The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Monitoring of Southern Ocean begins
13 January 2014
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The Australian Government has completed the first flight in its monitoring of whaling and protest fleets in the Southern Ocean.
On Sunday 12 January the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service deployed an A319 aircraft to undertake the first monitoring flight of the whaling season.
The flight left Melbourne early on Sunday morning, and returned later in the afternoon.
The flight observed Sea Shepherd's vessel the Bob Barker and the Japanese whaling vessel the Yushin Maru No.3. The two vessels were separated by approximately 200 nautical miles.
No whaling activities or infringements on safety at sea were observed during the monitoring mission.
This is the first monitoring mission to be undertaken during the Southern Ocean whaling season in six years, and only the second ever.
The use of aircraft has been determined as the most effective means of monitoring activities in this remote and extensive area, and allows us to monitor multiple ships in a diversely spread fleet.
In addition, Australia has informed Japanese authorities that our clear position is that vessels associated with the Japanese whaling fleet should not conduct operations in Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone or territorial sea.
The Government is in regular contact with Japanese officials with respect to all relevant aspects of Japan's whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.
Australia's views on whaling are well known – we strongly oppose all commercial whaling, including Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling.
Australia has argued its case in the International Court of Justice and we are now awaiting the ruling of the Court.
Monitoring in the Southern Ocean will continue during the whaling season, which is expected to end in March 2014.
It is important that Australia has a presence in the Southern Ocean during the whaling season and to remind all parties that it is important to abide by their safety at sea obligations.
While we respect the right to peaceful protest, Australia will not condone any dangerous, reckless or unlawful behaviour. It is the responsibility of the masters of all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean during the 2013-14 whaling season to ensure that the safety of human life at sea is not endangered. The Southern Ocean can be a treacherous, remote and unforgiving environment, where search and rescue capability is extremely limited.