Since 1986, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been officially banned from attending the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meetings. The reason for this expulsion is that we sank half of the Icelandic whaling fleet’s vessels in Reykjavik Harbor in November of 1986.
Every few years, Sea Shepherd Founder and President Captain Paul Watson sends a letter to the secretary of the IWC requesting re-instatement of our non-governmental organization (NGO) observer status at the meetings…and every time, the request is predictably rejected.
Earlier this year in July, Sea Shepherd sent another such request prior to the IWC meeting in Jersey. Just this week, we received a reply and as expected, it was another rejection. This time the reason given was our interference with the Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We are actually quite proud of the fact that this marks the 25th year that Sea Shepherd has enjoyed the designation of being a banned NGO from the IWC meetings.
It means we are still pushing the envelope, that after a quarter of a century we remain more controversial and effective than ever, and that we remain on the frontlines and on the cutting edge of whale conservation efforts around the world.
Although we are not allowed to officially attend the gathering, Sea Shepherd remains the focus of numerous meetings, debates, and heated words inside the IWC conference rooms. This year, Sea Shepherd supporters dominated the streets in Jersey where the meeting was held, sending more volunteers to Jersey than all other NGO representatives combined.
Sea Shepherd is the group most reviled, most criticized, and most condemned by the whaling nations and their bought-and-paid-for pro-whaling puppet nations. Even going so far as having Antigua’s whaling commissioner refer to Sea Shepherd in the meeting (in a thick West Indian accent) as “An abomination deserving of condemnation.”
The fact is that we enjoy being called names and being attacked by whaling nations and their puppet supporters because it means that we must be doing something they don’t like – like shutting down their illegal whaling activities for example.
Therefore, this recent letter of refusal for re-admittance to attend the IWC meetings marks our 25th year of being officially banned from the IWC. This means that since the ban on commercial whaling was imposed in 1986 by the IWC itself, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been the most controversial, most aggressive, and most effective anti-whaling organization in the world.
The whalers hate us and call us pirates, eco-terrorists, vigilantes, and well, quite a few unrepeatable names as well, but we can handle that as long as we are saving cetacean lives as the only organization in the world that actually enforces IWC regulations. And being the only organization in the world to be banned by the IWC is a mark of distinction in our eyes – it means we are doing something they don’t like.
At the last meeting in 2011, the IWC condemned Sea Shepherd’s efforts in the Southern Ocean when we sent the Japanese whaling fleet home a month and a half early and prevented them from taking 83% of their kill quota.
“This is not how it should be done,” said Greenpeace spokesperson John Frizell, “there can be no excuse for Sea Shepherd’s violent tactics against the whalers. The Sea Shepherd approach is simply unacceptable.”
In response to Frizell, Captain Watson replied, “Tell it to the whales we saved John, tell it to the whales!”