Sea Shepherd's Founder and President Captain Paul Watson received a phone call from Australian Minister of the Environment Senator Ian Campbell on November 30th.
The Honourable Mr. Campbell was calling Captain Watson to let him know that he supported Sea Shepherd's efforts to oppose Japanese whalers and to wish the crew of Australian and international volunteers a safe and successful voyage to the Southern Oceans.
Captain Watson replied that he appreciated the government's support and assured Senator Campbell that as in all Sea Shepherd campaigns over the last thirty years, that respect for safety and human life would be the priority for the voyage.
"I told him that we had never caused an injury in our long history of activism and that is a record we intend to keep," said Captain Watson.
Senator Campbell said that Australia would continue to speak out against Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean and especially in the Australian Antarctic Territory. He also assured Captain Watson that in the event of emergency to contact the Australian Antarctic bases for support if needed.
Captain Watson thanked Senator Campbell for his support and urged the Minister to intervene against the illegal Japanese whaling activities.
"The whales and Sea Shepherd are grateful for Australia's very outspoken opposition to whaling. We think this opposition represents the concerns and the opinions of the Australian people. All we need now is to translate the government's words into government action," said Captain Watson. "Senator Campbell and Prime Minister John Howard have the opportunity before them to demonstrate real heroism to Australians by policing the Australian Antarctic Territory and bringing these Japanese poachers to justice or at least to escort them from Australian territorial waters like they would any poacher from any other nation."
The support for Sea Shepherd in Australia has been incredible. Over 25,000 people have taken tours of the Sea Shepherd flagship Farley Mowat at the berth in Melbourne. Captain Watson spoke to large groups on the Gold Coast and in Sydney, and last week John Singleton and Bluetongue Brewery announced their financial support for the Sea Shepherd voyage and pledged $1.00 per case for every case of Bluetongue beer sold from now until June 2007.
Bluetongue also released a controversial advertisement attacking Japanese whaling and launched a special website supporting Sea Shepherd at www.whalesafebeer.com
The website lists all the Australian beer companies that are owned or partly owned by Japanese corporations. Sea Shepherd is urging Australians to drink only whale safe beer.
Since escaping from the pro-whaling authorities in Cape Town, South Africa, the Sea Shepherd crew has enjoyed the support of Australians in both the ports of Fremantle and Melbourne.
Upon arriving in Western Australia in July, the Honorable Jim McGinty, Attorney-General of Western Australia, living up to his reputation as a politician not afraid to take a stand, toasted the crew of the Farley Mowat and wished them the best in their mission to shut down the Japanese whaling fleet. The Honorable Mr. McGinty was quoted in the Western Australian as saying that "he 'absolutely' supported Sea Shepherd and anyone who criticized them was 'frankly being a bit too soft'" in response to Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell's earlier unsubstantiated accusations of "endangering lives" in the Antarctic.
Greg Nannup from one of the First Nations of the Western Coast, the Noongah, honored the crew of the Farley Mowat with a "Welcome to the Homeland" ceremony. The whales are a foundation of Aboriginal legend, manifest in the Story of Creation. According to the Noongah, whales carry human spirits stranded at sea at the dawn of creation during the rise of the Continent.
Peter Tagliaferri, the Mayor of Fremantle in Western Australia, presented the Farley Mowat with the crest of the City and a flag of Fremantle with a request that we fly the flag in the Southern Oceans during the upcoming pursuit and intervention against Japanese whaling activities.
The Sea Shepherd ship code-named Leviathan is presently enroute to the Southern Oceans. The Farley Mowat will be departing within a few days to rendezvous with our 2nd faster ship in the area where the Japanese are planning to slaughter whales.