The 58th Annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ended today in St. Kitts & Nevis.
In brief the whales did not lose any ground this year despite efforts by Japan to bribe as many small needy nations as possible to join the IWC.
Togo arrived two days late for the meeting to pay their membership fees. The money was in a brown paper bag - $13,000 in Japanese Yen. Togo and Japan both insist that Togo's decision to join the IWC and to vote for Japan's pro-whaling initiatives are independent positions by Togo without influence from Japan.
The Japanese certainly seem to think the rest of the world is just plain dumb.
The most dramatic protest at this year's event was Dolphin defender Ric O'Barry of One Voice from France who silently walked through the Marriott Hotel where the meeting was held with a television screen hanging fromhis neck displaying a video of the horrific dolphin slaughter at Taiji, Japan.
It was a peaceful protest but despite that he was later hustled out of his hotel room in the dead of night by St. Kit's police, threatened with physical violence and ordered to leave the country.
In their discussion about non-governmental organizations posing a threat to whaling, the IWC deliberately did not mention the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society by name. Instead we were referred to as that organization that is banned from the IWC.
Japan showed up with 54 delegates along with a contingent of bought and paid for delegates from tiny nation states around the world. For the prostitute nations it was a no-brainer. All they had to do was vote yes on every Japanese resolution. It was a simple vote yes, get wined and dined, vote yes, have lunch, vote yes, lie out by the pool, vote yes and go have some drinks. The Japanese even provided local girls for some horizontal entertainment. All expenses paid. Easy inside work, no heavy lifting, and they did not even have to think, but then again being politicians, it is what they all do normally anyhow.
New Zealand and Australia were betrayed and embarrassed by Pacific Island nations that voted for Japan despite receiving large aid packages from New Zealand. Japan ties their aid to specific conditions like supporting whaling and New Zealand does not and this is a credit to New Zealand on the surface but is viewed upon as being naive by Japan. With New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Palau can have their cake and eat it also. They can also cut slices from the Japanese cake but with conditions. Why choose between both when one does not mind you eating the other's cake.
If New Zealand is really serious about saving the whales they should cut off all foreign aid to these six island nations. If they wish to support whaling then Japan should support them and New Zealand should transfer aid to nations that support marine conservation. Kenya, Costa Rica, and Peru could use some help and if they had the assistance from pro-whale nations that the other nations get from Japan, they would have been in St. Kitts voting to help save the whales.
Murray McCully of the New Zealand National Party also called Prime Minister Helen Clark naive and said that Conservation Minister Chris Carter should be replaced with a minister interested in "counting heads rather than sunbathing".
"In spite of the so-called special relationship New Zealand enjoys with the Pacific states, Japan has marched in and bought the votes of nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomon's from under our noses," McCully said.
The Pacific countries which voted with Japan received around $25 million in aid from New Zealand this year.
The Solomon's, at $18m, is New Zealand's biggest bilateral aid recipient and scores of Kiwi troops are serving there as part of an international security force.
"The fact that Japan received the votes of some nations that Chris Carter thought were committed to the anti-whaling cause raises serious questions about his competence as our lead negotiator," McCully said.
"The fact that the Clark government has actually created special Pacific access quotas, giving Tuvalu and Kiribati citizens privileged treatment for immigration into New Zealand, makes the defection of those two states doubly annoying."
Environment Minister Carter did not respond to McCully and found himself in a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. On one hand he is being accused of being wimpy by rival political opponents and on the other he is being called an extremist by the whalers.
The pro-whaling High North Alliance secretary Rune Frovik said the New Zealand IWC delegation's "extremist" anti-whaling stance meant it was no longer being taken seriously by the commission and was fast becoming irrelevant. "My point is simply that if we are to work out a compromise solution, then we must be on the same planet," Frovik said.
"The problem with New Zealand is that it is not. It is on a completely different planet."
The problem with Rune Frovik is that he is an advocate of sadistic slaughter and should not be on the same planet as the whales.
New Zealand and Australia have vowed to become more aggressive in their defense of the whales.
Sea Shepherd does support and applaud the efforts of both New Zealand and Australia and encourages them to become more aggressive in their defense of the whales. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society believes that whale defending nations must take a strong diplomatic stance in defense of the whales and that includes cutting foreign aid to nations supporting whaling.
They should also make an effort to uphold international conservation law against illegal whaling activities and they should physically intercept and order the Japanese whaling fleet out of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and out of the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone. What part of the word Exclusion do they not understand?
In response to being labeled a threat to the whalers, Greenpeace responded that they are not a threat and that they are merely spectators and bearing witness to atrocity is not threatening.
The position of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is that yes, damn right, we are a threat. We have been a threat to whaling for three decades and we intend to continue to be a threat.
Whaling is an illegal activity and the votes at the IWC this year confirm the illegality of Japanese, Norwegian and Icelandic whaling.
Captain Paul Watson said that he does indeed threaten to uphold the law against illegal whaling activities.
The Caribbean nations are looking at threats of an international tourism boycott of the islands that endorse whaling.
There are plenty of islands in the Caribbean to choose from. It is no great sacrifice to avoid the nations that support the slaughter of whales like Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua.
Divers, sailors, sun and rum lovers on the whole are also whale lovers and those dollars with a little persuasion can go to other more humane nations where the governments have not sold out their principles to the Japanese.
In Brisbane anti-whaling protestors stormed the Japanese Consulate.
Ten Greenpeace protesters arrived at the IWC meeting after the meetings ended and proceeded to plant a banner on the beach. They were promptly arrested by St. Kitts police for illegal entry into the country.
Whaling and pro-whaling nations are running around excitedly crowing about the non-binding resolution carried by one vote to condemn the moratorium on whaling and to condemn anti-whaling groups as a threat. The resolution also accused the whales of eating too much fish thus exposing the ridiculous perspective that Japan and allies are displaying at these meetings.
Bottom line for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is that whaling in the Southern Oceans continues to be illegal and we will continue to oppose it and that means we have the legal right in accordance with the U.N. World Charter for Nature to once again intercept the pirate Japanese whalers in the Southern Oceans.