Sea Shep­herd sails into con­tro­versy

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

SEA Shep­herd capt ai n Paul Wat­son says he is 75 per cent sure Ja­pan will not start an­other whale hunt as his own ves­sels be­came the fo­cus of an Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The anti-whal­ing group’s two main ships, the Bob Barker and the Steve Ir­win, ar­rived in Ho­bart yes­ter­day morn­ing af­ter an Antarc­tic cam­paign which saw the Ja­panese with­draw early, cit­ing ha­rass­ment from the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists.

For the third year run­ning, AFP of­fi­cers searched the anti-whal­ing ves­sels and pro­hib­ited mem­bers of the pub­lic from en­ter­ing the nearby docks for about two and a half hours. An AFP spokes­woman con­firmed the Sea Shep­herd’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the South­ern Ocean would be in­ves­ti­gated.

‘‘ The AFP is un­der­tak­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions in to the events which oc­curred in the South­ern Ocean dur­ing Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2011, in ac­cor­dance with Aus­tralian leg­is­la­tion and con­sis­tent with Aus­tralia’s obli­ga­tions un­der in­ter­nati onal l aw,’’ t he spokes­woman said.

’’( On Sun­day) the AFP did ex­e­cute search war­rants on the Sea Shep­herd Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety ves­sels in Ho­bart.’’ Once t he Sea Shep­herd crew were per- mit­ted to dis­em­bark, a tri­umphant Mr Wat­son said he was con­fi­dent his or­gan­i­sa­tion was win­ning its fight. ‘‘ Ev­ery year we’ve been go­ing down stronger and they’ve been go­ing down weaker,’’ he said.

‘‘ This year they re­alised they can’t out­run us ... they just de­cided to call it quits. I’m 75 per cent sure they won’t be back next year but, if they are, we’ll be pre­pared to come back.’’

Photo: KOCHANOWSKI RAOUL

CON­FI­DENCE: The anti-whal­ing ships the Bob Barker and Steve Ir­win berthed in Ho­bart yes­ter­day. Crew mem­bers Howie Cooke, Deb­o­rah Bas­sett, Cap­tain Paul Wat­son and Izumi Stephens

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