Sea Shepherd Response to the Media Release from the Institute for Cetacean Research
ICR Release: Sea Shepherd Commits Further Criminal Acts At Sea
Captain Paul Watson: If Sea Shepherd has committed a crime then what charges are there to back up this rhetoric? The Japanese whalers have been accusing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of crimes since 2002 yet not one Sea Shepherd crewmember or officer has been arrested for any crime in connection with interventions against illegal Japanese whaling activities. It is the Japanese whaling fleet that continues to break international conservation law by unlawfully poaching endangered and protected whales inside the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
ICR Release: Sea Shepherd crew aboard the Dutch vessel Steve Irwin have committed further illegal acts at sea yesterday and attempted to entangle the propellers of Japanese research vessels in the Southern Ocean.
Captain Paul Watson: The crew of the Steve Irwin in inflatable boats threatened to entangle the props of Japanese harpoon boats in response to attempts by the Japanese harpoon boats to foul the prop of the Steve Irwin. The Japanese whalers initiated the prop fouling attacks.
ICR Release: This is the second attempt at fouling the propellers of the Japanese vessels in as many days, the Director-General of the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, Japan, Mr Minoru Morimoto, said today.
Captain Paul Watson: We have the right to defend ourselves from the whalers attempting to prop foul us with their fast vessels with their superior maneuverability.
ICR Release: Sea Shepherd crew members used specially-designed propeller entangling devices to disable the vessels. The protesters also threw bottles of acid at the Japanese vessel, Nisshin Maru, although all of the bottles fell only into the sea.
Captain Paul Watson: There is nothing different between the ropes used to foul our props and the ropes we used to threaten the whalers except that our ropes are thinner. Bottles of rotten butter were tossed from the inflatable boats in response to being pelted with golf balls and chunks of metal. The difference is that the Sea Shepherd crew did not attempt to hit any of the whalers whereas the whalers were targeting and striking our crew. The Steve Irwin crew threw rotten butter. Chemically this can be defined as butyric acid just as orange just is citric acid. The reality is that orange juice and even beer are more acidic than rotten butter. The Japanese whalers try to spin the story to suggest that we are throwing disfiguring corrosive acid like sulfuric acid.
ICR Release: Mr Morimoto said that immediately following the unsuccessful criminal attack on the Nisshin Maru, the Dutch vessel's crew members turned their sights to the Japanese sampling vessel, the Yushin Maru, and several bottles of acid were thrown onto the deck. The Sea Shepherd members then deployed two propeller entangling devices against the Yushin Maru, although both attempts failed. One of the devices was recovered from the ocean by the Japanese crew. The attack from the Dutch vessel began at 1000 hours Japan time (1200hrs AEST; 1400hrs NZDT) yesterday.
Captain Paul Watson: This statement is a distortion of the truth. The Steve Irwin trailed a long mooring line to prevent the harpoon vessels from attacking from the stern. The mooring line was well marked with a buoy so the harpooners could plainly see it. We have film of them trying to fish this line from the water with a grappling hook. Once they did so they began to race ahead with our own line to wrap it around our ship. The Steve Irwin crew upon seeing this cut the line as it went under the Yushin Maru but it did not foul their prop.
ICR Release: The Dutch vessel also launched a projectile attack firing repeatedly what seemed to be signal flares towards the Yushin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 2. Also, the Sea Shepherd vessel launched another attack aiming to disable the Nisshin Maru's propeller by dragging a hawser (mooring rope) with buoys.
Captain Paul Watson: We fired signal flares over the top of the attacking harpoon boats to warn them away from us because they were coming dangerously close. We never attempted to disable the Nisshin Maru. The Nisshin Maru turned into and attempted to ram the Steve Irwin on three different occasions.
ICR Release: Mr Morimoto said: "I call on all member nations of the IWC to condemn these acts of violence by Sea Shepherd and for countries to close their ports to the Dutch vessel."
Captain Paul Watson: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society calls on the world's governments to enforce the Antarctic Treaty, the regulations of the International Whaling Commission, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Canberra Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. (CCCAMLR) The Japanese whaling fleet is targeting endangered and protected whales in an established international whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling. Sea Shepherd is not protesting a legal whaling operation; we are intervening against a whale poaching operation. The poaching of whales in this sanctuary is no different than the poaching of elephants in an African national park except that in Africa the poachers are black, poor and action is taken to stop them.
ICR Release: This is the second attempt this season by Sea Shepherd to foul the propellers of the Japanese vessels. The first attempt, made on 2 February, was also unsuccessful and the device used by Sea Shepherd was recovered by the Japanese crew members. Photos of the rope can be seen here: http://www.icrwhale.org/gpandsea-img.htm
Captain Paul Watson: We admit we threatened to foul the harpoon boats that were attempting to foul the prop of the Steve Irwin. We view it as self defense
ICR Release: Captain John Carroll, the federal master of the Company of Master Mariners of Australia, said Sea Shepherd's stated aim of dragging a hawser under the Japanese ship to disable its propellers could rip the drive shafts from the ship and leave a gaping hole under its waterline. "There is always a weak point built into a ship's drive shafts for safety reasons and you can actually pull the propeller shaft, or shafts, right off," Captain Carroll said. "If that happened, it is probable the ship would sink." (The Australian newspaper, 11 January 2006)
Captain Paul Watson: With respect Captain Carroll has no idea what Sea Shepherd's state aim was since we did not issue any such stated aim saying we were trying to befoul the props of the whaling ships. I wonder what Captain Carroll's consulting fee from the Japanese whaling industry was?
ICR Release: Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), explicitly provides that member countries may issue permits for scientific research. Research on Antarctic whale resources is important because the ICRW requires that the IWC's regulations must be based on scientific findings.
Captain Paul Watson: The IWC does not approve of the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and Japan is not fooling anyone with their charade of scientific whaling. Remove the profits from whaling and the so called "scientific" whaling program will come to a halt. Aside from the bogus science, the whaling program is violating numerous treaties as stated before. There has been no exemption given to Japan to violate CITES, CCCAMLR, or the Antarctic Treaty.
The Japanese slaughter of endangered and protected whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary is illegal under international conservation law.