When the question arises as to why the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is down in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary intervening against Japanese whalers, my answer is always plain and simple: We are down here because no one else is doing the job.
Japanese whalers are poachers. It's as simple as that. They are poaching endangered and protected whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. If the Uruguayans catch Patagonia or Antarctic Toothfish (Chilean Sea bass) in these waters, Australia will arrest them, yet the Japanese kill protected and endangered whales in a sanctuary with impunity.
If the signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty and the International Whaling Commission upheld their responsibilities to enforce these conservation laws, we as a non-governmental organization would not have to do it. However, we are empowered to intervene in accordance with the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature that allows for intervention by non-governmental organizations to uphold international conservation law.
Finally, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is saying he will take Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) unless Japan agrees to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The problem is Japan will most likely simply ignore any court ruling. New Zealand says they will back court action, but only if diplomacy fails first. This is amusing simply because diplomacy on this issue has failed to budge the Japanese an inch in 23 years. Japan looks on diplomacy as a perpetual stalling measure to continue the business of slaughtering whales.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully told reporters that negotiations are underway. "We're doing exactly what the previous government did which is to try and follow the diplomatic process through to its logical conclusion - hoping for the best, and working for the best, " said McCully. What he meant by "logical conclusions" is a mystery.
New Zealand's Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was appointed by the previous administration. McCully said Palmer had now been appointed chairman of the IWC support group, "which is where the really meaningful negotiations are occurring at the moment and that process will play its way out over the next few weeks."
IWC negotiations have been going on for 23 years without any meaningful progress. They simply agree to meet in another exotic location to begin "negotiations" all over again.
McCully also said that if a diplomatic solution could be reached, more whales would be saved, saying, "Diplomatically gets you a quick solution, going head to head means this thing is tied up for ages in the ICJ. It could take years."
This is the most amazingly stupid statement yet. He describes 23 years of diplomacy with no end in sight as a "quick solution." Just what is it they're talking about? Negotiations seem to be of the nature of allowing Japan to kill more whales elsewhere in return for a moderate reduction in whale kills in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
McCully says allegations the government was more interested in trade with Japan than progress on whaling were groundless and his main aim was to get the quickest result. This is political double talk. Everyone knows that so-called Japanese research whaling is, in reality, commercial whaling. Everyone also knows that New Zealand is terrified of offending trade relations with Japan.
Australian Foreign Minister McCully also made a point of condemning the "violence" of Sea Shepherd for lobbing stink bombs and obstructing whaling operations. But McCully failed to condemn the sinking of the Sea Shepherd ship Ady Gil, or the ramming of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker by the Japanese whalers.
The majority of New Zealanders are opposed to whaling, as are the majority of Australians. Earlier in the year McCully, sounding more like Japan's Foreign Minister, actually said that New Zealander Peter Bethune got what he deserved for daring to oppose the whalers directly. Captain Peter Bethune is a courageous Kiwi who took action, risking life and freedom, to oppose illegal Japanese whaling. Meanwhile the politicians, who talk of appeasement with the Japanese whalers, refuse to defend the interests of one of their own citizens for fear of upsetting the Japanese business community.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has found the key to shutting down illegal whaling by Japan. It's simple economics. Cut their kill quotas and negate their profits. The only whales saved by anyone in the last five years, have been saved by direct action efforts from Sea Shepherd. This year will be the most effective intervention yet.
Whales are alive because of Sea Shepherd and our global network of supporters that includes the majority of the citizens of Australia and New Zealand. The whaling industry has lost profits for five years because of Sea Shepherd. These are real results accomplished within the context of the law, and without causing a single injury.
The governments of New Zealand and Australia have not saved a single whale in 23 years of diplomatic negotiations.
The Greenpeace Foundation has not saved a single whale during their campaigns where they hung banners and documented the slaughter of the whales.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society cut the quota by 84 in 2005/2006, 500+ in 2006/2007(numbers lowered by contribution of accidental fire unrelated to Sea Shepherd on the Nisshin Maru), some 400 whales in 2007/2008, and 380 whales in 2008/2009. We are confident that Sea Shepherd will cut the quota in half for 2009/2010.
Sea Shepherd receives the most criticism and provokes the most controversy, but the reality is that the Sea Shepherd approach has proven to be the most successful at cutting the kill numbers of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.