The Mouse That Roared
How the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has Intimidated the Japanese Whaling Industry and helped Expose the Corruption and Ineptness of the International Whaling Commission
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On a sidewalk in front of the Hotel de France in Saint Helier, Jersey…
Greenpeacer: “What are you people doing here?”
Sea Shepherd Volunteer: “The same thing you used to do before you put on that suit and tie and went inside to become one of them”
What an amusing and interesting week this has been on the tiny isle of Jersey in the English Channel.
I’ve never been to Jersey before and I found it to be an extremely friendly, beautiful, and pleasant local outpost of Great Britain. Hugging the coast of France, this island, famous for jersey cows and potatoes, is one of the only parts of Britain to have experienced the visit of Nazi officers during World War II. I can see why Hitler’s henchmen chose this island to be a rest and recreation retreat from the ordeals of the Eastern Front. They even built a nice little hospital in a cave for the entertainment of future tourists. These ruthless advocates of genocide left here over 65 years ago, but this week, the brutal advocates of the slaughter of other highly intelligent sentient earthlings descended on this lovely little island to plead their case for permission to inflict gross cruelty and needless death upon the gentle and defenseless whales of our world.
Japan, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and their merry band of pathetic puppets from Japanese welfare colonies like Togo, Mongolia, Mali, and Antigua amongst others including the Japanese colony of Palau (recently bought and paid for after my meeting with the President in March.)
The blood lusting quartet was on a quest for more victims. Their sycophantic followers were looking for four star accommodations, gourmet meals, comfort girls, and of course, their cash rewards for betraying the whales of the world to their anxious killers.
Sea Shepherd arrived with the Brigitte Bardot, the ship that had made life so miserable to the Japanese whalers only a few months previously. And we were pleasantly surprised to see so many Sea Shepherd supporters there to greet us. In fact Sea Shepherd supporters outnumbered supporters from all other organizations together and they came at their own expense from Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy and Japan, And we were also quite pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a newly formed Sea Shepherd chapter in Jersey.
And so on Monday, July 11th we all went up to the Hotel de France to visit the delegates to the International Whaling Commission.
And everyone went inside EXCEPT for anyone wearing Sea Shepherd colours or associated in any way with Sea Shepherd. Natalie Fox of Women Against Whaling and Howie Cooke of Surfers for Cetaceans had their passes pulled. Undeterred, Howie picked up his guitar and led the crowd outside with songs and chants.
The only problem was that the crowd outside was quite some distance from the hotel entrance so everyone decided to head up to the main venue and one solitary security guard did not even try to stop them. There was also not a single policeman in sight. Other security guards took up positions by the doors of the hotel and the conference room, as some 60 people, mostly dressed in black and white, assembled loudly but peacefully. The head of security arrived to inform us all that we were trespassing.
“Obviously you’re not from Jersey sir,” I said. “Because if you were, you would know that Jersey does not have any trespass laws.”
He seemed puzzled by that and then said, “Well, in the interest of keeping the peace, I would like to ask you all to leave.”
“Sorry sir,” I answered, “Leaving is not in the interest of us, or the whales. We’re interested in keeping the peace in the Southern Ocean. However, if you call the police and they request us to leave, we will do so.”
That bought us another 40 minutes until a few Jersey police officers arrived and said, “The head of IWC security has asked you to leave.”
“I understand that, but we have no intention of doing what the IWC security chief orders us to do. He has no authority over us because we are not officially part of the IWC but if you request that we leave, we shall do so.”
And they did make the request officially, so Howie slowly led them away, strumming his guitar and leading the crowd back down the hill where the police set up a permanent security detail.
The Japanese delegation made an official complaint to the secretary of the IWC complaining that their lunch was disrupted by the demonstration.
And then the meetings of the world’s most corrupt and ineffectual ocean conservation organization began with the usual posturing and deflections, silliness, and duplicity that the IWC has become famous for.
Briefly there were four proposals and issues of concern to Sea Shepherd. (1) The British proposal to end cash payments from member nations. (2) The Brazilian and Argentinean proposal to establish a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. (3) What is going to be done about Norwegian and Icelandic whaling ? (4) Japan’s proposal to censure Sea Shepherd for interfering with their illegal whaling operations.
The British proposal passed and it was the only good news of the entire meeting. No more blatant bribes from Japan to get little nations to vote against the whales. There will still be bribery and corruption of course but hopefully the lack of cash incentives may remove some of the more enthusiastic Japanese puppets like Daven Joseph, the hysterically amusing mouthpiece from Antigua and Barbuda who can always be counted on to defend Japan’s ambitions to kill more whales.
According to Joseph, who called New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain the “axis of intolerance,” opponents of whaling are “racist cultural imperialists from rich nations trying to destroy the traditions of poor nations.” Hmmmm, poor nations like Japan, Norway, and Iceland I suppose! The Brazilian and Argentinean proposal to create a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary did not go anywhere because Japan led the Northern Hemisphere countries like Norway and Iceland in an angry walk-out of the meeting, all refusing to even discuss the issue let alone vote on it.
What is going to be done about Norwegian and Icelandic whaling? Pretty much the same thing that has been done for the last two decades – absolutely nothing.
The one item on the agenda that took up the most time was the proposal by Japan on ‘Safety at Sea.’ This is actually the ‘we must destroy Sea Shepherd proposal.’
Australia rebuffed Japan’s demand to deny access to of Australian ports to Sea Shepherd. U.S. whaling commissioner Monica Medina indicated that she would see that Sea Shepherd will be punished, but for what she did not say nor did she say how she would legally go about doing so since it is illegal for the United States to use the IRS as a weapon against an American charitable organization at the request of a foreign government.
Of course, the allegations from Japan were not balanced with any defense from Sea Shepherd because Sea Shepherd is not allowed to attend the meetings or even to enter the hotel where the meetings take place. This means that whereas Japanese whalers intentionally rammed Sea Shepherd vessels five times, destroyed one anti-whaling vessel and almost killed its crew, threw spears, shot at and tossed concussion grenades at our crew, they claim that our tossing rotten butter at them was a threat to their safety.
Sea Shepherd appreciates Australia standing up to the Japanese delegation’s allegations that Sea Shepherd is jeopardizing the safety of their so-called research vessels in the Antarctic. The Australian delegate replied that Japan should stop calling their whaling ships ‘research’ vessels. New Zealand did point out that their investigation into the destruction of the trimaran concluded that Japan was 50% negligent.
The most disheartening news of the meeting was the continuing efforts by the U.S. delegation to work towards legalizing whaling. I told one of the U.S. delegates that I certainly would not be voting for President Obama again in the election next year. He laughed and said, “Who will you vote for, Sarah Palin?”
“No,” I replied. “I’m not going to vote for anyone – voting only serves to encourage politicians to continue to betray their promises.”
President Obama is the first President since Ronald Reagan to side with the Japanese whalers instead of with conservationists and the whales. Prior to the last election, he promised to be a strong defender of the moratorium on whaling.
“There is considerable unease throughout the region because the U.S. delegation, which is aggressive and unwilling to negotiate, is going to try to retable an initiative in Jersey that would legitimize whaling. It is truly unfortunate because the USA has a long tradition of conservationism and defense of non-lethal use (of whales) and now the U.S. delegation is pro-whaling.”
-Jose Truda Palazzo, former Brazilian Commissioner to the IWC
But despite the fact that the proposal was one-sided, biased, and clearly part of a vendetta of revenge against Sea Shepherd by Japan, the motion to condemn Sea Shepherd was passed unanimously.
Not that we are overly concerned. We can handle our wrists being slapped in exchange for the lives of the thousands of whales we have saved from the Japanese harpoons. Being condemned by the IWC means, well – absolutely nothing! We actually look on it as a positive development.
What this proposal by Japan has demonstrated is that the only thing that has ever curtailed whaling and actually saved the lives of whales is Sea Shepherd intervention. Japan has officially and publicly admitted that the only thing that stands in their way of killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is Sea Shepherd.
And as a result, we have the powerful nation of Japan swearing they will destroy us. We have mainstream environmental organizations like Greenpeace condemning us. We have the United States saying they will punish us. We have Iceland calling us eco-terrorists and we have the IWC banning us permanently from their meetings.
Ignored, reviled, condemned, ostracized, ridiculed, ignorant, violent, criminals, pirates, media whores, renegades, vigilantes, irritating, frustrating, insane, and ridiculous. These are a few of the names and accusations thrown at us. But we don’t mind at all because what counts to us is the fact that thousands of whales are alive and free, swimming, suckling, and raising their young, communicating with each other and enjoying life on this wonderful planet because we intervened.
We have dared to take on Japan and the world, and our crews armed with passion and courage, have achieved with our aggressive non-violent tactics, what all of the meetings, petitions, demonstrations, and efforts over decades have failed to do. We have saved whales…thousands of whales, and we have done so without injuring a single person.
It’s a record we are proud of and really, how can we take seriously a condemnation from an international body that has been openly exposed as corrupt and ineffectual? The IWC should be rendered obsolete and it should be disbanded because there is an alternative.
And that alternative has been put forth by Prince Albert of Monaco:
On June 20, Monaco’s IWC delegate Frederic Briand called upon the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to give permanent protection to all whales and dolphins on the high seas. Briand stated that “the overwhelming majority of cetacean populations lack coordinated arrangements for their global safeguard and management. We call therefore on the international community to adopt a collective policy in conformity with the precautionary provisions of UNCLOS and other relevant international law, to ensure full and permanent protection for cetaceans on the high seas. Marine migratory species of cetaceans, all 76 of them, are a major component of the world ocean. By definition they do not belong to a particular place, and even less to a specific party. They are our common heritage, vested in the trusteeship of the community of nations, for the benefit of current and future generations. On the road to Rio, their conservation must be a truly international endeavor so that the conservation efforts of Coastal States are not undermined by lack of protection for the same species and populations in the high seas portion of their range.”
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society strongly agrees with Monaco’s proposal and strongly condemns the International Whaling Commission of being a deeply corrupt and compromised organization that is not fit, qualified nor suitable to regulate whaling and whale conservation efforts. The IWC should be disbanded and all authority to regulate whaling and whale conservation efforts including that of small cetaceans must be placed under the auspices of a special body appointed by the United Nations.
When you think of it, it is amazing that the government of Japan and the Japanese whaling fleet are so intimidated by our small non-governmental and non-profit organization. One of the most powerful nations in the world is literally whining with frustration because they cannot stop Sea Shepherd from intervening against their illegal whaling operations. It is amazing that the IWC feels so threatened by Sea Shepherd that not only have we been banned from attending the annual meetings, we are now banned from entering any hotels where the meetings are held and anyone associated with us or seen talking with us are also banned from the meetings and the hotels.
Like Peter Sellers in the 1959 movie The Mouse That Roared, our small organization of passionate volunteers have taken on and beaten a far superior power and we have captured the world’s attention over the issue of whaling, becoming one of the most effective and influential marine conservation forces on the planet.
At this year’s IWC meeting, Japan announced that they will not give in to Sea Shepherd and despite a lack of economic and political justification, they intend to send their whaling fleet back to the Southern Ocean for no other reason than as a desperate face-saving move to NOT appear to be surrendering to pressure from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
We can expect some heavy tactics from nations whose arms will be twisted by Japan. We can expect harassment and intimidation, threats, and possibly lawsuits. Maybe they might set me up for a scandal like they did with Julian Assange. When it comes to dirty tricks, governments can never be under estimated. But nothing will deter Sea Shepherd from returning to once again knock down the lethal harpoons of the barbarically cruel Japanese whaling fleet.
Our objective remains focused – we must sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically. We must drive them so far into debt that they will never recover. We must defend the defenseless from their horrifically cruel harpoons and we must not retreat and we must never surrender, no matter how dangerous, no matter how seemingly impossible the obstacles are that they throw before us.
In comparison to the money and power, influence and strength of the nation of Japan, Sea Shepherd is a mouse indeed – but not only a mouse that can roar, but a mouse with teeth backed up by the imagination, determination, courage, compassion, and passion of the greatest volunteers in the world – my crew!