Japan had requested a port closure from Australia that would ban Sea Shepherd from their ports, claiming that the anti-whaling group should be treated like pirates due to their aggressive tactics.
“The Steve Irwin will be permitted to dock at an Australian port,” said Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard. “There is insufficient reason to prevent the Steve Irwin from doing that.”
Japan has recently accused Sea Shepherd of ramming one of their ships, and later interfering with the search for a lost crew member. They had previously refused Sea Shepherd’s help in that search.
Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson reportedly made the decision to dock in Tasmania as a test of the Australian government’s opinion on their activities. A message posted on the Sea Shepherd website this weekend said that “Although the ship is as close to Puntarenas, Chile as it is to Hobart, Tasmania and even closer to Dunedin, New Zealand, Capt. Paul Watson has decided that the ship will return to Australia.”
“We’re not concerned,” Watson said. “We’ve got a lot of Australians on our crew. There’s no way they could ban us.”
However, Japan has successfully had Sea Shepherd banned from other countries in the past, and convinced both Belize and the United Kingdom to revoke the ships’ registration since 2005. The ships are now registered in Holland.Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd