Anti-whaling activists are stepping up pressure on the Federal Government to send an Australian customs vessel to the Southern Ocean this summer.
The Sea Shepherd organisation says it has had word the whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru, is preparing to depart Japan any day.
This year a crew of 100 people from over 20 countries will be on board Sea Shepherd’s three vessels.
The Sea Shepherd fleet is in the final stages of preparation for the voyage, but has not yet heard whether a Customs vessel will be following it south.
Before the federal election the Coalition indicated it would want to send a Customs vessel to observe the whaling hunt and put pressure on Japan.
The previous Labor Government resisted calls from Sea Shepherd to patrol the Southern Ocean.
But last week a spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Government remained committed to “monitoring and observing” the Japanese fleet.
Sea Shepherd’s chairman, former Greens leader Bob Brown, says the Federal Government need to honour its commitment.
“The Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt promised in May this year in the run to the election that if the Japanese whaling ships went south there’d be Customs vessels from Australia going south,” he said.
“So we need to hear from the Prime Minister that that promise to the Australian people will be kept.”
Sea Shepherd’s global head Alex Cornelissen says they are prepared for a rough ride.
“Every year we’ve seen more and more aggression from the Japanese side so I definitely think our crews are going to be facing some pretty serious situations,” he said.
Sea Shepherd’s Australian director Jeff Hansen says there were significant clashes last summer.
“They almost sunk the Bob Barker,” he said.
Sea Shepherd says the group saved about 930 whales last season, which was their most successful yet.
The activist group’s fleet is expecting to depart in just over a week.