Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

The ruling by the ICJ vindicates Sea Shepherd and supports what we have been saying for 12 years. Whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean is not scientific and it is illegalThe ruling by the ICJ vindicates Sea Shepherd and supports what we have been saying for 12 years. Whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean is not scientific and it is illegal
Photo: Barbara Veiga / Sea Shepherd
The whales of the Southern Ocean have prevailed before the International Court in the Hague.

That is all that is really important. 

Victory, of course, has many mothers so I am not surprised at all by the people and organizations taking credit. It is to be expected.

I am surprised to see some organizations post their pieces about how it was all their doing and not mentioning anyone else. The problem is that in the last decade I have not heard anything from many of these groups (that I won’t mention) so I was a little perplexed as to how it was their doing; but never mind, I’m sure it has served well as a fundraising vehicle for them. Humans are, by nature, opportunistic. 

But it has motivated me to acknowledge some of the people, organizations and governments that did in fact contribute hugely to this legal victory.

First to the Australian Federal Court that outlawed Japanese whaling in Australian waters in 2008 as a result of a lawsuit brought before that court by the Humane Society International.

Secondly to former Liberal Environment Minister and former Senator Ian Campbell for positioning Australia as the foremost nation defending the whales in 2006 and 2007.

Thirdly to the former Australian government of Kevin Rudd for filing the lawsuit against the Japanese government. It took awhile but the gamble paid off. Only a state government could marshal the resources to initiate this very expensive lawsuit. Thanks to Prime Minister Rudd, Australia stood up to the plate. Personally I think this will go down in history as the greatest accomplishment of the former Labor government, and certainly for the former Prime Minister.

Yes I know former Labor Environment Minister Peter Garrett was on television saying it had nothing to do with Sea Shepherd, but that is not surprising from the disgraced former politician who so very much betrayed the environmental movement when he was in power. Our past criticisms of him have yielded the sour grapes he is whining about today. Peter, you should have embraced the victory and not used it as an opportunity to criticize Sea Shepherd.

The reality is, of course, that if Sea Shepherd had nothing to do with the decision than he would not be on television using his air-time to say Sea Shepherd had nothing to do with it.

Fourthly to the Australian Greens who kept on Labor’s back every time they appeared to be backing off. And especially to Bob Brown, for not only championing this campaign as a Senator and the leader of the Greens but also for taking command of Sea Shepherd Australia’s Operation Zero Tolerance and Operation Relentless

And the fifth major player is New Zealand for contributing to the victory by joining Australia in support of the lawsuit before the ICJ.

There were of course other organizations like Living Oceans, the Australian Zoo, Kindness House, Oceanic Preservation Society, The Australian Greens and, yes, Greenpeace. Although I have been critical many times of Greenpeace, especially for pulling out of the Southern Oceans with their ships, I do acknowledge that they were involved for many years both in the Southern Ocean and in Japan until 2008. 

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel for bringing this issue to the eyes of the world. 

What was out of sight and thus out of mind for many years was revealed to the world because of Whale Wars.

And although Peter Garrett states that Sea Shepherd had nothing to do with the victory, I have to say he is being extremely unfair to the hundreds of Australians that crewed on the Sea Shepherd ships and the hundreds of thousands of Australians that supported the Sea Shepherd voyages.

When we began in 2002, Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean was virtually unknown. Patiently, Sea Shepherd ships were taken into the most hostile, remote seas in the world, year after year, to intervene against the killing of the whales and each year we became more successful.

In 2002, the support of French film-maker Jacques Perrin and Galatee Films was a very important factor in fielding that campaign.

In 2005, we were able to secure a helicopter thanks to Mike Galesi and Patty Shenker. Peter Heller came along with us and wrote the book “Whale Warriors.” Phil Wollen enabled us to berth in Melbourne. 

In 2006, Pritam Singh and John Allison helped us to secure the Robert Hunter which was later renamed the Steve Irwin. Senator Ian Campbell as Environment Minister was also a huge help to us that year.

In 2007, Animal Planet joined us for the first time and would participate every year thereafter.

In 2010, Bob Barker contributed $5.2 million to enable us to purchase the Bob Barker, our long-range ship, and a helicopter, crucial to scouting the whaling fleet and documenting their crimes.

In 2011, Sea Shepherd secured the Gojira, later renamed the Brigitte Bardot.

In 2012, Sam Simon gave us the funds to purchase the Sam Simon enabling us to increase our presence in patrolling, and to inflict the psychological damage of using one of Japan's former ships against their whale poaching operations.

Last year the whalers took less than 10% of their kill quota and over the years Sea Shepherd saved some 6,000 whales from the harpoons. And it was the publicity, the drama and the exposure by Sea Shepherd volunteers that kept this issue alive and made it an issue throughout the world. 

The ICJ was very much aware of Sea Shepherd’s interventions as were the world’s governments, and Sea Shepherd is mentioned by name in the ICJ rulings.

The ruling by the ICJ vindicates what we have been saying for 12 years. Whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean is not scientific and it is illegal. Sea Shepherd, not being a protest organization, was not down in the Southern Ocean protesting whaling; we were down in the Southern Ocean intervening against a criminal operation. 

Our primary objective was direct intervention to physically save the lives of as many whales as possible pending the decision by the ICJ. Our secondary objective was to expose and publicize the illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.

As in all campaigns, there is a diversity of approaches, tactics and strategies. Education, legislation, litigation, and enforcement are all approaches that contribute to achieving the goal.

The Sea Shepherd entities around the world, the supporters, shore volunteers, ship’s crews, advisors and directors and former directors all deserve credit for this legal victory.

I am compiling a complete list of all the people I would like to thank and I will post it within the next few days.

This was a legal victory achieved by the passion of thousands, utilizing litigation, legislation, education, and intervention.

If you donated to the cause, you contributed to the verdict. If you were crewing the ships or volunteering on shore, you contributed to the verdict. If you voted Labor or Green in 2007, you contributed to this verdict. 

And we can all be proud of the fact that we have proven to the world that the activities of the Japanese whalers backed up by the Japanese government have been illegal and that the International Court of Justice has denied the issuing of permits.

And lest we forget, whaling continues. Japan may ignore this verdict. They will most likely continue whaling in the North Pacific, and then there are the outlaw whaling nations of Iceland, Norway and the Faeroe Islands.

We have won a battle. We have not yet won the war.

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