Jousting with the Rumor Mill
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
There are rumors aplenty floating about, especially on Facebook, about how the American seafood company Gorton’s is supposedly sending a refueling supply ship to refuel the Japanese whaling fleet. The rumors run the gamut of the Japanese whaling fleet actually refueling in Chile or going to Easter Island to be refueled by a tanker out of Chile. There are rumors that this tanker, apparently owned by the Chilean salmon aquaculture company Salmones Antarctic, will refuel the whalers either in Easter Island, off the coast of Chile, or in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary itself.
The first rumor is easily quashed. The following is a response from Gorton’s:
Gorton’s and its management have always strongly opposed whaling of any kind. Gorton’s itself has never engaged in any whaling activities. We have not killed a single whale in our entire 160-year history, and never will. We have made our position well known to our parent company Nippon Suisan, the seafood industry, and our community. Please be assured that Nippon Suisan does not have any ties to the Japanese government’s research whaling program, nor does it have any influence over the Japanese government’s whaling policy. We would also like to assure you that Salmones Antarctic has not leased a refueling tanker to the Japanese whaling fleet during the 2010/2011 season; there is no truth to this rumor.
Are they lying? Not likely. Gorton’s is a long-established company and a lie like this would easily catch up with them. They know that and they would not risk it.
Sea Shepherd will continue to investigate any connections in Chile, however, I think it is safe to say that no refueling operations will take place that involve the Japanese fleet going to Easter Island. Easter Island is too far north to make this an economically viable option for the whaling fleet and Chile is a member of the Latin American bloc that strongly opposes whaling. Chile recently declared all of their territorial waters as a sanctuary for whales and it is doubtful that the Chilean government would support the Japanese whalers to refuel in their territorial waters. New Zealand has shown more willingness to support Japanese whaling operations than Chile and even New Zealand will not allow Japanese whalers to enter into their ports.
There is a possibility that a tanker could be chartered out of Chile to refuel and intercept supplies of whale meat. Most likely that tanker supply ship would also head to the Southern Ocean to refuel the whaling vessels. That possibility is being investigated and if it were to occur, the refueling operation would most likely take place in early to mid February.
By law, in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty, refueling operations are not allowed south of 60-degrees. However, Japan has violated this regulation before and will most likely be willing to do so again in contempt of the treaty. Sea Shepherd’s ships will obstruct any attempt to illegally refuel the Nisshin Maru, for we are confident that we will locate the whaling fleet and obstruct their operations before the fleet needs to refuel.
Sea Shepherd has also received assurances that Chile would not be hostile towards Sea Shepherd's ships entering Chilean ports. Sea Shepherd has an established chapter in Chile and we have a solid support base there as well.
Another rumor that I don’t give much credence to is that the whalers intend to kill whales in the presence of Sea Shepherd’s ships. In 2009, the Japanese whalers tried to do just that. Three whales were killed and the loading of those three whales resulted in three collisions between harpoon vessels and the Steve Irwin. They have not attempted to do that again since that time but if they attempt to do so this season, then they will be guaranteed further collisions. The whales that were killed in 2009 were slain from a distance of over twelve miles; the Steve Irwin had no way of keeping up with their faster harpoon vessels to block the killings. This season we have the Gojira and a faster longer-range helicopter to dog and harass the Japanese killing boats.
The claims that there are armed Japanese Coast Guards onboard the whaling vessels are accurate. We do not know how many or what they are armed with but we do know that there are indeed armed Japanese Coast Guard personnel onboard the whaling vessels. However, these Coast Guard officers have no jurisdiction to board Dutch or Australian registered ships and any attempt by them to do so will be met with non-lethal but persuasive resistance.
The stakes are exceptionally high this season. The whalers know they must produce a kill acceptable to the Japanese government’s approval in order to justify their continued subsidies for their economically draining enterprise that has now become a corporate welfare hole contributing nothing to Japan economically, scientifically, culturally, and especially politically. The entire Japanese whaling operation is becoming more and more of an embarrassment to Japan with each passing year. The international public is becoming more and more aware and increasingly angry by the intransigence of the Japanese government on this issue. And now the industry is also being rocked by scandal with accusations of bribery and corruption.
I am confident that the key to success is through continued persistence from people around the world calling Japanese embassies and consulates, demonstrating before Japanese embassies and consulates, as well as Sea Shepherd’s efforts on location to continue to obstruct their illegal whaling and refueling operations.
Rumors will abound, they always do, but what is more important than quashing rumors is abolishing whaling itself and we intend to do that this season with all of the passion we can muster in our hearts.
What You Can Do to Help Stop the Slaughter
TAKE ACTION! There are many things you can do to help save the whales and dolphins from slaughter. Please join us in our continuing efforts by applying pressure to the Japanese government and their embassies and consulates worldwide to take action.
WRITE: Send a letter, e-mail, and/or fax the Prime Minister of Japan, the Minister of Fisheries, your local embassy or consulate and other Japanese officials to let them know that this barbaric slaughter is unacceptable.
PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN
Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. 100-8914 JAPAN
Online comment form #1: https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html
Online comment form #2: https://form.cao.go.jp/kokusai/en_opinion-0001.html
MINISTER OF FISHERIES
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. 100-8950 JAPAN
Contact form: https://www.contact.maff.go.jp/maff/form/114e.html
EMBASSY OF JAPAN IN WASHINGTON D.C.
Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki
2520 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 238-6700
Fax: (202) 328-2187
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL MEDIA (TV, NEWSPAPERS, AND RADIO):
In order to spread the word about what is happening in Japan, we need media coverage to inform the public on these important issues.
- Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers
- Call TV and radio stations to ask them to cover this important news
- You can offer Sea Shepherd telephone number 1-360-370-5650, so the media can contact us for interviews with Sea Shepherd President and Founder Captain Paul Watson
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