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Fuel spill in Antarctic waters hastens need for Government intervention

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 18 Feb 2013

The Australian Greens say the Government must immediately act on further proof that heavy fuel oil has been brought into Australia's EEZ and investigate reports of a leakage from the Korean flagged ship Sun Laurel into pristine Antarctic waters.

"The Sun Laurel is currently in the Australian Antarctic EEZ refuelling whaling ships from the Japanese fleet, blatantly breaching international rules and Australia's clear position that they should leave our waters," Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, spokesperson on marine issues said today.

"If the boat is carrying Heavy Fuel Oil, then this action is already illegal under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

"The Sea Shepherd vessel Sam Simon has reported smelling diesel fumes and seeing fuel slicks in the wake of the Sun Laurel. They also allege that the fleet failed to advise the Australian Maritime Safety Authority of the potential spill.

"This spill, and the subsequent failure to notify the authorities would represent two further breaches of MARPOL.

"These laws are in place to prevent oil and fuel from being discharged into Antarctic waters - widely acknowledged as an important and pristine sanctuary.

"This is a crystal clear reason as to why the Federal Government should have a monitoring vessel in the region to collect evidence of contraventions of important maritime laws and to record the brutality with which the Japanese fleet hunts and kills whales in Australia's territory.

"It is imperative that the Australian Government acts on this new evidence. Sea Shepherd are doing the work of the Australian Government and the international community by holding the whalers and their support vessels to account. This should be a job for Government, not the NGO sector," Senator Siewert concluded.

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