Australian Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, has paid tribute to Sea Shepherd’s flagship the MY Steve Irwin, following its retirement, announced today after a decade of defending the oceans.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “I am sure I speak for the vast majority of Australians when I say thank you to Sea Shepherd and the Steve Irwin for defending our oceans and the animals that live in it.

‘The campaigns that have been run in the Southern Ocean against illegal whaling are perhaps the most personal to me, being an ocean-loving Tasmanian and having regular contact with the MY Steve Irwin when it visited our shores.

“Let’s not forget the MY Steve Irwin has conducted multiple campaigns in defence of the world’s oceans and habitats, from protecting pilot whales in the Faeroes, blue fin tuna in the Mediterranean, humpback whales off the Kimberley coast, to safeguarding one of the last large intact marine ecosystems on the planet in the Great Australian Bight.

“Most recently the Steve Irwin has also been in the Great Barrier Reef in opposition to the Adani coal mine.

‘However nothing is more powerful than seeing footage of the Steve Irwin conducting Antarctic whale defence campaigns in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary – helping save over 6,000 whales from the illegal Japanese whaling fleet.

“This is a great opportunity for the Federal Government to announce that it will send a customs patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean to continue monitoring the illegal operations that Japan’s whaling fleet are planning this summer.

“I know that the wonderful crew and supporters at Sea Shepherd will continue their great work in our oceans, and I call on all Australians to continue supporting the organisation in every way they can.

“I also call on Environment Minister Melissa Price to officially recognise the service of the MY Steve Irwin, and to thank Sea Shepherd for the work they have done protecting the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”