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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sea Shepherd Applauds the Labour and Green Parties of Oz

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society applauds the initiative of the Australian Labour Party in calling for naval interception of illegal Japanese whaling operations in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

According to Kevin Rudd, the leader of the Labour Party, gunboats will be sent out to protect whales in Southern Ocean Sanctuary. The navy would be deployed to enforce laws banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

"This is rare chance to save the endangered humpbacks and fin whales and the threatened piked (Minke) whales with a vote," said Sea Shepherd's Founder and President Captain Paul Watson. "Australians now have a clear choice to stop the horrific slaughter of the whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary."

Current Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull in condemning the Labour initiative has demonstrated that the Howard Government has and will continue to discriminate favorably towards the rogue whaling nation of Japan.

"Australia has absolutely no problem in stopping outlaw fishing activities in the Australian Antarctic Territory citing the fact that these are sovereign Australian waters, yet they say they can and will do nothing about Japanese whaling in these very same waters with the excuse that these waters are international," said Captain Watson. "It appears that the Australian territorial claim to these waters is one of convenience. In other words, the waters are Australian when it suits the Howard Government to stop illegal fishing, but the same waters are not Australian when the Japanese whale killers move into the territory."

Sea Shepherd has been urging Australia to uphold the law in the Australian Antarctic territorial waters for years. Finally, the Labour Party and the Green Party are expressing the will of the people of Australia in calling for some real action against illegal Japanese whaling.

Mr. Turnbull has made it clear that Australia is subservient to the Japanese under the Howard government and that Japan has pushed the envelope to an unacceptable level by targeting endangered humpback and fin whales.

He also said that the proposal by Labour could damage relations with Japan - an important trade and strategic ally. "As far as Japan is concerned, they are international waters and they are entitled to freedom of navigation on the high seas," Mr Turnbull said.

"It is an extraordinary recommendation to make and the question that Mr. Rudd doesn't answer is: What does he think Japan will do?

"Japan would immediately protest, if we persist they go to an international court, the international court will find those are international waters."

Alternatively Japan could send its own naval vessels to protect its ships, Mr Turnbull said. "This is the most reckless proposal and, of course, completely counterproductive in terms of protecting the whales," he continued. "Labor's suggestions are dangerous and counterproductive and clearly not thought through. It would do untold damage to the relations with a very important ally, trading partner, investor."

Yet, Mr. Turnbull does not explain why the Uruguayan fishing boats that Australia has arrested and seized in these waters can't claim that the waters are international.

In asking what Japan will think, Mr. Turnbull has demonstrated that he is more concerned with the opinions of a nation illegally killing whales than he is with the desire of the Australian people (who he represents) to protect the whales.

In supporting the Labour initiative, the Australian Greens stated, "We back action against Japan in the international courts and we back naval patrols to interrupt illegal whaling activity and to film and document the slaughter so the world can see what shameful, bloody business whaling is," Greens leader Bob Brown said. "The Howard government is more interested in a free trade agreement [with Japan] than telling Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe to keep his harpoons at home."

Last December, Captain Watson spoke with Green Party leader Bob Brown and was impressed with Mr. Brown's desire to take action on saving whales.

Sea Shepherd is hopeful that when our ship returns to the remote southern waters in November that Australia will see fit to exercise some real authority against this nasty bloody slaughter that the Japanese whalers inflict upon whales in Australian sovereign territory.

"It's time to toss out the politicians who are more concerned with kissing the feet of Japanese politicians than they are for the concerns of the Australian people," said Sea Shepherd Australian Director Laura Dakin from onboard the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat, presently heading to the North Atlantic to intervene against illegal Icelandic whaling operations.