The early drama for this year’s “Whale Wars” appears to have been resolved.
According to The Age, an Australian newspaper, Watson’s visa to join the rest of his Sea Shepherd crew in the country was granted yesterday. The move came after some tense weeks of delay on the part of the Australian government; an action that was seen as giving in to Japanese pressure. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship, however, fought back at critics saying it was a matter of the type of visa Watson applied for that made the difference. “Though Mr Watson may have previously visited Australia as a tourist, the visa required for that type of visit is quite different to that for a short-term business visit, which is what is required for his forthcoming trip,” the department said in a statement. “This is a matter being handled by the department in a manner no different to the standard procedures in place for the processing of millions of visa applications each year.”
Nevertheless, Watson believed the delay to be more than just red tape and slammed the Australian government and their handling of the situation. “I am confident that the Australian people will send their voice to Canberra to support us and the whales. Rudd and Garrett 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.”
Well, game on. We’re not sure if 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt, who also was held up in visa limbo, has been approved — but one can assume he’s packing his bags as well.
Sea Shepherd’s “Operation Waltzing Matilda” kicks off this December.