It seems the Australian government has been keeping a few secrets; video evidence of Japanese whalers illegally hunting in an Australian whale sanctuary, filmed way back in 2008, has finally been released. The government claims it kept the video secret in order to preserve its relationship with Japan.
“Back in 2008 the Australian government sent a custom vessel down to document Japan’s whaling in Australia’s Antarctic territory,” said the Sea Shepherd’s director Jeff Hansen.
“This was taken in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary and yet they are being chased by harpoon ships. These whales are swimming away in an attempt to outrun them. But eventually they have to come up – exhausted,” Hansen added. “They are hit with an explosive harpoon that sends shrapnel through their bodies, while prongs come out so that the whale cannot escape.” He claims that despite the age of the video, the illegal whaling in the sanctuary continues till today.
Australian Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg asserted that despite hiding the video footage for over a decade in order to keep the peace with Japan, the Australian government was “deeply disappointed that Japan has decided to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling as it is not necessary to kill whales in order to study them… The government will continue to advocate for Japan to comply with its international obligations and the principles set out in the International Court of Justice’s judgment”.
The legal battle to have over three hours of footage released began five years ago, with the New South Wales Environmental Defender’s Office lodging a Freedom of Information application for Humane Society International, with the Sea Shepard joining them at a later stage.
“Initially we were told that we were refused the footage because there was a pending court case,” Hansen said. “Then once that court case had been settled, and Japan’s whaling was found to be illegal, then the reason came out was diplomatic relations. In other words, they didn’t want to upset Japan. However, the Information Commissioner ruled that the Australian public had every right to see the footage.”
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson noted the general public in Japan was completely unaware of the brutality of whaling; the videos would provide a graphic wake-up call that would have the Japanese people renounce whale meat.
“I spent time in Japan recently, meeting with politicians and activists, and what is clear to me is that the Japanese public at large are oblivious to these activities,” he said. “Malcolm Turnbull needs to get a copy of this tape, stick it in a diplomatic bag and send it to the Prime Minister of Japan.”
It should be noted that documentaries exposing the cruelties of the factory-farming meat and diary industry are freely available online but are yet to lead to mass renouncement of other forms of mammalian meats.