"Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only, Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee and thou with me, For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we risk the ship, ourselves and all"
- Walt Whitman
Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is officially requesting an arrest warrant from the Australian government to serve to the Japanese whaling fleet.
"The Japanese whalers are illegally killing whales in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory," said Captain Watson. "This area is clearly marked on the nautical charts as the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone and the Japanese fleet is in violation of an Australian court order specifically prohibiting them from killing whales in Australian waters. We are ready to serve this warrant on behalf of the Australian government and I have Australian crew-members on my crew quite willing to deliver the warrant to the captains of these Japanese ships engaged in whale poaching operations. We are prepared to make a citizen's arrest to uphold Australian law prohibiting whaling in these waters."
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship Steve Irwin departed from Melbourne on February 14th bound for the coast of Antarctica. The ship is expected to arrive in the area of whaling operations by February 22nd.
If as expected, Australia refuses to supply an arrest warrant to Sea Shepherd, Captain Watson will intervene against the Japanese fleet in accordance with the United Nations World Charter for Nature that allows for non-governmental organizations to uphold international conservation law.
"We need to create another international incident," said Captain Paul Watson. "We need to keep the pressure on to stop Japan's illegal poaching of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Lack of enforcement by Australia and other nations is forcing Sea Shepherd to implement risky measures to stop the deadly harpoons. I cannot stomach this slaughter of these gentle giants any longer - if it means pushing the envelope, we are ready and willing to take the risks."
Captain Watson has questions for Environment Minister Peter Garrett.
"What will it take to get Australia to enforce the law against Japan? What will it take to have Japan and Uruguay treated equally under the law? Why is Uruguayan poaching of toothfish not tolerated by Australia but Japanese whaling is? Why the double standard? When will the deaths of these whales be taken seriously?"
And two final questions. "Does someone have to die or be seriously injured down here in these remote waters before Australia takes enforcement of the law seriously? What is Australia prepared to do if the Japanese whalers kill one of my crew or myself?"
"We are not coming down here to hang banners or take pictures," said Captain Watson. "We are not a bunch of semi-serious ocean posers. We are heading back to the whaling fleet with a purpose and that purpose is to do whatever we can and take whatever risks we must, to shut down Japanese poaching operations and to save the lives of the whales."
The Steve Irwin has a crew of 33 volunteers from nine different nations. The crew are well aware of the risky nature of the voyage and prepared to risk their lives to stop the killing.
"If saving the life of a defenseless whale means I must put my own life on the line, then that is a risk I am prepared to take," said Amber Paarman, 24, from South Africa.