Activists Use Drone to Track Japanese Whaling Fleet

By Jessica Wright
Sydney Morning Herald

ANTI-WHALING activist group Sea Shepherd says it has intercepted a Japanese whaling fleet using a military-style drone.

A Sea Shepherd Conservation Society spokesman reported they caught up with the fleet at 37 degrees south, 1600 kilometres from Antarctic waters yesterday morning.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin.

Captain Paul Watson said it would be a long and arduous pursuit to reach the coast of Antarctica but by using the drone technology vast distances could be covered more quickly.

“We now have an advantage we have never had before – eyes in the sky,” he said.

”We can cover hundreds of miles with these drones and they have proven to be valuable assets for this campaign.”

The drone, named Nicole Montecalvo, was donated to Sea Shepherd’s Steve Irwin ship by Bayshore Recycling of New Jersey, and Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security, also of New Jersey.

The report comes as the opposition called on the Gillard government to seek an emergency injunction on whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on Dec 24th.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had missed the deadline to send a customs vessel to Australian-owned Antarctic waters to patrol against whaling and called on her to

”now seek an urgent interim injunction to stop the Japanese whale hunt before it is too late”.

Mr Hunt predicted there would be

”tense and bloody encounters”

between protesters and whalers in the coming weeks.

”Ms Gillard has one week to take action to halt the forthcoming slaughter and avert potential violence between whalers and protesters in the Southern Ocean,” he said.

”I wrote to the Prime Minister on December 14 urging the dispatch of a customs vessel to monitor clashes between whalers and protesters in the Southern Ocean, as well as chronicle the continued slaughter of whales on her watch.”

Mr Hunt said the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea could rule on an injunction within a month.

”Due to the urgency of the situation, it is vital that this legal action be initiated no later than December 31 in order to have any hope of being effective.”

Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty, however, since 1987, Japan has continued whaling for what it claims is scientific research into whales.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald



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