Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

28 February 2008

Completion of the Mission of the Oceanic Viking

I met today with Customs officers on the Oceanic Viking in Fremantle on the completion of their mission, to thank them for their work in collecting evidence of Japan's whaling activities.

The evidence has been collected by the Oceanic Viking for the purposes of any potential international legal action against Japan's so-called "scientific whaling" programme.

I especially thanked the Customs officers for their assistance in facilitating the transfer of two men from the Yushin Maru No. 2 to the Steve Irwin on 18 January 2008.

As I have previously outlined, now that the monitoring mission of the Oceanic Viking has been completed, neither protest nor whaling vessels can in any way assume that the Australian Government will be in a position to respond immediately in the event of any serious incident.

All parties should also understand that, now that the monitoring mission of the Oceanic Viking has been completed, it may not be possible for the Australian Government to intervene, in the event of another boarding incident, to facilitate the transfer of people from one vessel to another on the high seas.

Crew members of ships in the Southern Ocean should not attempt to board other vessels. All parties should understand that to do so may well be contrary to the law of the flag state of any such vessel.

For this reason, the Australian Government once again calls on all parties in the Southern Ocean - including all protest and whaling vessels, and their respective crews - to exercise the utmost restraint.

The Australian Government strongly discourages activity which could be illegal or unsafe activity which could lead to injury or loss of life at sea.

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