Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.
-- D.H. Lawrence, "Whales Weep Not"
The hot blood of the great whales may soon flow freely into the cold frigid waters of the Southern Oceans as harpoon cannons roar and the long flensing knives reduce the world's largest intelligent beings into slabs of toxin-laden meat and fat to be served in sushi bars on beds of rice, force-fed to children in schools, and marketed to the public in fast food restaurants.
The fate of the world's whales may be fatally decided this week as the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meets in St. Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean beginning June 16. Delegates from Cambodia, the Pacific islands of Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Palau, the West African nations of Senegal and the Ivory Coast, will be soaking up the sun and sipping tropical drinks on the expense account of the Japanese whaling delegation.
For these delegates, all expenses are paid by Japan, including the membership fees to the International Whaling Commission. All that Japan requires of these nations that they have recruited is their vote to resume commercial whaling.
Japan has succeeded in bribing enough nations to take control of the 70-member international whaling regulatory body. They don't yet have the two-thirds majority required to overturn the global commercial moratorium on whaling established in 1986, but they will have the votes to give some legitimacy to their desire to increase the number of whales they intend to slaughter in the world's oceans.
The nations that make up the majority are small, but they each have a vote equal to the larger and more populous nations. Thus, tiny Tuvalu with a population of only 8,000 negates the conservation vote of the United States with 300 million people.
In 2001, the IWC adopted a resolution calling for "complete independence of sovereign countries to decide their own policies and freely participate in the IWC without undue interference or coercion from other sovereign countries."
For Japan, a nation that has for years flagrantly disdained the rules governing whaling, this is just another resolution to be ignored as they influence the direction of the IWC to go where they wish to take it.
Last year there were 66 members of the IWC. This year there are 70 members. Each year Japan recruits additional members in exchange for foreign aid packages thereby weakening the conservation efforts of
nations that seek to protect the whales from commercial slaughter.
If Japanese whalers cannot be stopped from pirating the world's whales, there is a real and present danger that the whales and humanity may suffer the loss of these magnificent minds in the water - these largest of living Earthlings.
For over three decades I have fought illegal whaling on the high seas. These have been dangerous and difficult campaigns in which we have placed ourselves between the harpoons and the whales and directly intervened against powerful ships in hostile whalers that have shot at us, rammed us, and threatened our lives. We also have been aggressive in our defense of the whales, all the while exercising the greatest caution to not injure the killers of the whales while we have attempted to rescue their victims.
If Japan succeeds in compromising the IWC, there will be an escalation of confrontations at sea with the inevitable result that whale defenders may fall victim to the deadly harpoons they are trying to stop.
But we have no other choice. If the world's governments cannot overcome Japan and Norway's deceptive and hostile attempt to take over the IWC, the battles will escalate on the high seas and conservationists will be forced to risk their lives more than ever in the quest to save Leviathan from the ruthless extermination at the hands of humans intent upon their exploitation and destruction.
The slaughter of the great whales has no place in the 21st Century. It must be ended.