The following media release has been issued by the Japan Whaling Association. Captain Watson has inserted his responses:
Press Release from Japan Whaling Association
HEADLINE: WHALERS' GROUP CALLS FOR PORT CLOSURES
The Japan Whaling Association (JWA) today called on the Australian and New Zealand governments to close their ports to a Dutch vessel committing criminal acts in the Antarctic.
Captain Paul Watson: Japan is once again attempting to use political and economic muscle to attempt to persuade our flag nation of the Netherlands to pull our flag and for Australian and New Zealand ports to be closed to Sea Shepherd ships.
Australian and New Zealand ports are presently closed to Japanese whaling vessels and not Sea Shepherd vessels for the very good reason that Japanese whaling activities are illegal in the Southern Ocean and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has not committed a single criminal offense. Sea Shepherd has not damaged any Japanese property, injured any Japanese whalers nor have we committed any violations. After five voyages of interference there has not been one criminal charge brought against Sea Shepherd nor has Sea Shepherd been sued. Calling us criminals has no legal foundation and merely is an attempt to distract from the fact that Japanese whalers are targeting endangered whales in an established international whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling. This is in contempt of an Australian Federal Court ruling prohibiting whaling in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The President of the JWA, Mr. Keiichi Nakajima, said the Dutch vessel committing terror on the Antarctic high seas is running low on fuel and is apparently heading to either New Zealand or Australia to refuel.
Captain Paul Watson: The only terror being committed in these waters is the cruel and illegal slaughter of whales in violation of international conservation law.
"The request for port entry from the Sea Shepherd-Animal Planet crew on board the Dutch vessel must be rejected," he said, "otherwise these countries will be complicit in any further attacks."
Captain Paul Watson: I don't think that the people of Australia or New Zealand consider themselves vassals to the Japanese economic empire. Both Australia and New Zealand condemn Japanese whaling in the Southern port and both nations have banned Japanese whaling vessels from entry to their ports because of their criminal whaling activities.
"We know there are different views on whaling around the world. But the actions of the Sea Shepherd crew committing violence under the Dutch flag are no longer a whaling issue, but an issue of human life and safety at sea."
Captain Paul Watson: The only violence in these waters is the viciously cruel harpooning of defenseless sentient beings - the great whales. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has not committed a single act of violence. The whalers and the Japanese government on the other hand have fired live bullets and thrown concussion grenades. The extent of Sea Shepherd's actions has been to toss rotten butter and slime onto the decks of the whalers to hinder their illegal activities. We have slimed them, we have turned their decks into stink holes but we have not hurt any whaler nor have we damaged any property and we have not rammed these illegal whaling ships.
Since the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was established in 1977 we have never caused a single injury to a single person, we have never been convicted of a felony, and we have never been sued. Sea Shepherd exercises extreme caution to avoid causing injury and we have an unblemished safety record without even an accidental incident.
"We can never accept people resorting to violence and intimidation to get across their point," Mr Nakajima said.
Captain Paul Watson: The history of Japan contradicts that statement and Japan has violently defended their illegal activities with bullets and concussion grenades and they have rammed our ships. Japan has intimidated nations with trade threats unless they vote to support whaling at the IWC meetings. Japanese diplomacy is based on intimidation.
"This ship proudly says it is from the Netherlands. They display the Rotterdam home port on the stern of the Steve Irwin. The Sea Shepherd- Animal Planet crew aboard the Dutch vessel has no qualms about using the Dutch registry to facilitate their eco-terrorism at sea."
Captain Paul Watson: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society along with the government of the Netherlands condemns terrorism and illegal poaching of endangered whales from an established whale sanctuary. Animal Planet is on board strictly in the capacity of non-partial observers to document events. Japan of course is upset that the television series Whale Wars is exposing their illegal and ruthless activities to the world.
The use of the word "terrorist" is getting overplayed. It seems these days that it does not matter if one is defending whales or running for President of the United States, the opposition is always quick to trot out the word "terrorist" to condemn their critics.
Last season, this Dutch vessel tried to disable the propellers of Japan's research vessels. If they were successful, the vessel would become a "dead ship", and would be in danger of overturning in rough seas. The Dutch maritime and legal authorities must live up to their international obligations to maintain safety at sea.
Captain Paul Watson: There was absolutely no attempt to foul the props of any "research" ship last season. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has not seen any research ships down in these waters. We have only observed whaling vessels involved in illegal activities. If the international community, especially the signatories to the IWC, would uphold their responsibility to enforce international conservation law to protect the whales, we would not have to be down here attempting to do so as a non-governmental organization.
"The Sea Shepherd terror acts are far beyond mere protest."
Captain Paul Watson: We agree with this statement. We are not down in these remote waters to protest whaling. We are here to uphold international conservation law against illegal whaling activities. We never protest. We specialize in opposing criminal poaching activity. We are not a protest organization; we are an anti-poaching organization that works to intervene to uphold international conservation law.
"The International Whaling Commission has unanimously condemned the actions by the Sea Shepherd-Animal Planet crew and Australia and New Zealand put their names to the statement. To secure safety at sea for all, we urge both governments to reject Sea Shepherd's request to berth in Australia or New Zealand," Mr Nakajima said.
Captain Paul Watson: The International Whaling Commission has also voted to condemn the so called scientific whaling activities of the Japanese whaling industry. If the IWC wishes to condemn the whalers and do nothing, than we expect them to condemn us and do nothing. Sea Shepherd would not be down here if the IWC was enforcing their regulations. The day that the IWC enforces their laws is the day that Sea Shepherd will retire from this field.
See Statement on Safety at Sea, website of the International Whaling Commission:
For interviews, contact JWA spokesperson +64 21 890 868