Sea Shepherd offers to police Coral Sea

Anti-whaling crusaders Sea Shepherd have offered to help the Australian government police a proposed marine park in the Coral Sea against illegal fishing.

In a statement, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society made the offer, after former federal Liberal MP Peter Lindsay said it would not be possible to properly police the proposed park.

Sea Shepherd says it will provide vessels and welcome representatives of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority aboard their ships.

“The organisation would work alongside the appropriate Australian authorities to design strategies, implement appropriate programs and facilitate prosecution of illegal fishing activities,” Sea Shepherd said.

The proposed marine park in the Coral Sea covers an area more than half the size of Queensland and includes critical nesting sites for the green turtle.

In response to the Sea Shepherd announcement federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said surveillance of marine parks was usually done by direct government action.

He also said it would be a while until surveillance decisions were made.

“Dive, recreational fishing, commercial fishing and environmental sectors have all offered to help with surveillance in different ways,” Mr Burke said.

“Enforcement becomes a decision for the director of national parks and that doesn’t happen until after these areas have been fully proclaimed and management plans are in place,” he said.

In the past, Sea Shepherd activists have made headlines because of clashes with Japanese whaling vessels in Antarctic waters.

Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson is in Germany awaiting extradition to Costa Rica to faces charges related to an alleged collision with a shark fishing boat 10 years ago.

Source: AAP