We Need to Focus on the Real Violence in the Whale Sanctuary
Commentary by Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Senator Ian Campbell, Australia's Minister of the Environment, is concerned about the effect of water cannons on protesters. He is urging the Japanese to refrain from using water cannons against anti-whaling activists.
With all due respect to Senator Campbell, this is a distraction. The water cannons are easily avoided. We have never been hit with them for the simple reason that we have not placed ourselves in the path of them. Greenpeace activists deliberately place themselves in the path of the water cannons for dramatic effect. It makes for good television footage, but it is a distraction.
We are not the victims down here and Greenpeace should not be trying to make themselves the victims.
The victims are the whales. Getting wet is hardly comparable to having a grenade-tipped harpoon rip apart your internal organs. Nor is it comparable to being slowly electrocuted with electric lances.
Senator Ian Campbell is concerned about violence against humans down in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary but the violence is not against humans, it is against the whales. A thousand intelligent, sentient, socially complex, and endangered animals are being slaughtered utilizing exceptionally cruel methods. This is the violence we are opposing.
What we are doing is dangerous. We know it's dangerous and we have volunteered to put ourselves in harm's way to oppose the horrific violence of these Japanese thugs who are illegally tormenting and slaying the great whales.
This is the violence we would like Senator Campbell to address.
We have made a decision to place ourselves in danger. The whales have not. No person should come down here to protect and defend the whales unless they are prepared to risk their lives to do so.
We are not interested in stories of people whining about how violent the Japanese are to people. If someone gets knocked into the water by a water cannon then that is the reason they came down here. Besides that is what survival suits are for.
Senator Campbell has asked that all involved use restraint. How can we restrain ourselves from intercepting the violence against these whales? We are not down here to watch whales die. We are down here to save the lives of whales and restraint translates into doing nothing.
The one thing we will not be doing is exercising restraint.
Click here to the following article printed in Australia's The Age:
Campbell raps Japan's whaling tactics
Anti-whaling 'pirates' get more muscle for Antarctic skirmish
Andrew Darby, Hobart
January 15, 2007
As conflict over whaling looms in the Antarctic, the Federal Government will today take a stand against Japan's "dangerous and heavy-handed" use of water cannon.
Ships of the conservation organisation Sea Shepherd are this week expected to begin hunting the Japanese fleet south-east of Australia, and Greenpeace will sail south from Auckland later this month.
Environment Minister Ian Campbell plans to use a Fremantle port emergency ship to illustrate the damaging power of cannon, which can shoot tonnes of sea water a minute from the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru.
"Even in Port Phillip or Sydney Harbour this would be regarded as an aggressive action," Senator Campbell said. "But in the Antarctic there is the ever-present danger of hypothermia, or of protesters falling out of their inflatables and under their propellers, or under ships.
"This is dangerous. It's not in compliance with international law that requires the avoidance of danger and the threat of injury."
Greenpeace activist Luke Cordingley, who was subjected to the cannon last summer, said Nisshin Maru was equipped with two remote-controlled machines above its stern ramp, which blasted a 20-centimetre jet of water more than 50 metres.
"It's extremely painful and extremely disorienting," said the 30-year-old ship's engineer from Lincoln, UK.
"If it hits you in the face you sort of black out. I was out for a full five seconds while I was driving an inflatable. I've been knocked over in the inflatable."
He said fire hoses were also commonly aimed at activists' heads by the whale catcher boats.
At the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission, Australia and Japan joined in a resolution demanding that governments "not condone any actions that are a risk to human life and property".
The Japanese Government's Institute for Cetacean Research says that protesters in inflatables repeatedly come dangerously close to their whalers.
Last year, Sea Shepherd tried to foul the propellers of Nisshin Maru, and Greenpeace campaigners tried to hook their inflatables to whales being hauled up the stern ramp.
The Japan Whaling Association recently criticised Senator Campbell for offering support for the anti-whaling protests.
Senator Campbell said all involved should show restraint.
¦ Croatia has become the 72nd nation to join the IWC. It is likely to vote on the anti-whaling side, further tilting the finely balanced organisation away from Japan, which won a simple majority at the last meeting.
"At this time, any nation joining the IWC who has a role in whale conservation would be welcome news," said Darren Kindleysides, campaigner for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.