Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd has responded to the Australian government's announcement this week that they will be sending a plane in lieu of a ship to monitor Japanese whaling, calling the decision a "cowardly" response and denouncing the whole affair as a "sham." Says AFP:
Sea Shepherd criticized the move, with Australian chairman Bob Brown describing it as a "pretty, cowardly" backdown by the conservative government in a bid to appease Japan due to ongoing free trade negotiations. "They'll fly over and look from a great height. What are they going to do if something's going wrong down there? Where are they going to send a vessel from? Because those planes are not going to be able to intervene," Brown told reporters. "It's a sham operation, this plane."
Brown's response comes just after Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who had first promised to send a government ship to track Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, announced that an Airbus A319 plane would be used instead, citing "operational reasons." Many environmentalists called for Hunt's resignation after the news broke.
Although whaling has been banned under the International Whaling Commission since 1986, Japan is still able to hunt whales under the pretense of scientific research.