One of the Directors of Sea Shepherd Australia, Bob Brown conducted an interview Wednesday afternoon in which he called for the Australian Government to intercede directly with Tokyo over the Nisshin Maru ramming of 4 ships in the Southern Ocean and also called for an Australian naval presence to uphold international law in Antarctic waters. Bob Brown is a former leader of the Australian Greens and a former Tasmanian Senator.
Three Sea Shepherd Australia ships were rammed by the Nisshin Maru today causing damage. The Nisshin Maru also rammmed the South Korean tanker, the Sun Laurel, damaging two life boats - a dangerous situation for a ship in Antarctic waters with icebergs and ice flows.
The interview was recorded by ABC News, but with my transcription from the video.
Journalist: Bob Brown, what is happenning in Antarctic waters?
Bob Brown: It has been the most ourtrageous attack on the Sea Shepherd Australia ships today. Multiple ramming of those ships by the giant factory whaling ship from Japan, the Nisshin Maru. Watercannon played on the ships and concussion grenades were lobbed on the ships from the Japanese Government escort vessel. Japan through it's loudhailers ordered, this is the Japanese Government, ordered the ships out of Australian territorial waters while they wanted to proceed with their illegal refuelling of the Nisshun Maru, the factory ship, to allow them to continue their illegal whaling in international and Australian whale sanctuary.
I have informed the Government, just after 1 o'clock this afternoon that the force of the ramming of these ships has lead to the destruction of a life vessel on the South Korean tanker which was meant to refuel the factory ship.
The Sea Shepherd ships are now escorting that tanker north with the whaling fleet holding off, but it is very dangerous.
What the Japanese Government has ordered down there is multiple breaches of international law of the ocean ramming other ships, a breach to have heavy fuel oil south of the 60th parallel, it's a breach for that factory ship to be there whaling in an international sanctuary. These are Australian territorial waters. Tokyo has taken over Australia's territorial waters. It's time the Australian Government re-asserted itself.It should send naval vessels down there to reassert international law as well as domestic law.
Journalist: Is this incident the worst that we have seen in regards to the Sea Shepherd?
Bob Brown: This is the worst incident we have seen certainly since the sinking of a Sea Shepherd ship by the Japanese fleet two years ago. But it's extraordinarily dangerous, and a direct breach of international sea laws, international environmental laws, international territorial laws by the Japanese Government. It is flagrantly asserting that it is in control of those waters. These are Australian territorial waters. Canberra needs to tell Tokyo to haul off immediately and to despatch naval vessels down there to uphold international law.
Journalist: What does this mean for the rest of the whaling season from Sea Shepherd's point of view?
Bob Brown: I'm concerned. Yesterday it was watercannon from the Japanese whalers and Japanese Government ships. Today it was watercannon and ramming of the Australian ships and concussion grenades. That escort vessel from the Japanese Government is armed. I am very concerned for the courageous people aboard the Sea Shepherd Australia ships. I am very concerned and alarmed that Japan has decided to become pirates in our territorial waters. It's time the Australian Government acted.
Journalist: What responsibility does the Sea Shepherd organisation have? How far can you go?
Bob Brown: Sea Shepherd is a nonviolent protector of the whales and they have gotten between the illegal South Korean tanker's trespass into Antarctic waters and this factory ship and the result has been escalating violence under directions from Tokyo from the Japanese whaling fleet. Now it's time they were packed up and sent home by the Australian Government.
Journalist: But if there are injuries, if there are deaths from the ramming of these ships, who holds responsibility?
Bob Brown: The responsibility must go for these waters to Australia's requirement to uphold international law. But the Australian Government, and the New Zealand Government, and the U.S. Government have all opted to turn a blind eye, to turn their back, not to send, a policing operation to uphold international law. It's time they did. Otherwise it is very clear that Japan sees no law at all. As far as Japan is concerned, it's the wild west without a sherriff. It's time that the Australian Government provided that sherriff to uphold the law.
Journalist: You've spoken to the Government about this today, what response have you received so far?
Bob Brown: The Australian Government is seriously considering what moves it should make. But it has to eyeball Tokyo. It has to tell Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that this is no way for his ships to be acting in our territorial waters. It's just a flagrant illegal operation from Tokyo, who is now assuming control of Australia's Antarctic territorial waters. The Australian Government has got to respond to that.
Journalist: You've mentioned the Japanese Government directly a number of times. How do you know it is coming from the Government itself?
Bob Brown: Well the ship that lobbed concussion grenades onto Sea Shepherd today is labelled Government of Japan. The loud hailer from that ship is saying 'The Government of Japan insists that you remove yourself from these waters'. That is Australian ships being removed from Australian waters. It's time that Canberra acted.
- News on ABC, 19 February 2013 - Video interview with Sea Shepherd Australia director Bob Brown