The End of Japanese Whaling in the Southern Ocean is in Sight
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
The Yakuza controlled Japanese whaling fleet left Japan yesterday and have officially begun their 6,000 mile voyage to the remote waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Their intention is to slaughter 925 protected Antarctic Minke whales and 50 endangered Fin whales inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling and in violation of the Antarctic Treaty.
These people are poachers. They are criminals and they are engaged in the remorselessly cruel slaughter of the largest, most intelligent and most socially complex sentient beings in the oceans.
The Japanese fleet of eight ships will head south down the Eastern Pacific coastline of Asia past the West coast of Australia to the edge of the Antarctic ice fields, and there they will unleash the horror of their harpoon cannons with the intent to extinguish the lives of nearly a thousand whales. They are doing this under the ridiculously bogus excuse that the killing is being conducted for “scientific research.”
Whaling is “tradition” in Japan that began at the same time that torture for scientific research became a tradition. They began doing lethal so-called scientific research on human beings just before and during World War II and in 1946 with the help of General Douglas MacArthur they set up their Antarctic whaling fleets to begin their pogrom of cetacide in the Southern Oceans.
Our job is to stop the killers and to save the lives of as many whales as possible and the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and the newly secured Ady Gil are in position to depart from Fremantle, Western Australia on December 7th. The Japanese fleet and the Sea Shepherd fleet should arrive off the coast of Antarctica at around the same time.
Sea Shepherd will once again be taking a film crew to the Southern Oceans, this time to film the 3rd season of Animal Planet’s hit show Whale Wars.
Hopefully, it will be the last season for the show. Our objective is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically and I believe that this is the year that we have the best chance of doing so. We have the only hit TV show on the air where the stars want the show to end because the end of Japanese whaling will bring an end to Whale Wars.
The last three Sea Shepherd Antarctic Whale Defense campaigns, Operation Leviathan (2006-2007), Operation Migaloo (2007-2008) and Operation Musashi (2008-2009), were successful in cutting whale kill quotas in half and negating the profits of the whaling fleet. The whalers are now deeply in financial debt and the newly elected government of Prime Minister Jun Hoshikawa has indicated they are fed up with the massive subsidies the government is paying to support an industry that is losing money and is giving the nation of Japan a very negative image worldwide.
The Sea Shepherd’s long-term objective is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically. We are very close to bankrupting the fleet and I am confident that we will hurt their profits significantly this year to the point we may be able to force the shutting down of the fleet.
It also gives the Hoshikawa government an honorable way to retreat from their whaling activities in the Southern Ocean. Discontinuing the subsidies for an industry that consistently fails to make a profit is simply good business. The spending review committee established by Japan's new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has recommended that funding for the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation be cancelled after 2010. The OFCF is the largest financer of the Tokyo-based Institute of Cetacean Research.
If the government loans for whaling are revoked, it is unlikely the Institute of Cetacean Research can continue to operate. Reports in the Japanese media claim that the Institute has failed to fully repay more than one billion yen in previous OFCF loans. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the reason these loans have not been repaid. Our interventions have been successful in negating their profits for the last three fiscal years.
In addition, the committee will be reviewing the spending by the Department of Foreign Affairs and their expenditures of bribes to third world countries in exchange for their pro-whaling votes at the International Whaling Commission meetings.
There is a good possibility that many of these third world Japanese puppet governments will not have the money to make an appearance at the 2010 meeting of the IWC scheduled for next June in Morocco.
United States President Barack Obama will be visiting Japan this week and the whaling issue is on the agenda for his meeting with the Prime Minister.
The position of the United States is one of opposition to commercial whaling and lethal scientific research whaling, as expressed in a statement by the U.S. State Department, which says, "The United States is committed to advancing the global conservation and management of large whale populations through science-based policies and leadership in the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
"The United States continues to view the commercial whaling moratorium as a necessary conservation measure and believes that lethal scientific whaling is unnecessary in modern whale conservation management," the State Department says.
Meanwhile, 40 environmental nongovernmental organizations that work in Latin America have requested that their governments take diplomatic actions against the killing of whales "under supposed scientific purposes" to save the lives of hundreds of whales in the Southern Hemisphere.
Adding weight to our efforts is a petition presented earlier this week to Japan and signed by all the Latin American commissioners of the International Whaling Commission.
Elsa Cabrera, executive director of the Cetacean Conservation Center of Chile, said, "The vast support of the Latin-American NGOs is a strong message to our governments about the need to publicly reject the so-called 'scientific whaling' operations, an activity that is not regulated and that it is conducted without any mechanisms of control in waters that paradoxically are a whale sanctuary."
In the letter the NGOs affirmed, "Since the implementation of the moratorium on commercial whaling, the government of Japan has captured more than 8,000 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Roxana Schteinbarg, executive coordinator of the Whale Conservation Institute of Argentina declared, "We are confident that our governments will pay attention to our concerns and begin actions that can stop the Japanese whaling fleet."
The Sea Shepherd ships will be heading into a confrontation with the Japanese whaling fleet with the eyes of the world upon us. We have a difficult challenge. The Japanese whalers will try to kill us and if they do injure or kill any of my crew or myself the government of Japan will justify and defend their crimes.
We on the other hand must intervene to halt their whaling without injuring any of the Japanese whalers knowing that no matter how non-violent our efforts, our governments will not support us if we get into trouble and will condemn our actions no matter how careful we are in our tactics.
The Greenpeace Foundation has already condemned Sea Shepherd efforts and continues to raise funds to save the whales despite the fact that they have not returned to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the last two years and they have no plans to return this year. Once again the Sea Shepherd ships will take on the whalers without any support from any other non-governmental organization or government.
It has been a prolonged campaign and this is the 6th voyage that Sea Shepherd has mounted to intervene against the Japanese whale poachers. Our strategy all along has been to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically – to bankrupt them.
I am confident that we will achieve this objective and I am hopeful that this will be the last voyage that we will need to undertake to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.