Late last week the Sea Sheherd Conservation Society’s Captain Paul Watson and first officer Peter Hammarstedt’s visa applications hit a bureaucratic red tape goldmine in Australia.
Previously, Watson was allowed to travel freely into Australia with a US passport and tourist visa. However, it would appear that now Australia is suddenly requiring proof of “good character” in order to renew his visa, which he attributes to intervention from the Japanese government.
“I do not have a single felony conviction on my record from any nation in the world. There is not a single warrant out for my arrest. Japan has not pressed charges. Our flag nation of the Netherlands has not charged us with anything. I have entered and reentered Australia dozens of times without incident, but now only a few weeks after Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was given an ultimatum by Japan to stop Sea Shepherd, Peter Hammarstedt and I have found that our return to our own ship has been blocked without any reason given,” said Watson.
Japan has been hard at work putting pressure on not only Australia, but the Netherlands, US and Canada to stop Sea Shepherd’s efforts to protect whales, while they continue with the slaughter that they claim is for “research purposes”, which would appear to be nothing more than a loophole that allows them to continue with commercial whaling.
“Rudd and Garrett (Peter Garrett, Environment Minister) need to be reminded that it was not the Japanese whalers who voted them into power, it was Australian citizens, and Australians want the bloody slaughter in the Southern Ocean ended,” said Watson.
Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin, is now docked in Sydney while the crew prepares to leave for the Southern Ocean in December.