The Australian Broadcasting National (ABC) News Report featured Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Steve Shallhorn of Greenpeace, Senator Ian Campbell, the Australian Minister of the Environment, and Dr. Kate Barclay of Sydney University of Technology.
It was a program that reached a great many citizens in Australia. ABC wrongly described Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a "radical new element." We have, of course, been around since 1977, and in 1994, Sixty Minutes Australia ran a feature report on our confrontations with the Norwegian whalers.
Sea Shepherd is quite pleased with the coverage. Captain Paul Watson was amused to hear himself called a lunatic by Environment Minister Ian Campbell, especially after Campbell says it is difficult to pass judgment from thousands of miles away and then proceeded to pass judgment.
"It really is about all that one can expect from this man. If I had any respect for him I might be offended, but lets get serious, this guy is lame. Here he is a representative of the government of Australia, charged with protecting natural resources in Australian territory and he says he is powerless to stop the Japanese from illegally slaughtering whales in the Australian Economic Zone. I just consulted a chart of the Antarctic coast, and there it is, a dotted line with 'Australian Economic Zone' clearly printed on it. Yet, Mr. Campbell says he is powerless to do anything about it. His government intercepts poachers from poorer nations in the same waters but not the Japanese. Sounds like a double standard to me," said Captain Watson. "The fact is that the man is embarrassed because I've called him on the carpet. I have asked questions he does not want to answer and exposed truths that he would rather keep quiet, and all that he can do in response is manage a pathetic insult. I don't see him calling the Captain of the Nisshin Maru a lunatic for twice ramming vessels or attempting to ram me. He is posing and posturing, and dares to say that the activities of Sea Shepherd will bring the 'whale conservation cause into massive disrepute.' The reality is that it can't fall into any more disrepute than it has become with massive illegal slaughter and not a government in the world doing anything about it. Senator Campbell should bloody well be ashamed of himself. I know for a fact from the messages that I have received that a good many Australians are embarrassed about the impotent statements he has been making."
Captain Paul Watson has been confronting whalers on the high seas since 1977 and then continued with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society doing the same since 1979. We have never caused a single injury to anyone we have opposed. We have saved more whales than Senator Campbell ever has or ever will do with his academic criticisms. His preference is for people to do nothing - to not rock the boat and to be polite to the Japanese killers. Sea Shepherd has no intention of abiding this illegal slaughter of whales quietly.
Text of the Broadcast:
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Whaling causes trouble on the high seas
Reporter: Mick Bunworth
MAXINE McKEW: Now to the battle being fought on the high seas 2,000 nautical
miles south-west of Perth, where Japanese ships are hunting whales and a
flotilla of protest vessels is trying to stop them. It's a confrontation
that has been played out before, largely for the benefit of cameras that can
bring the action to television audiences around the world. But this time
there's a level of brinkmanship that threatens to cause serious harm to
sailors a long way from help. And a radical new element in the protest fleet
is even planning to ram the Japanese whalers. Mick Bunworth reports.
MICK BUNWORTH: It is a frigid and remote arena of battle, and the Southern
Ocean is playing host to an increasingly dangerous game of brinkmanship.
Greenpeace's vessel Arctic Warrior has already collided with the Japanese
whaling ship Nisshin Maru. In the latest clash, Greenpeace claims one of its
activists was dragged into the freezing ocean, snagged by a Japanese harpoon
line after his rubber boat got between him and the self-proclaimed
researchers and their prey.
STEVE SHALLHORNE, CEO, GREENPEACE AUSTRALIA: Certainly there's been some evaluation since the weekend incident. But we are still going to maintain
our basic tactic which is putting ourselves between the harpoon and the
SENATOR IAN CAMPBELL, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: I think it's very, very hard to
pass judgment on those sort of issues when you're thousands of miles away.
As I've been saying for the last few weeks, both the Japanese and the
Greenpeace people need to have respect for each other.
MICK BUNWORTH: This is a battle not just for whale's lives, but also the
hearts and mind of people sitting thousands of nautical miles away.
Greenpeace regularly films the whalers and they in turn use placards to
ensure viewers don't get the wrong idea.
STEVE SHALLHORNE: The purpose of the Greenpeace campaign in the Southern
Ocean is to put the public spotlight on the nature of the whaling activity.
This is the first time in five years that we've been down in the Southern
Ocean and we chose to go this year because the Japanese took the step of
doubling their quota of minke whale.
MICK BUNWORTH: But the relatively civilised interaction between Greenpeace
and the whalers has been rejected by the 'Sea Shepherd' Group. Today, the
7:30 Report spoke via satellite phone to captain Paul Watson on board Sea
Shepherd's flagship, which is chasing the Japanese whaling fleet across the
Southern Ocean. Captain Watson is a veteran of the group's anti-sealing
campaigns and says, unlike Greenpeace, he intends to deliberately ram the
CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON, 'FARLEY MOWAT': It is a criminal operation, it's
illegal, it has no business being there. There's no difference between them
and ivory poachers or drug traffickers. What we're trying to do is to tell
them we're serious and we want them to get out of this area and if this
means disabling their equipment, I find nothing wrong with that. This
equipment is being used for illegal purposes. We've attacked whaling ships
in the past, in fact we've sunk nine whaling ships since 1979.
MICK BUNWORTH: Captain Watson says he'll withdraw his threat if the
Australian or New Zealand Governments launch legal action to stop the
Japanese Government's whaling program.
SENATOR IAN CAMPBELL: Governments don't take actions, legal actions or
otherwise because a lunatic in a boat goes down and rams ships in the
Southern Ocean. We make decisions on how we're going to try to stop whaling
based on the very best advice and our own assessments of the situation and
we've looked very closely at legal action, as has the New Zealand
Government. If we thought that legal action would stop whaling we would have
taken it already.
Dr KATE BARCLAY, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY: The political landscapes and the groups of people who are influential both within bureaucracy and
politics in Japan would have to change to a large extent for the Japanese
Government to decide that it was a good idea to abandon whaling and that,
environmentally, whaling is a bad thing.
MICK BUNWORTH: Dr Kate Barclay is with Sydney University of Technology's
Department of Japanese Studies. She says the confrontations in the Southern
Ocean don't appear to be making much of an impact in the Japanese media.
Dr KATE BARCLAY: I suspect part of it is just to do with the nature of the
Japanese media, where journalists tend to pick up on articles that are
released in Government media releases and it could be that the ministries
just aren't putting out media releases on this issue and aren't encouraging
journalists to follow up on it. I think it also is true to say, though, that
most Japanese people are very unaware of whaling issues and there's probably
not a high level of public interest.
MICK BUNWORTH: Japan's ambassador to Australia declined the 7:30 Report's
request for an interview today, so it's difficult to gauge how the Japanese
Government is reacting to threats against its whaling fleet.
CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON: The fact is that the Japanese do understand
confrontation, and we do have a reputation in Japan. They call us the
'samurai conservation organisation'. So I think we have a respect there,
SENATOR IAN CAMPBELL: He is a rogue pirate on the seas, and he's bringing
the cause of whale conservation into massive international disrepute.
MICK BUNWORTH: So could the reputation of Greenpeace - which does not
support deliberate ramming - suffer as a result of Sea Shepherd's actions?
STEVE SHALLHORNE: There may be a danger of the public confusing one
organisation with the other. But Greenpeace, we're very confident that our
core value of being non-violent is well understood by politicians and by the
public and so we're going to maintain what we do and we're doing our best to
stop whaling, both in the Southern Ocean, in Japan and also in the
diplomatic sphere, at the International Whaling Commission, and we're the
only organisation that works on all three fronts.
CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON: Greenpeace is severely limited in what they can do. Our
crew isn't going to sit around and watch whales being killed. We're down
here to enforce the law, not to protest what the Japanese are doing.
MICK BUNWORTH: None of which looks likely to deter the Japanese from hunting