In November, the ruthless killers of the whales of Antarctica will depart from Japan to the cheers of those who delight and profit in the sadistic slaughter of the gentle giants of the deep.
Now, in Melbourne, the Farley Mowat is being prepared. The Sea Shepherd helicopter is being serviced and volunteer crewmembers are being recruited and trained. In the Caribbean our second ship, the faster Leviathan, is being prepared for the long trans-Pacific voyage to Australia where she will join the Farley Mowat for a scheduled December 2nd from Melbourne.
Both ships will head south to the remote and hostile shores of Antarctica in search of the Japanese whaling fleet.
The objective of the Sea Shepherd expedition is to uphold international conservation law in accordance with the principles established by the United Nations World Charter for Nature.
But Sea Shepherd will also be upholding Australian law because 9 out of every 10 whales killed last year by Japan were slain in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
At the end of this year, Japan will be targeting 850 Antarctic piked (Minke) whales, 50 endangered humpbacks and 50 endangered fin whales. Again 90% of the whales that are targeted will be in the Australian Whale Sanctuary.
"The killing of whales by Japan in the Australian sanctuary is in clear breach of International Whaling Commission policy," said Senator Ian Campbell, Australia's Minister of the Environment.
"They are not only killing large numbers of whales, they are wiping out the next generation," Senator Campbell said. "It is inhumane and it should not be tolerated."
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society agrees 100% with Senator Campbell. "It should not be tolerated and it will not be tolerated" responded Captain Paul Watson. "The Japanese whalers have been recognized as criminals by the government of Australia. We recognize them as a criminal operation and criminal operations are dealt with by aggressive intervention. My crew is prepared to take the necessary risks to sail into harm's way to uphold international conservation law to save endangered whales from pirate whalers. This is a clear case of justifiable intervention against a criminal operation."
Strangely, the government of Australia is opposing the legal action by the Humane Society International in the Australian Federal Court against the Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku. The suit seeks to force Canberra to take action to stop Japanese whaling in the sanctuary.
Senator Campbell said the Government will tell the court that Australia is powerless to physically prevent the whaling. "I don't believe this court action is the most effective way of achieving the goal of ending whaling," he said.
This of course begs the question: Just what sort of effective action does the Australian government support?
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society expects that the Australian government will oppose high seas interventionist actions as well.
"We are not influenced by trade issues like the Australian government is," said Captain Watson. "Anthropologist and former Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member the late Margaret Mead once told me that we should never depend on governments to seriously intervene to initiate change. Governments are usually the problem and not the solution. Dr. Mead said that history has demonstrated that change is initiated by the passion of individuals. That is what is needed here and now - non-governmental action by compassionate individuals who seriously want to stop the slaughter of the whales"
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does regard the government of Australia as an ally along with all the other nations that voted against whaling at the last meeting of the International Whaling Commission in St. Kitts and Nevis.
"We appreciate what Senator Campbell has said and done, we really do," said Captain Watson. "We understand that he has restrictions placed on him by the reality of economics and politics. We don't ask that he supports us, we just ask that he refrain from attacking us and agree to disagree with Sea Shepherd tactics if he wishes, but to recognize that we have the same objectives."
"We also hold the same position with respect to the Greenpeace Foundation," continued Captain Watson. "We want Greenpeace to send two ships to the Sanctuary. They may not want us down there but we want them there. The whales need every bit of support they can get and although Greenpeace remains hostile to Sea Shepherd, we at Sea Shepherd understand that strength lies in diversity."