Thursday, 21 January 2016

Japanese whalers active again in Antarctic waters

Snapshot, Google Earth image of Antarctica, 14 December 2015

Sea Shepherd Australia, Monday 18 January 2016:

Sea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, has departed Fremantle, Western Australia for the Southern Ocean. The ship’s departure marks the official commencement of the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16.

Led by returning Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine waters of Antarctica from poachers, with the aim to shutdown illegal activities in what is the world’s last great wilderness.

Sea Shepherd will employ direct-action techniques to fill a law enforcement void that continues to be exploited by the Japanese whale poaching fleet and the two remaining illegal toothfish vessels, Viking and Kunlun (Taishan), which continue to threaten the survival of the fragile and wild Antarctic ecosystem.

“The Steve Irwin will be the only proactive enforcement presence in Antarctica once again this year. The shadowlands of Antarctica are under threat and we are the only form of protection to the marine wildlife in these unregulated regions. Other than offering direct and immediate protection to the oceans, we intend to investigate and document the illegalities and work with law-enforcement agencies, once again, to aid and close out existing investigations worldwide,” said Captain Chakravarty.

As Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin depart for the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd has called on the governments who are responsible for upholding the laws that protect the Southern Ocean to intervene against these poaching operations.

“Sea Shepherd should not be left to defend Antarctica alone,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen, CEO of Sea Shepherd Global. “For the last 13 years our ships and crews have shone an international spotlight on both the illegal whaling and more recently on the illegal toothfish operations. Now it’s time for governments to step-up and take serious action to address the issue of poaching in the Southern Ocean.”

Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, Jeff Hansen, said, “Sea Shepherd needs reinforcements. 76.9% of Australians want the Australian government to send a vessel to oppose the Japanese whale poaching fleet. Australia has been commended for taking Japan to the ICJ, but now the government needs to take responsibility for enforcement by sending a ship to oppose the whale poachers.”

Up to 333 minke whales will be killed by Japanese whalers hunting in the Southern Ocean in 2016. The whaling fleet set sail for Antarctica on 1 December 2015.

Excerpt from Joint statement on whaling and safety at sea released on 12 January 2016 by the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States:

Our Governments remain resolutely opposed to commercial whaling, in particular in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established by the International Whaling Commission. We do not believe that Japan has sufficiently demonstrated that it has given due regard to the guidance found in the 2014 International Court of Justice judgment on ensuring that lethal research whaling is consistent with the obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. On December 7, 2015, our Governments joined 29 other nations to protest Japan’s decision. We urged Japan to respect the International Whaling Commission’s procedures and the advice of its Expert Review Panel and Scientific Committee. The science is clear: all information necessary for management and conservation of whales can be obtained through non-lethal methods.

We note that the final NEWREP-A research plan, circulated to the Scientific Committee members on November 27, 2015, has not proceeded through the International Whaling Commission’s processes, set out in Resolution 2014-5, which requests that proponents allow the IWC to consider the Scientific Committee’s review of special permit proposals prior to their commencement.

Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States are committed to improving the conservation status of whales worldwide, maintaining the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling, and implementing meaningful reform of the International Whaling Commission.

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