Sea Shepherd Under Fire from Aussies and Japanese
The Sea Shepherd conservation group is not having a good week. On the coattails of their drone donations, the whaling activists have taken two huge hits with the Australian government reprimanding the drone usage for lacking to undergo environmental clearance, and the retreat of their damaged Brigitte Bardot vessel. All the while, tensions between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers, both in the Southern Ocean, rise to a boil.
As MarEx reported last week, Sea Shepherd was donated two aerial drones that allowed their ships to locate Japanese whalers much more quickly, and gave them a significant edge to preventing the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean. While the drones helped to locate the Japanese ships, officials of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) have struck down on the group, citing that the drones never underwent an environmental impact assessment (EIA) that is necessary for all activity in waters protected by the Antarctic Treaty.
The Australian federal government requires all vessels going to the far south from an AU port to submit EIAs, and attain approval under the stipulations laid out in the Antarctic Treaty. Sea Shepherd had completed EIAs before departing from Fremantle and Hobart last month, but the drones were not included, according to an AAD official. The official told the conservation group that if they plan to use the drones in the Treaty waters, then it must undergo the same environmental assessment as the rest of their season’s activities have been.
Sea Shepherd wasn’t pleased to hear the news. Leader Capt. Watson was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying, "I find it interesting that they can tell us we can't use drones in the Southern Ocean but Japan can kill whales in the same waters.”
PHOTO: Map of Southern Ocean
The news from Australia—one of the biggest opponents to Japanese whaling— to the conversation group surfaced just as one of their vessels, Brigitte Bardot, had to be evacuated from the whaling squabble with Japanese ship, Shonan Maru No. 2, along with its crew after the ship lost a pontoon in rough seas.
The Shonan Maru No. 2 was shadowing the Sea Shepherd ships in the Southern Ocean when a rogue wave critically damaged the Bardot and forced the Steve Irwin ship to escort it back to the Aussie port of Fremantle. The shadowing ships were also pushing the boundaries of international law, and might force the country to deploy vessels to oversee and interdict the worsening conflict between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers.
Sea Shepherd remains committed and resilient, however, in response to the problems. The evacuated crew from the Bardot will join Steve Irwin’s crew and continue to battle for injustice with the Japanese whalers as soon as they return to the Southern Ocean.