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Monday, 18 June 2012
Page: 3550


(Question No. 1530)

Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 February 2012:

With reference to the answer to question no. 1277, regarding Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean:

(1) Has the Government sought more information from the Japanese Government following reports from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that the vessel Shonan Maru 2, which is clearly marked 'Government of Japan', had armed guards on board.

(2) Has the Government formally protested to the Japanese Government over the vessel's entry into the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

Senator Bob Carr: The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Japanese Government has advised that the Japanese Coastguard officers on board the Shonan Maru No.2 are non-military, civilian officers. The Japanese Government has further advised that these officers have been issued with firearms and that this is standard procedure for Japanese Coastguard operations.

(2) The Australian Government strongly objects to Japanese whaling vessels passing through Australia's territorial seas or Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Australian Whale Sanctuary comprises the waters between three nautical miles (nm) from the coastline to the outer limit of the EEZ (200nm).

The Australian Government has made repeated representations to the Japanese Government that vessels associated with Japan's whaling program, including the Shonan Maru No.2, are not welcome in Australia's EEZ or territorial seas.

While foreign vessels have a right of innocent passage in Australia's territorial seas and freedom of navigation within Australia's EEZ under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, vessels associated with Japan's whaling program are not welcome and the Australian Government has made this clear to Japan.