The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin arrived in Hobart, Tasmania at 1700 Hours on February 20th. The ship was met at dockside by a party of Federal Australian Police officers who boarded the Steve Irwin with a warrant.
The warrant authorized the seizing of "all edited and raw video footage, all edited and raw audio recordings, all still photographs, producer's notes, interview transcripts, production meeting minutes, post production meeting minutes as well as the ship's log books, global positioning system records, automatic radar plotting aid, purchase records, receipts, financial transaction records, voyage information and navigational plotted charts."
The Animal Planet series Whale Wars was very embarrassing to the Japanese government and the Japanese whaling industry in 2008. Japan does not wish to see the airing of the second season of Whale Wars and is putting as much diplomatic pressure on Australia as they possibly can to prevent further exposure of their illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.
"I wish that the Australian government would apply the same "diplomatic" pressure on Japan to end their illegal whaling operations," said Captain Paul Watson. "The Rudd government was elected on a promise to take the Japanese whaling industry to court for their illegal whaling activities. Now they seem to be more interested in taking Sea Shepherd to court for our efforts to intervene against illegal whaling operations."
Captain Paul Watson said he would welcome a trial.
"We have to start somewhere so it may as well be by taking me to court. Let us get the evidence on the table and although a trial against Sea Shepherd and myself may not allow the introduction of evidence about Japan's illegal whaling operations, it at least will give us the forum to present our evidence. Let's see the Australian government bring the Japanese whale killers to Australia to bear witness against Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet and let's see them appear as witnesses for the government of Australia that professes to be against whaling."
"It's a very one-sided affair," continued Captain Watson. "The Japanese ships have not been boarded by the Australian Federal Police; they have not had their video and navigational data confiscated. They have not been questioned nor will they be, yet they violently attacked my ship and crew in the Southern Ocean. Does the law only go to bat for those who destroy nature's creation? Are we about to see the ultimate kangaroo court where Sea Shepherd will be legally crucified because the Australian government has not lived up to their promise of taking the whale killers to court? The truth is that we would not have to be in the Southern Ocean defending the whales if the governments of the world would simply enforce the international conservation treaties they once so proudly signed into law. Without enforcement there is no law - just ecological anarchy."
Captain Watson said he had no complaints about the Australian Federal Police.
"They were very professional and polite and they were doing their job in carrying out the orders of the government."
"We have quite the year ahead of us," continued Captain Watson. "We need to repair damages to the Steve Irwin, we need to secure a second and faster vessel, and we need to be prepared to return to the Southern Ocean again at the end of the year to defend whales. If need be we will be in court to answer to charges of defending endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and to this we proudly plead guilty."