Vague promise from Minister leaves Sea Shepherd anxious

A VAGUE promise from Environment Minister Greg Hunt is leaving anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd nervous about whether the Federal Government will send a vessel to head-off Japanese ships bound for the Antarctic.

The Sea Shepherd team are planning to dispatch three ships this weekend - two from Victoria and one from Tasmania - after learning the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru left its port on Saturday for the southern ocean.

The Australian Government is currently waiting for a ruling in its fight against Japan in the International Court of Justice.

The IFJ has been "deliberating" since July 17 on whether Japan was breaching international law by hunting in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Sea Shepherd reportedly contacted Mr Hunt's office to inform the minister about the whalers.

Mr Hunt has previously vowed a Commonwealth vessel would be sent if crews attempted to poach whales in the sanctuary.

On Sunday, his office said there was no change to its "commitment on monitoring".

"We still hope for a positive outcome from the International Court of Justice when it hands its decision down," he said.

When pressed on whether monitoring would include the dispatching of a boat to patrol the waters, a spokesman declined to elaborate.

A spokesman for Sea Shepherd said if the government did not send a patrol boat, it would be "another broken promise by the government".

Of the 100 crew that will man the three Sea Shepherd ships, 37 are Australian and the remainder are from 23 countries including Japan.

.Sea Shepherd global executive officer Alex Cornelissen said the Japanese whaling fleet were showing disregard for the international community.

He said the fleet intended to kill more than 1000 whales.

In the summer months of 2012, the Sea Shepherd ships shifted strategies away from throwing "stinky butter" at the whalers, and began to focus on physically blocking them with its ships and inflatable boats.



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