Canberra under fire for inaction on whale hunt

Reuters, SYDNEY

Tue, Jan 07, 2014 - Page 6

Anti-whaling activists yesterday said that they have captured images of Japanese ships killing protected whales inside an internationally recognized whale sanctuary, sparking criticism of the Australian government’s handling of the issue.

The aerial footage released by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society appeared to show the bloodied remains of three minke whales on board Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru as it sailed in the Southern Ocean. The group said it had information that a fourth whale had also been killed.

The images have raised pressure on Australian Minister of the Environment Greg Hunt, who has backed away from a promise made during Australia’s election campaign last year to send a ship to monitor Japanese whaling in the area. His plan to instead send an aircraft staffed by customs officials to randomly swoop over the area has been dismissed by activists as ineffectual.

Sea Shepherd Australia chairman Bob Brown called on the conservative Liberal Party-led government to honor its pledge to step up monitoring of the Japanese fleet.

“We’ve got a federal court ruling that this whaling is illegal and injunction to stop it,” he said. “I don’t know of any other entity or person in Australia who could simply thumb its nose at the Australian Federal Court with an Australian government saying: ‘We won’t police it.’”