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Whaling fleet leaves Japan for the hunt - so where is the promised Australian Customs vessel?

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 8 Dec 2013

This morning, as reports come in that the Japanese whaling fleet has left for the summer hunt, Australian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has called on Tony Abbott to honor his government's election commitment to send an Australian Customs vessel to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

"Australia's purpose built Southern Ocean patrol vessel, the ACV Ocean Protector, has been cruising off the coast of Christmas Island thousands of nautical miles from the whale sanctuary," said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

"Why is the ice-rated ACV Ocean Protector being used as an expensive tropical water-taxi for Minister Morrison's 'Operation Sovereign Borders' when Minister Hunt has promised a vessel would monitor the whaling fleet in the Antarctic?

"The Australian Greens are very concerned the Abbott Government is going to break another election promise as, under scrutiny in Senate question time last week, the Government backed away from its commitment to send a customs vessel to the whale sanctuary.

"It is clear there are divisions between ministers in Abbott's cabinet on delivering this election promise.

"The clock has been ticking for our whales in the Southern Ocean and, now that the Japanese poachers are reportedly heading south, time is up.

"Tony Abbott must step in and uphold his government's commitment to immediately send an Australian Customs vessel to monitor illegal whaling activities and protect our 'sovereign waters'.

"The Abbott Government knows the cruel slaughter of whales by the Japanese whaling fleet is something Australians feel very strongly about and that is why Minister Hunt went to the last election with a clear commitment to send a customs vessel to monitor the illegal slaughter in the whale sanctuary.

"Words alone are not good enough - action from the Australian Government is needed to deter the Japanese from butchering whales in Australian territorial waters as happened last year.

"We also need to send a strong signal to the Japanese poachers that any aggressive and intimidating behaviour against the brave Sea Shepherd crew will be closely monitored by the Australian government," Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.

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