Sea Shepherd Says It's Time to Enforce the Law

Japanese whaler harpoons minke whale 2009Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has confessed to what the rest of the world has known all along.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper and Australian Broadcasting Corporation Foreign Minister Okada said, "We have a tradition here in Japan of eating whale meat."

"I think food is an important element of culture and therefore there is a need to mutually respect and recognize each other's culture," he said.

"It might be that there is something Australians eat that the Japanese do not. Of course it would be a different story if those species were endangered species on the verge of extinction... But if not, I think the average Japanese would like to continue consuming whale meat into the future."

Not once did Mr. Okada attempt to justify Japanese whaling operations as "scientific research." He has made it very clear that this is a commercial operation and the objective is to kill whales for consumption and for profit. He even denied that Fin and Humpback whales are endangered despite international recognition that they are classified as endangered.

"This puts an entire new slant on our campaign this year," Captain Paul Watson said from on board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin in the Southern Ocean. "Japanese whalers are poachers and now even their Foreign Minister has admitted that this is a poaching operation. The Japanese government has given the whalers a permit to kill up to 935 protected Minke whales and 50 endangered Fin and 50 endangered Humpbacks."

"These whalers are poachers. They are criminals and they know it. They are also violating the Antarctic Treaty by commercially exploiting Antarctic waters and they are operating in contempt of the Australian Federal Court for continuing to kill whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory," Captain Watson continued.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not down in these waters to protest whaling because we simply "disagree" with it. We are down here to enforce international conservation law in accordance with the guidelines of the United Nations World Charter for Nature. The Society is down in these waters doing the job that Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the other member nations of the International Whaling Commission have refused to do - to enforce the law.

Sea Shepherd ships and crew will attempt to enforce international conservation law by stopping these illegal vessels in any way physically possible without threatening or causing injury to any human life.

"The charade of scientific research has been exposed as fraudulent by none other than the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs. I think it's time to create an international incident down here," said Captain Paul Watson. "Enough of these bump and scrape tactics, enough of the stink bombs. It's time for some more aggressive tactics. It's time to make a statement down here, and for governments to get involved. I'm tired of these poachers getting away with violating international conservation law and getting away with it because they are a big powerful wealthy nation. If they were Somali poachers killing elephants, they would be shot. If they were Nigerian or Rwandan tribesmen killing Mountain gorillas for bushmeat they would be shot. Instead they arrogantly buy their way out of respecting the law and they do whatever they choose wherever and whenever they choose. No more! Whaling is going to end down here and we intend to do our part to end it."

The Steve Irwin is closing in on the Japanese fleet. Every day brings the Sea Shepherd crew 300 miles closer to these poachers.

"This is not about culture or respect for culture," Said Captain Watson. "It's about respecting international conservation law. We have not been charged with a single violation for our activities down in these waters, not even by the Japanese. The reason for this is simple. It's difficult to charge people who are enforcing the law by protecting endangered species from poachers. We are not the criminals, the whalers are the poachers and now even their Foreign Minister has acknowledged this fact - its about killing and commercially selling whale meat for food. That is what it is about, and that is what it has always been about."

The Sea Shepherd crew anticipates intercepting the fleet within 10 to 12 days.

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