Sea Shepherd Prepares to Defend the Whales
Japan has been ruthless in their pursuit and massacre of the world's great whales. It has become a matter of honor according to some Japanese to kill as many whales as they can in order to assert their dominance over the world's oceans.
According to Joji Morishita of the Japanese Fisheries Agency, who spoke on the Australian program 60 minutes, the killing of whales is a part of Japan's identity and a question of national pride. He asks, what is a nation without pride?
But surely they would not exterminate the whales. Or would they?
Back in 1997 Captain Paul Watson had the opportunity to sit down and speak with members of the Japanese delegation in Monaco.
His answer was shocking. "No," he said. "My duty is to my family, my country, and my company and that duty is to make as much profit as I can for them today. I am not concerned with future generations. They will have to find ways to survive just as we must find ways to survive today."
Captain Watson then asked if he was concerned that the whales would go extinct. "They may go extinct but that is not my concern. My concern is to realize the maximum profit from them before they do."
This echoes the sentiments of Andrew Behr, the owner of the pirate whaler Sierra, which Captain Watson rammed and disabled on July 16, 1979 and sank on February 6th, 1980.
Behr said that he was aware that whales could be driven to extinction and if they were going to go extinct then why not make as much profit from them before they do.
The Japanese hold whale conservationists in contempt. They see anyone opposed to whaling as standing in the way of their illicit profits.
Since 1986, Japan has been killing whales in violation of the global moratorium on whaling. Each year they have illegally upped the kill quotas and during the last two decades that the whales have been "protected" more than 17,000 whales have been slaughtered.
The International Whaling Commission has done very little to stop the carnage. The IWC has great regulations but non-existent enforcement. The member nations of the IWC like Australia and the United States have been reluctant to enforce sanctions for fear of trade retaliations by Japan.
The fact remains that Japanese and Norwegian whaling is illegal and if nothing else the regulations of the International Whaling Commission have served to give legitimacy to Sea Shepherd efforts to oppose outlaw whaling since 1986.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been the only enforcement agency, governmental or non-governmental, defending the whales over the last 20 years beginning with our sinking of half the Icelandic whaling fleet in November 1986 to the scuttling of illegal Norwegian whalers dockside in 1992, 1994 and 1998. This year we harassed and pursued the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. We did not commit any crimes with our intervention because we were enforcing international conservation law in accordance with the provisions of the U.N. World Charter for Nature, which allows for non-governmental organizations to intervene in order to uphold international conservation law.
For this reason, there have been no criminal charges brought against Sea Shepherd crew for these interventions. Criminals are reluctant to retaliate with the law, especially when such retaliation would further expose and provide documentation and evidence of the illegal activities that Sea Shepherd is intervening against.
Japan is now seeking to change the laws protecting whales by working to overturn the IWC global moratorium on whaling. And they are succeeding.
For the last few years Japan has been using foreign aid to seduce and then recruit small poor nations to join the IWC.
These nations then have their IWC memberships paid by Japan and, like little Japanese fiefdoms, they vote as they are told and they are being told to vote for the resumption of whaling and to back Japanese objectives 100%.
Last year, Japan succeeded in recruiting an equal number of votes as the whale conservation nations. This year they have surpassed that number and they now hold the majority.
Japan just this week announced that the Marshall Islands and Cambodia will vote with Japan at next weeks IWC meeting in St. Kitts on June 16-20th.
Japan now has 36 votes among the 69 member nations of the IWC.
The first thing Japan intends to do is call for a vote to scrap the IWC's conservation committee.
The conservation committee was set up in 2003 to study measures to preserve whales.
In other words, Japan and their 35 puppet nations are opposed to taking measures to preserve the whales.
Japan also intends to call for a vote on a resolution supporting its "research" whaling in the Antarctic Ocean and anywhere else in the world it decides to kill whales
What does this mean for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?
It means Sea Shepherd must stop the Japanese fleet in Antarctica this year while the moratorium is in effect. In addition to violating the moratorium, the Japanese fleet will be violating the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) by targeting 50 endangered Humpback and 50 endangered Fin whales.
Japan will also be violating the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and the Australian Antarctic Territory Economic Exclusion Zone. In addition, Japan will be in violation of United States Department of Commerce regulations.
This means that despite whatever gains Japan wins at the IWC meeting in St. Kitts, their whaling operations will continue to be illegal, and thus Sea Shepherd can continue to legitimately intervene against illegal whaling operations.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is presently recruiting volunteers and preparing a ship to intervene once again against illegal whaling in the Southern Oceans in December 2006 and January 2007.
Last year, the Japanese fleet was opposed by the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat and Japanese whaling operations were documented by the Greenpeace ships Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise.
Greenpeace will not be returning to Antarctic waters this year, leaving the Sea Shepherd crew to tackle the whalers alone.
"These whalers are criminals," said Captain Paul Watson. "They are no different than ivory smugglers and drug traffickers. We must once again intervene against their illegal operations and our objective must be to stop them from their plans to slaughter these magnificent and endangered creatures."
Captain Watson expects the campaign to be expensive and dangerous and he expects the Japanese whalers to be hostile to any interference.