The 59th International Whaling Commission Meeting
Anchorage, Alaska

Report from Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd

I have not attended a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) since 1997. I only did so then as a special invited guest of His Highness Prince Albert of Monaco because the 50th meeting was hosted in that great little nation and that was exactly a decade ago.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has, in fact, been officially prohibited from attending the IWC meetings since 1987 after Iceland protested against Sea Shepherd's enforcement of the global moratorium on commercial whaling in November 1986 when we sank half the Icelandic whaling fleet at dockside in Reykjavik harbour, an action for which we have absolutely no apologies.

And it appears that our actions from two decades ago are still very much clearly remembered.

So, it was just mildly surprising that, after strolling into the lobby of the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, the management ordered me to leave the premises or face immediate arrest for criminal trespass. Their reasoning was my "history of disrupting IWC meetings."

I admit we have disrupted whaling operations on the high seas but this was a new twist. Since I had only attended one prior meeting in the last two decades and I had never disrupted a single meeting, I was of course surprised at this revelation.

But, they were not taking any chances, and the order was backed up by a 24-man police SWAT team complete with rooftop snipers. I was flattered to say the least.

The police were friendly, however, and my fellow comrade-in-expulsion Ric O'Barry and I held court on the sidewalk under the watchful eyes of the Anchorage police officers and snipers. We all drank designer coffee and exchanged pleasantries between media interviews. I promised to send all the officers Sea Shepherd pirate hats and we did.

Protests were somewhat low-key this year - certainly a far cry from the early eighties when Japanese whaling delegates were routinely showered in blood by protestors and giant whale balloons were paraded in the streets.

However, Australia demonstrated their concerns in the personage of three young women, a world class surfer, a whale artist, and a genuine professional mermaid.

The three young women - Skye Bortoli, Caitlyn Frerk, and Ayesha Future - founded the organization Teens Against Whaling. They raised their own funds to travel to Alaska to deliver 40,000 petition names with an appeal to the Japanese to spare Australia's humpback whales.

World class surfing champion Dave Rastovich arrived with his wife Hannah Fraser, a professional mermaid model from Australia, to include the IWC in a film they are making about the whales and dolphins. And Byron Bay, Australia, artist Howie Cooke erected his tepee and displayed his painted banners supporting the world's whales.

American artist and Sea Shepherd supporter Peggy Oki was also in Anchorage. She hung 30,000 origami whales to represent the 30,000 whales slaughtered since the moratorium on whaling was imposed in 1986. It was an impressive display.

Greenpeace had set up a tent with the strange name of Whale Broadcasting Corporation and a banner that said Stop Commercial Whaling. This was to show they had nothing against aboriginal or coastal whaling by Japanese whaling villages. When I visited their tent, I found the atmosphere was so decidedly chilly that I left quite quickly - hey, I know when I'm not welcome.

Meanwhile inside the hotel, Ric and I were not missing much in the way of substantial progress and witty dialogue. The sidewalk outside was more interesting as we conversed with the "insiders" as they came and went.

On the first day of the meeting, the pro-whaling and anti-whaling factions pretended to be the best of friends. This soon turned sour when it became apparent that Japan was attempting to use their intent to slaughter fifty endangered humpbacks as an extortionist ploy to open up commercial Japanese coastal whaling operations.

The Japanese said they were quite willing to take their quota of fifty Antarctic humpbacks off the table in return for permission to have Japanese coastal villages kill whales. They said that since Alaskan natives were allowed to kill whales, they should be also. The difference, of course, was between subsistence hunting by the Inuit and Yupik and commercial hunting by the Japanese - a very notable distinction that would open up commercial whaling activities in breach of the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

The pro-whaling nations were having none of it and voted the Japanese request down.
But then they gave a quota of 20 humpbacks to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and applauded when the announcement of this quota was awarded.

Now, I can see the Japanese getting a little upset about this. There is nothing aboriginal about the slaughter of whales by the whale killing thugs of St. Vincent. The whalers are not natives, but rather the descendents of plantation slaves. They are also known to use exceptionally cruel methods to kill their innocent victims. They also sell the whale meat in public restaurants and stalls, so it is in fact also commercial.

It was great news, however, when Japanese "research" whaling was condemned once again by a vote of forty to two.

Brazil then proposed the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, but it was voted down by vote of 39 for and 29 against with two abstentions (because it required a 75% majority, it did not pass).

The only thing the delegates could agree on unanimously was condemning the efforts of Sea Shepherd to protect the whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.

Japan and New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution to condemn Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace actions in the Southern Oceans. It was a one-sided debate. The Japanese presented their "evidence" that Sea Shepherd had rammed their vessels but Sea Shepherd was not allowed to present our side of the affair despite the fact that an Australian Federal Police forensic team has investigated the incident and the results of the investigation backed the Sea Shepherd position that it was the Japanese vessel that rammed the Sea Shepherd vessel. Hell, if we had rammed them we would have proudly said so.

The Caribbean Japanese-controlled puppet nations rose one after another to energetically condemn Sea Shepherd and went so far as to blame Sea Shepherd interventions for the death of the Japanese whaler who died in the February fire that swept through the bowels of the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru. Sea Shepherd was about a thousand miles away when that fire broke out.

Not much was said about the fact that an unsafe Japanese floating factory filled with chemicals and fuel oil had presented a clear and dangerous threat to the largest Adelie penguin colony in Antarctica. Nor did anyone point out that this was the second time the Nisshin Maru had suffered a major catastrophic fire in the last 10 years.

As the distortions and lies were voiced, not one voice rose in protest to defend the truth, and all the delegates both pro-whale and pro-whaling agreed on one thing and that was to enthusiastically condemn Sea Shepherd for its actions in attempting to uphold the IWC regulations by actually protecting the whales of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.

The way the Caribbean whale-killing nations were presenting it, reading from the Japanese script, of course, is that any nation that did not vote to condemn Sea Shepherd would be endorsing the murder of a whaler by Sea Shepherd. Condolences were expressed to the family of the "victim." Crocodile tears were flowing and the delegates were becoming righteously indignant that Sea Shepherd extremism had killed a human being.

Finally, the United Kingdom spoke up to remind the delegates that the death of the whaler had not a thing to do with Sea Shepherd interventions and that the Sea Shepherd ships were hundreds of miles away when the fire broke out. Despite this, United Kingdom joined in consensus with all the member nations to condemn Sea Shepherd nonetheless.

I wish that some of that angry indignation could have been directed at Japan for their callous and cruel murder of the hundreds of intelligent, socially complex sentient beings that we call whales.

The melodrama did demonstrate that if nothing else Sea Shepherd was instrumental in getting all the member nations to agree on at least one thing. And that thing, is that it is okay to talk about saving whales but it is not okay to actually go out and physically do something about saving whales. In other words conversation, "yes," and conservation, "no."

But what does the condemnation mean? The IWC also condemned the Japanese intent to kill a thousand more whales in Antarctica but the Japanese intend to go ahead and do so anyway. And therefore, Sea Shepherd also intends to return to Antarctica to save whales again from illegal Japanese whaling operations.

Since Sea Shepherd was not allowed to be in the room when the New Zealand and Japanese resolution was passed to condemn Sea Shepherd and we were not allowed to present a defence and the IWC has not officially informed us of the condemnation then we can simply do what the Japanese whalers do and that is to ignore the IWC and go about doing what we do anyway. I think we'll call it the Sea Shepherd Whaler Harassment Research Project. The object is to discover what types of non-violent research tactics will best disrupt illegal whaling activities.

If Japan is condemned by the IWC for killing whales in Antarctic waters and they can do nothing to stop them from killing whales, then logically, the IWC should not be able to stop Sea Shepherd from intervening against the illegal killing of whales.

The IWC has already demonstrated that they are a toothless organization. Sea Shepherd has long suggested that the IWC must evolve from an organization that manages the whaling industry to an organization that protects and conserves whale populations. In fact, all of the efforts of the IWC should go towards regulating whale watching, whale sanctuaries, and dealing with threats to the survival of the whales like pollution, habitat destruction, harassment, and slaughter. The IWC should also be a body that protects small cetaceans like dolphins, pilot whales, and orcas.

Whaling has no place in the 21st Century. Sea Shepherd is opposed to all whaling by any people, anywhere, for any reason. However, we only intervene against whaling operations that are illegal under international conservation law and this includes violations of IWC regulations.

Yet, because we are the only organization that has ever actually enforced IWC regulations, this makes us the only organization to be banned from attending the IWC meetings.

It was amusing indeed to see the pirate whaling nations of the Caribbean endorse the Japanese condemnation of Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace as pirates. Greenpeace indignantly protested the label but Sea Shepherd embraces the Jolly Roger because only pirates motivated by compassion will be able to intervene against the pirate whalers of profit. If the governments of the world refuse to do anything it means pirates vs. pirates upon the high seas, and our ships and our vegetarian volunteers are committed to the fight to save whales from slaughter and extinction from the remorseless and brutally evil piracy of the harpooners and perverse whale flesh eaters.

More lunacy followed when the IWC voted to give Denmark permission to kill 25 more piked (Minke) whales for a total of 200 off Greenland plus permission to murder 2 bowheads. Forty nations voted yes and only 11 voted no for 78%. This passed because the hunt is supposedly aboriginal but it was strange to see pro-whale nations voting to kill whales again. Denmark's original demand to kill 10 humpbacks was refused.

The meeting did take its human toll with Germany's Commissioner collapsing during a meeting and the Japanese Minister of Agriculture committing suicide on the first day of the meeting. The Minister killed himself before Japan was totally humiliated at the meeting, thus was spared the additional dishonour of having his team fail to achieve their murderous goals in Anchorage.

The moral victory of last year's meeting when Japan secured a single vote majority to overturn the commercial moratorium was overturned with the addition of new pro-whale members joining. Sea Shepherd brought Ecuador to the table to vote against Japan and her puppet Caribbean nations.

The meeting ended with a Japanese hissy fit when the Japanese delegation took back the invitation for the 2009 meeting to be held in Yokahama. In withdrawing the invitation, Japan was hinting that they may once again be considering dropping out of the IWC meetings. The 2009 meeting will be held on the Portuguese island of Madiera instead, to the relief of many delegates. Maybe Sea Shepherd will be able to attend again in 2009.

Next year, the meeting will be held in Santiago, Chile.

Will Japan quit the IWC? It is hard to say, they have been threatening to quit for the last 20 years. Maybe this time they really, really mean it. We shall see.

Sea Shepherd would welcome a Japanese withdrawal from the IWC. It would move the IWC towards becoming a global whale conservation organization and it would render the Japanese whaling fleet as clearly renegade and distinctly outlawed, which would make our efforts to intervene against their illegal activities more acceptable.

At the non-governmental organization reception, both dolphin defender Ric O'Barry and I were allowed to attend. The Greenpeacers ignored us and pretended we did not exist, and other NGO's approached us to request that we not take our ship to Iceland because it would make the Icelanders angry. We had to gently remind them that our clients are the whales and Icelanders killing them makes us angry.

All in all, I found that I had not missed much by not attending the IWC meetings over the last ten years. It was the same old, same old. Mucho talk and little action.

All I know is that the moratorium against Antarctic whaling stands and so-called "research whaling" by Japan in the Antarctic Whaling Sanctuary was condemned and, therefore, we have once again been given a clear mandate by the IWC to return to the remote waters of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary to once again hunt down, intervene, harass, and oppose the continued illegal whaling activities by the Japanese whaling fleet.

Sea Shepherd will be tackling the Japanese whalers again beginning in December 2007 and the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat will be intervening against illegal Icelandic whaling this summer.

So with the drama, nonsense, bureaucratic lunacy, and blabber fest finished for another year, I boarded an Alaskan Airlines flight to Seattle. There I was seated across from Wayne Johnson, the man who killed a baby gray whale with a .50-calibre gun back in 1999.

In fact, the entire Makah whaling delegation was on the plane.

Wayne said to me that I should come to the reservation at Neah Bay and speak to him sometime soon. I told him that I would. I have nothing against the Makah nation, but I am honour bound to defend the whales against their killers. The Makah will not be killing a whale in the near future because the pro-whale faction has them tied up in the courts. So, perhaps it might be worthwhile to finally visit the Makah Nation as a representative of the whales and speak about their right to live unharmed upon this planet with us.

Perhaps Wayne Johnson, the whaler, and myself can communicate better than the gang of fumbling bureaucrats and compromisers that we saw in Anchorage last week. Certainly we can't do any worse.

One thing I do know is that Wayne and I share one thing in common that the IWC gang does not have, and that is that we both have a passion for whales. Whales are not just pieces of product from stocks to be harvested for us. To Wayne, the whale is an animal to be hunted for the cultural benefit of his tribe. I understand, but do not accept that. For me, the whale is to be saved for the good of whalekind. Wayne may understand this but does not accept it.

But at least we both understand whales in ways those posturing suits in Anchorage never have and never will.


Sea Shepherd
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
In November 2015, Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians observed the captive cetaceans at Japan's Adventure World.Though this marine park has dolphins from Taiji, the suffering behind cetacean captivity looks much the same around the world. To learn how you can support Operation Henkaku and help us break t...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
The crew of Sea Shepherd's research sailing vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, sails in search of the smallest cetacean in the world, the endangered vaquita marina porpoise.
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
Join the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat as they prepare the ship to embark on its maiden Sea Shepherd campaign - Operation Milagro II, Fall 2015 Vaquita Porpoise Defense Campaign. With an estimated 97 individuals remaining, the endangered vaquita is facing the very real threat of extinction. Please ...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
The Vlog from the Gulf of California 01 - Turtle Rescue. Follow the crew of the Research Vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, as they patrol the upper Gulf of California in Mexico - to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world, the vaquita marina porpoise.
Taiji, Japan - Pilot whale tethered and drowned
Taiji, Japan - Pilot whale tethered and drowned
A wounded pilot whale, visibly bleeding and barely able to stay above the surface of the water, is tethered and drowned in the cove by Taiji's killers, after briefly escaping from under the tarps where its pod is being slaughtered.
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society returns to Mexico to protect the critically endangered vaquita marina in the only waters on Earth this petite porpoise calls home. Working in partnership with the Mexican government, Sea Shepherd will strive to bring about a miracle for the endangered vaquita before...
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
A look at Sea Shepherd Central America's journey of research and observation to Cocos Island, a world-renowned marine sanctuary located 350 miles offshore. The goal of the goodwill campaign is to promote awareness for the protection of species that inhabit the Central Pacific.
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Actor Gregg Lowe, star of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," discusses the importance of Sea Shepherd's work to protect the oceans, why he is vegan for the planet and for all species, and his desire to join a Sea Shepherd campaign to defend ocean wildlife on the frontlines. Video by: Reece Pickering
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians are gearing up for the sixth season of our Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign. As we return to the cove to expose the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales, stand with us! The dolphins need you! To volunteer as a Cove Guardian, please email groundcrew@s...
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
“We were one small boat and five bodies against 500 people on the beach and 50 boats pushing…but there’s no reason not to fight.” On August 12, 61 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beach of Sandavágur in the Faroe Islands. With the odds stacked against them, in the face of adve...
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Just feet from where they were attacked not a month before, Sea Shepherd's Operation Jairo volunteers defend a nesting leatherback turtle from poachers on Pacuare Beach in Costa Rica. All 63 eggs are now being protected in a hatchery, where they will have the best chance of survival out of the hands...
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
"They asked me, 'do you want cuffs' and I said 'Yes, it's better.' Because inside it was like an explosion.” Xavier is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet some of the Sea Shepherd volunteers in Honduras for Operation Jairo, Sea Shepherd's 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign! The crew hails from all over the world, from countries including the United States, Australia, Norway, and France. These volunteers work tirelessly to patrol the beaches in Hond...
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
“In the same way that they think they …. have the right to kill these animals, that are wild animals, I have exactly the same right to save them.” Marianna is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. ...
The Trial Begins
The Trial Begins
Video update from Tórshavn court this morning as five Sea Shepherd crewmembers stand trial for StandingUp for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands. Take action: http://www.seashepherd.org/standup250
Denmark's Shame
Denmark's Shame
The slaughter of cetaceans is outlawed throughout the European Union, including Denmark, in accordance with Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). However, in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of pilot whales and other small ce...
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
"We're just here ... to try to save lives." Christophe is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp250 for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands, and for Sea Shephe...
#StandUp250 South Africa - Rosie Kunneke
#StandUp250 South Africa - Rosie Kunneke
"Calling something a tradition doesn't make it right. I grew up in the tradition of apartheid and we begged the world to come and help us; to get rid of that ugliness." Rosie is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from...
Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. WARNING. GRAPHIC
Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. WARNING. GRAPHIC
WARNING: GRAPHIC. Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. Sea Shepherd Crew Arrested. On July 23 2015, approximately 250 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beaches of the Faroe Islands. The slaughters, known by the traditional Faroese term ‘grindadráp, took place in two se...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Costa Rica
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Costa Rica
Meet the team of dedicated volunteers working to protect nesting turtles and their hatchlings on the shores of Costa Rica as part of Operation Jairo, Sea Shepherd’s 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign. This international crew includes volunteers from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, th...
Operation Jairo 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign
Operation Jairo 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd launches Operation Jairo, second-annual sea turtle anti-poaching campaign in Costa Rica, Honduras and Florida. Credits and special thanks: Film by BlueMedia.no Music by Kai-Anders Ryan kaiandersryan.no Photos by Mélanie Chamorel melaniechamorel.com "Turtle in trouble" photo by Jordi C...
Sea Shepherd Captures Rare Footage of Elusive Vaquita During First Sighting since 2013
Sea Shepherd Captures Rare Footage of Elusive Vaquita During First Sighting since 2013
On April 18, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captured rare footage of the elusive and endangered vaquita porpoise in the waters of Mexico’s Gulf of California, the small cetacean’s only home on Earth. The sighting marks the first time since 2013 the shy creature has been spotted and filmed in ...
Strong Hearts, Iron Will – Sam Simon Crew Pays Tribute to the Late Sam Simon
Strong Hearts, Iron Will – Sam Simon Crew Pays Tribute to the Late Sam Simon
The Crew of Sea Shepherd's M/V Sam Simon pays tribute to the late activist, philanthropist, great humanitarian and TV Executive Sam Simon, thanking him for the wonderful ship he provided for them to save marine life in Antarctica and around the world. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is pro...
Sea Shepherd Does What Others Can't or Won't
Sea Shepherd Does What Others Can't or Won't
Sea Shepherd. Who are we? What do we do? Sea Shepherd is not just an organization. It’s a global movement. Volunteer crews boldly go where others can’t or won’t. Here’s a look at some highlights of some of our recent campaigns to defend, conserve and protect marine wildlife and habitats wo...
Sea Shepherd's Operation Infinite Patience: The Cove Guardians expose Taiji
Sea Shepherd's Operation Infinite Patience: The Cove Guardians expose Taiji
Melissa Sehgal and her Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian team highlight the daily atrocities that occur against much beloved, intelligent and social dolphins in Taiji, Japan for six months of each year.