws banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

This is an action that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been urging the Australian government to take for over a decade. If Australia acts, it will be the most aggressive attempt to save the whales in over two centuries by Australians in Australian waters. According to Rudd, whalers found operating illegally could be intercepted and boarded at sea.

Australia's Whale Sanctuary was established in 1999, but since 1986 more than 10,000 whales have been illegally slaughtered and processed by the Japanese factory fleet.

There has not been a single prosecution.

Rudd said that ocean patrols would be backed up by legal action and Japan would be taken to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

According to the Labour Party, Japanese whaling is a direct threat to a major Australian tourism resource - whale watching.

The Labour Party will release its policy on the eve of the 59th Annual International Whaling Commission Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, as Japanese whalers arrogantly prepare to once again return to southern waters for so-called "scientific" kills.

Its fleet is expected to haul in 850 Antarctic Minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales, and, for the first time, 50 endangered humpback whales.

Australia's anti-whaling measures were strongly sponsored by former Environment Minister Ian Campbell, but his successor Malcolm Turnbull put an end to any progress on ending whaling for fear of upsetting Japanese interests.

"We were beginning to make some progress with Senator Campbell," said Captain Paul Watson. "He was sincerely dedicated to protecting whales in Australian waters but the Howard government removed him and replaced him with the unapproachable Malcolm Turnbull who is more interested in pursuing business deals with Japan than protecting the whales."

Sea Shepherd is preparing a ship to return in November to the Southern Oceans to once again intervene against illegal Japanese whaling operations.

"I have been saying for years that we should not be doing this. This is the responsibility of the Australian and New Zealand governments," said Captain Watson. "If Australia decides to intervene then we will happily defer to their authority. The question is, however, will they intervene? It appears that that decision is now in the hands of the voters."  

Click here to read the Daily Telegraph article on this subject.

Click here to read about Sea Shepherd's current campaign to save whales.