THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION HAS SPOKEN
The Berlin Initiative proposed by Australia, Austria, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, U.K., and the U.S. has passed.
It was carried with 25 countries voting in favor, 20 against, and 1 abstention.
What does this mean?
It means that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has taken the strongest stand in years to protect the world's whales.
It means that the IWC did not buckle under Japanese pressure to overturn the commercial whaling moratorium and it means that Japan was unable to bribe enough countries to carry the vote.
The 55th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Berlin will be long remembered as a milestone in whale conservation.
"The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has long upheld the regulations of the IWC," said Captain Paul Watson from the bridge of the anti-whaling intervention ship "Farley Mowat," berthed in Seattle. "These regulations have been our guidepost for enforcement measures. Every whaling ship that we have ever targeted and destroyed has been in blatant violation of IWC regulations. The IWC has been judge and jury, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been a force for enforcement of the rulings. This decision makes our job easier and will certainly justify continued intervention against international illegal whaling. This is a great day for the whales and a delightfully lousy day for the pirate whalers of Japan and Norway."
For years, the IWC has not been as effective as it should have been. Whale populations have diminished and many populations have been wiped out. The fight to conserve and protect the whales has been long, hard and bitter, but conservation is winning and exploitation is the deserved loser in today's decision.
The Berlin Initiative calls for the creation of a conservation committee to meet and organize future protection work on all species of whales and dolphins. The Initiative will address all threats to whales and dolphins, including hunting, entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, and collisions with shipping vessels.
Sea Shepherd's work is far from over.
"We anticipate an increase in illegal whaling and we expect the Japanese and the Norwegians to go renegade. If they do, we will aggressively intervene to uphold international conservation law against their illegal activities," said Captain Watson.
When asked if this meant sinking whaling ships, Watson replied, "We don't sink whaling ships, and we never have sunk whaling ships. We have sunk and we will continue to sink pirate whaling ships. Sea Shepherd does not break laws; we have a great respect for the rule of law. What we do is assist in the enforcement of international marine conservation law. Kill a whale; prepare to go to the bottom. The only practical use of an outlaw whaling ship is for underwater habitat for fish."
Since 1979, Sea Shepherd crew and agents have sent ten illegal whaling ships to the bottom:
1979 - The pirate whaler "Sierra" rammed and sunk in Portugal. 1980 - The outlaw whalers "Isba I" and "Isba II" sunk in Vigo, Spain.
1980 - The pirate whalers "Susan" and "Theresa" sunk in South Africa. 1981 - The illegal whaling ships "Hvalur 6" and "Hvalur 7" sunk in Iceland.
1992 - The outlaw whaler "Nybraena" sunk in Norway. 1994 - The pirate whaler "Senet" sunk in Norway.
1998 - The pirate whaler "Morild" sunk in Norway.
In nine of these cases, no charges were ever laid against Sea Shepherd activists, and thus, no accusations of criminal activity by Sea Shepherd can be claimed. In the case of the Nybraena, charges were laid but Norwegian officials did not allow Captain Watson and his crew a proper defense. Captain Watson was arrested in Germany in 1997 under a Norwegian warrant and released the same day when the Bremen prosecutor ruled that the Norwegians did not have a case. Captain Watson was then arrested in the Netherlands under the same Interpol warrant and held for 80 days to await an extradition trial. The Dutch courts ruled that Captain Watson could not be extradited to Norway. Norway then dropped the case, and Captain Watson was issued papers from the Norwegian Department of Justice withdrawing any further arrest warrants against him. Ten whaling ships sunk and not one conviction. The reason for this is that all ten whaling ships were outlaws.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society acts in accordance with the U.N. World Charter for Nature. This charter provides for the enforcement of international conservation law by nation states, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an anti-piracy organization and sinking pirate ships is sanctioned under international maritime law.