It was reported, initially by Fairfax outlets last week, that aeroplanes were sent out from Albany and Hobart by the Institute of Cetacean Research (Japanese whalers), to spy on the Sea Shepherd's fleet. This story came out on the morning of January 6th and was swiftly eclipsed by the ramming of Sea Shepher's Ady Gil by the Japanese whaler Shonan Maru 2.
Here is the footage of the collision, as filmed by crew of the Shonan Maru 2 and here is footage filmed by Sea Shepherd crew aboard the Bob Barker.
It's pretty dramatic stuff, but unfortunately the ramming took absolute precedence over the spy planes issue in the media, and the story died. One of the few people who kept talking about the spy planes was Greens Senator Bob Brown. He noted that, seeing as Australian ports were closed to Japanese whaling activity, why are our airports and planes readily available (for 'truckloads of cash') to them?
The spy planes story was buried completely the next day when aviation writer Geoffrey Thomas speculated to the ABC that the Harry Riggs Airport in Albany could not possibly have housed planes suitable of Antarctic flights, and that such Antarctic planes would have been noticed anyway.
They were noticed actually. The editor of the Weekender, the only local newspaper to cover the spy planes story, talked to pilots who told him that the planes had come from Perth but were seen refuelling at the Albany airport. He could not find out which Perth charter company had hired the planes to the Institute for Cetacean Research but was adamant, after phoning around the local Albany charter companies, that the planes came from Perth.
The public relations company who takes care of business for the whalers, and orchestrated the hiring of planes from Perth, Hobart and Melbourne, is New Zealand's Omeka Public Relations. The director Glenn Inwood is known as Ginza Glenn to the Japanese and as ' a Maori voice for a Japanese cause' in New Zealand. Inwood rides on the back of his Maori ancestry in more ways than one; he claims it as his indigenous right to hunt whales and lists his company with other Maori interests such as maraes and fisheries. Obviously, championing the right for Japanese to continue their traditional, timeless hunting technique of sending fleets of diesel powered gunboats to Antarctica, to shoot whales with explosive-tipped harpoons, is a personal passion for Omeka P.R.
Glenn Inwood also works for Te Ohu Kaimaona, the sole voting shareholder in Aotearoa Fisheries. These guys own half of Sealords. Guess who owns the other half of Sealords? Nissui, a Japanese whaling company. One of Nissui's ships, the Nisshin Maru was accused by GreenPeace in 2006 of deliberately ramming their protest vessel, Arctic Sunrise.
Omeka Public Relations' web page was up and accessible (albeit with no links) until yesterday. The site has since been taken down.