Australia Stops Sea Shepherd From Using Drones
January 3, 2012

Australia Stops Sea Shepherd From Using Drones

The Australian government has stopped the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd from using unmanned drones over the Antarctic.

The Australian Antarctic Division told the group the drones must have an urgent environmental impact assessment if they are to be used in Antarctic Treaty waters.

The drones were used by the group in December to find the factory ship Nisshin Maru before it made it into Antarctic waters.

The Australian government requires anyone going to the far south from an Australian port of fill out an environmental assessment under the strict environment protection rules of the Antarctic Treaty.

"I find it interesting that they can tell us we can't use drones in the Southern Ocean, but Japan can kill whales in the same waters," Sea Shepherd's leader, Paul Watson, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I think Tokyo has made another complaint to Australia."

Sea Shepherd said it was able to track down and photograph hunters participating in Japan's annual Antarctic whale hunt by using an aerial drone.

The group said it was able to locate the Japanese ship Nisshin Maru off the western coast of Australia with the unmanned aircraft.  The drones are equipped with hi-tech cameras and detection equipment.

The group completed an environmental assessment before leaving an Australian port last month, but an Australian Antarctic Division manager said the drones were not included in the report.


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