The discovery by Sea Shepherd of the notorious pirate vessel, illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean between Heard Island and Antarctica indicates a worrying failure of international co-operation, Greens spokesperson for Fisheries Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “In December 2013 Interpol issued a Purple Notice alerting authorities that the Thunder was fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean.
“In May 2014, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) reported that the Thunder had been arrested and impounded in Malaysia for illegal fishing from the Southern Ocean.
“What has happened between May and December 2014? When was this notorious pirate vessel released by authorities?
“Fisheries Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Richard Colbeck, has previously argued that their Asian port-side compliance efforts absolved the Government of their election promise to patrol the Southern Ocean for illegal fishing.
“Just like with the monitoring of whaling activity, again the Sea Shepherd has done the Government’s job.
“The Government needs to immediately conduct an independent investigation into how the Thunder was allowed to go free to plunder the Southern Ocean again.
“Why was it let go? Was it bribery, corruption or incompetence? Do laws need to be tightened? What did Australian authorities know, when did they know it and what did they do to stop the release of the Thunder?
“This is a scandal of the highest order. The Government has some serious explaining to do.
“The Government must also immediately indicate what it is going to do now it knows the Thunder is fishing over the extended continental shelf off Australia's Territory of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands.
“When is the Government going to send its ice-rated patrol vessel ADV Ocean Shield to do the job it was purchased for, and stop a free-for-all for pirates in the Southern Ocean?
“These issues were precisely why the Greens established the Senate Inquiry into Southern Ocean management,” Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.