My Sea Shepherd


 

Whales and the Absurdity of a Diplomatic Solution

February 24, 2010

Whales and the Absurdity of a Diplomatic Solution

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

There has been a great deal of talk by politicians in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Japan about finding a “diplomatic solution” to solve the debate over whaling in the Southern Ocean.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCurry has said that a diplomatic solution is the “quickest way to solve the problem.”

But what does this really mean?

If Japan insists upon killing more whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and Australia insists on a zero quota than what sort of solution can there possibly be?

Reason should hold that if the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is a “sanctuary” as established under international law, then how could there be a diplomatic justification for violating a sanctuary? A sanctuary implies a zero quota. Australia cannot accept anything less than a zero quota or it will be advocating the revocation of the sanctuary.

Diplomacy has failed miserably for 23 long years. Japan has not budged an inch in their stubborn insistence to keep poaching whales not only in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, but also in the territorial waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. So much for diplomacy being the quickest solution!

Diplomacy has worked indeed for Japan. It has served to prolong the stalemate, and thus has allowed Japan to return year after year to kill whales in an area specifically set aside as an area where whales are protected.

The Japanese view the Southern Ocean as their personal hunting fiefdom.

And it has become more than just the issue of whaling that keeps Japan hot tempered over the controversy.

It is a letting-off of steam from Japan’s long held feelings of anger, humiliation, and loss of pride for the defeat of Japan by allied forces in 1945.

What we are seeing now is the same die-hard stubbornness that had Japanese soldiers fighting on in Pacific islands, decades after the war was over.

Those of us who are defending the whales have no animosity towards the Japanese. We have opposed the Norwegian, Icelandic, Soviet, and Faeroese whalers with just as much opposition. We have even opposed whaling by American Indians, and in 1978 we were fighting Australian whalers in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, the Japanese whaling industry promotes the idea that we are anti-Japanese. They fan the flames of jingoism in their own country to fire up hatred towards anyone who wants to save the life of a whale.

In other words, many in Japan now consider the act of opposing the killing of whales and dolphins an act of racism. Certainly this is the view being pushed by the Institute of Cetacean Research.

Accusations of racism from Japan are particularly ridiculous considering that the Japanese openly refer to Westerners as “Gaijin,” meaning barbarian.

Imagine the horror if American or Australians referred to Japanese as “barbarians” or “savages.”

I’ve been to Japan, and I’ve seen racism practiced in ways that would be intolerable in Western countries. In Japan there are bars and restaurants that will not allow entry to anyone not Japanese. I can’t imagine an American establishment getting away with restricting access on the basis of race, yet in Japan this is considered normal.

The Japanese make references to the mistreatment of Native Americans or Aboriginals in Australia, forgetting that their treatment of the Ainu, the native inhabitants of Japan before the people known as the Japanese arrived, was deplorable. Under Emperor Meiji, the Ainu were forcefully assimilated, denied their languages and culture, and their land was stolen.

And if that was not bad enough, the Japanese did the same thing to the Chinese.

No matter what propaganda the Japanese whaling industry spews out, we are not motivated by considerations of race. Accusations that we are anti-Asiatic are absurd. We have Japanese and Chinese crewmembers on our ship and I myself have a daughter who is half Chinese.

My opposition to whaling, over-fishing, and other wildlife issues has nothing to do with the Japanese as a race, and everything to do with the activities of the Japanese as a people causing irreparable damage to marine eco-systems.

Sea Shepherd does not target Japanese illegal activities because they are Japanese; we target the activities because they are illegal and because they are destructive.

We do so in the same way we oppose the Canadian seal slaughter, the Norwegian and Icelandic whale slaughter, the worldwide shark fin trade benefiting China, the over-fishing of cod, tuna, and salmon, and many other species faced with the threat of extinction because of human exploitation.

The charge of racism is being used more and more to defend the destruction of species and habitats.

Already our Bluefin tuna campaign is being referred to as “racist” because the market for Bluefin tuna is primarily Japan. Japan refuses to accept that Bluefin tuna are endangered, just as Canadian fishermen refused to accept that Northern Cod populations were endangered until the day that the fishery collapsed. That was in 1992, and it has not recovered and is not expected to because other species are filling in the niches the Cod once held before being wiped out by the greed of the fishing industries.

The Japanese can call us whatever they like, however. I don’t hold to the rule that political correctness justifies the extinction of a species.

When it comes to the diminishment of diversity in our oceans and on land, there is only one race responsible and that is the human race.  Regardless of the shade of anyone’s skin, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will defend any endangered species from the cultural eco-imperialism of any individual, tribe, community, or nation. There can be no cultural justification for contributing to the extinction of a species or the destruction of a habitat or eco-system.

There will not be a diplomatic solution. It is impossible because it is not logical. As long as the area is designated as a sanctuary, all whaling within the borders of the sanctuary must be reduced to zero.

There can only be an ecological solution.  The killing of whales in the Southern Ocean must be prohibited.


 

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