Operation Migaloo

Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign
Captain & Crew Blog 07-08

December 19, 2007

click to enlarge

Report from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin

by Captain Paul Watson

Operation Migaloo is already a success

Although the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has not yet located the Japanese whaling fleet, it is obvious that Operation Migaloo is having an impact.

The issue of illegal Japanese whaling is receiving international attention around the world. Most importantly for the first time ever, the story is being reported in the Japanese media and the Japanese people are becoming more aware of their government's illegal activities.

The media in Australia and New Zealand are not just reporting the issue, they are also running scathing editorials against Japanese whaling activities.

And media coverage translate into public awareness and public awareness translates into political pressure and the new Australian Labor government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is taking a much more aggressive position in opposition to whaling then the previous Liberal government of former Prime Minister John Howard.

It has been a long hard campaign for Sea Shepherd. This is our fourth expedition to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We began this effort with the 2002/2003 campaign with the Farley Mowat and returned 2005/2006 with a helicopter. Operation Leviathan saw Sea Shepherd bring two ships to the Ross Sea , the return of the Farley Mowat for the third time and the first voyage of the Robert Hunter . For Operation Migaloo, the Robert Hunter's name has been changed to the Steve Irwin to reflect the late Crocodile Hunter's concerns for stopping the Japanese pirate whalers.

The name Operation Migaloo is to focus attention on the fact that Japan is this year targeting endangered Humpback whales for the first time and the most famous of all of Australia 's Humpback whales in Migaloo, the only albino Humpback in the world. Migaloo is the Aboriginal name word for "White Fella."

Every day that the Steve Irwin spends in pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet brings attention to Japan 's blatant illegality in killing endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

Out actual task in searching for the Japanese fleet is awesome. We are looking for six ships in an area twice the size of Australia and we are working with limited resources without any governmental support against a wealthy industry with the most sophisticated equipment and the full backing both financially and with military surveillance and defense capabilities.

But we do what we can do with the resources available to us and every year we oppose the Japanese whalers we become stronger. The first year we had only one slow ship and could not find them, the second year we added a helicopter and located them three times and chased them for over 3,000 miles along the coast with the consequence that they fell 83 whales short of their quota. On our last campaign we added a faster ship and our interventions contributed to the fact that the whaling fleet returned to Japan with 500 whales under their quota meaning more than 50% of the whales they targeted were saved.

This year we are stronger than ever before but we still have a fraction of the resources to defend whales that Japan has available to kill the whales.

It would be nice if we could cooperate with the Greenpeace Foundation to track and oppose the whalers. After all we should be on the same page but Greenpeace refuses to respond to our repeated requests and refuses to provide coordinates for the Japanese fleet when they find them first. Sea Shepherd will nonetheless provide Greenpeace with the coordinates as we did earlier this year when we located the Japanese whaling fleet first.

The Greenpeace argument that I am anti-Greenpeace is not quite correct. It is difficult for me to be totally opposed to an organization of which I am a founding father. After all I was the 1st Officer on the first two Greenpeace whale campaigns in 1975 and 1976 and I developed the original Greenpeace tactics for interfering with the whalers, tactics that Greenpeace uses today. Robert Hunter and I were the first people in history to place our bodies between the harpoons and the whales.

Greenpeace argues that Sea Shepherd advocates violence and has even accused me of being thrown out of Greenpeace for advocating violent tactics when the fact is that I resigned from Greenpeace in 1977 over disagreements with then President Patrick Moore who today works for the nuclear and forests industry as a paid public relations flak. Proof of this is that I am a signatory co-founder of Greenpeace International in October 1979 and my Sea Shepherd campaign of ramming and sinking the pirate whaler Sierra in 1975 was the cover story written by myself in the Greenpeace Chronicles in September 1979. In other words, Greenpeace supported my attacks on illegal whalers in 1979 without criticism.

More importantly Sea Shepherd's history of non-violence is unblemished. We have never injured a single person not has any of our crew been injured and we have never been convicted of a felony crime. This is a better history of non-violence than Greenpeace so they should understand that although we may differ slightly on tactics, the end result is the same - Objectives to be achieved through non-violent intervention. Greenpeace forgets that Robert Hunter and I were the originators of Greenpeace tactics and responsible for the fact that Greenpeace exists today. And most importantly we all need to understand that strength comes from diversity and not division.

So we continue to hold the olive branch out to Greenpeace in the hope that they will one day recognize that we are natural allies and should be working together. Until then we will continue to provide them with information without conditions.

If we are going to stop the ruthless Japanese whaling fleet we will need a cooperative effort not just with Greenpeace but also with the Humane Society, the Australian and New Zealand governments and any and all organizations and governments that want to end illegal whaling activities. We should all be on the same page if we are to turn the page on whaling to make it history.