CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Australia says it will send a surveillance plane to the Antarctic Ocean to monitor possible conflicts between Japanese whaling ships and environmentalists.
But one campaign group, for its part, said Australia should be sending ships to stop, not monitor, the annual whale catch Japan characterizes as scientific research.
Japanese whaling ships took more than 100 whales in the Antarctic Ocean last year in its annual hunt, which lasts from January to March.
The environmental group Sea Shepherd Australia, which has sent three vessels of its own to try to prevent the Japanese whale hunt, criticized Australia's decision, saying the country's current administration had gone back on a promise to send ships to stop the whaling.
"They haven't got the guts to go down there and do it," Jeff Hansen, the group's managing director, told the BBC.
The Australian government has said it believes Japan's operations in the Antarctic Ocean constitute commercial whaling and has taken its case to the United Nations' International Court of Justice, based in the Hague, Netherlands, which is expected to rule on the matter in the next few months.