Sea Shepherd Responds to Australian Government:
"Enforce The Bloody Laws, Mate"

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says Australia is formally protesting to Japan about its whaling, which he says is whale slaughter, not scientific activity. He says he has already made representations to the Japanese Government.

"The Australian Government will take all diplomatic measures to seek to persuade the Japanese Government to stop the whale slaughter," he said.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says this is nothing new as this is what has been done every year for the last 20 years.

"We need enforcement and we need action on this atrocity," said Captain Paul Watson, "we don't need anymore pictures of dying whales. Greenpeace has been taking pictures for years and it has not stopped the killing of the whales."

In November the Labor government of Kevin Rudd was elected partly on a promise to take a more aggressive position in opposing Japanese whaling. The government made their announcement today and according to Sea Shepherd it is the same old approach as before but this time dressed up in a different costume.

Australia is going to send the Customs vessel Oceanic Viking to monitor the Japanese for 20 days. And just so the Japanese do not get overly offended, they are going to remove their guns.  Additionally, they are going to take pictures of the whales being killed.

"There is very little that is new here," said Captain Paul Watson from onboard the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin off the coast of Antarctica. "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."

Regarding the voyage of the Oceanic Viking, Smith said, "It'll be surveillance, not enforcement or interdiction or intervention for the purposes of that surveillance, the customs boarding party will not be armed, and the Ocean Viking will not be armed. This is a surveillance activity ... for the purpose of assessing the merits of taking an international legal case against the whaling."

Mr. Smith said instead of force, the Government would try to use diplomacy.

"We've also commenced ... a formal diplomatic protest, which is Australia sending a formal diplomatic protest with other nations, to the Japanese Government in Tokyo, and that will be effected over the next few days," he said. "We will appoint a diplomatic envoy to seek to persuade the Japanese Government of the correctness and the rightness of our cause. We will up our activity in the International Whaling Commission, to seek to use our voice in the International Whaling Commission to bring an end to the so-called scientific whaling."

Mr. Smith said the Government is also considering pursuing international legal action. Smith said the Attorney-General has commissioned Commonwealth Government and independent legal advice to see what options Australia can take against the whaling. He said the Government may take action before the International Court of Justice and the Tribunal for Law of the Sea, using the Whaling Convention and the Endangered Species Convention. He said the Government expects to receive its legal advice early next year. The Opposition had previously warned the Government not to send the Navy.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is deeply disappointed by this announcement from the Australian government. Sea Shepherd does not understand how Australia can enforce fishing regulations against Toothfish poachers from Uruguay yet cannot intervene against the slaughter of the whales in these same water, waters that are clearly marked on the nautical charts as part of the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone.

"This new approach clearly has the approval of the government, particularly the Japanese government with whom Australia most likely consulted for the proper and acceptable wording," said Captain Watson.  "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."