Halfway Through Operation No Compromise
Report from Captain Paul Watson
This is Day 54 of Operation No Compromise and Day 25 since Sea Shepherd Conservation Society intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet. We are about halfway through the campaign, with approximately another 54 days to go until the Antarctic winter begins to evict the whalers from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and another season of slaughter will be over…hopefully it will be the last.
Despite that this is going to be the most successful year yet for Sea Shepherd’s mission and whale kill quotas will be lower than ever before, the fact remains that this is a very difficult and complex campaign taking place over hundreds of thousands of square miles in adverse weather conditions, amidst icebergs and floes. It involves coordinating three vessels, a helicopter, and 88 crewmembers. It also involves complex logistics like refueling, provisioning, repairs, aerial and ice surveys, communications, and numerous other details.
It is never an easy task and not quite as simplistic as many of our detractors seem to think it is. Our campaigns are major Antarctic expeditions in every possible way. They are grander in terms of ships, crew, and equipment than any of the famous Shackleton, Scott, or Amundsen expeditions of nearly a century ago.
On the very positive side during this campaign, we were able to locate the Japanese whaling fleet before they killed a single whale. We were able to intercept the Sun Laurel refueling vessel to cut off supplies and fuel to the Nisshin Maru and the rest of her whaling fleet. Most importantly of all, we have kept two of the three harpoon vessels out of whaling operations completely, while the third continues to run along with the Nisshin Maru.
We have chased the whaling fleet for over 4,000 miles for the last 24 days. Are whales being killed? Possibly, but not many.
We have not yet located the Nisshin Maru, but we usually do not do so until February of each campaign. Last year we did not find the factory ship until almost mid February, and we were still able to save more whales than the whalers were able to kill.
As in any conflict in a remote area, things do go wrong. I had to send the Gojira back to Hobart for some quick repairs on the new marine diesel engines we installed in November 2010. However, the Gojira will be able to return to the Southern Ocean before the Steve Irwin is forced to return to port to refuel. The Bob Barker has sufficient fuel reserves to stay with the fleet well into March, by which time the Steve Irwin will return with fuel reserves to extend Sea Shepherd’s intervention to the end of the whaling season.
The evidence of our success this year will be seen when the Japanese whaling fleet announces their final kill statistics sometime in April. Those figures should be lower than prior years. Without two of their three harpoon vessels to aid in the killing and with the third being constantly on the run, their efficiency and productivity as an industrial endeavor has been greatly diminished. The 2010/2011 whaling season will be a financial disaster for the Japanese fleet.
Already this year, the whaling fleet was three weeks late in arriving to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and they came with only four ships, the factory ship and three harpoon vessels, whereas last year they had seven total. But Sea Shepherd returned far stronger this year than ever before with three vessels and a faster, longer-range helicopter.
It is my hope that Operation No Compromise will be the last Sea Shepherd campaign to the Southern Ocean, but if the Japanese fleet does return in December of this year, we intend to be down here once again to greet them. Sea Shepherd will not retreat until the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is recognized and protected as a Sanctuary in practice, not just in words.
In addition to the success of our campaign in the Southern Ocean this year, we have also gained some public relations victories with the public release made by Wikileaks revealing that Japan recognizes Sea Shepherd as their primary obstacle in furthering their whaling program. Wikileaks also verified that the harassment from the American and Australian governments at the bequest of Japan was and is real, and not Sea Shepherd paranoia.
The article titled Japan’s whaling fleet on the Run recently published by the Sydney Morning Herald, is indicative of the kind of positive media we are achieving in Australia.
This year’s campaign to the Southern Ocean took a great deal of effort and time on behalf of hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Thus far, 88 crewmembers from 22 different nations have participated in the campaign onboard our ships. Several more crewmembers will be joining our fleet when the Steve Irwin refuels in February. The onshore volunteers in the Australian ports and in cities around the world have made it possible for us to raise the necessary funds to repair the ships, purchase the Gojira, fuel and provision the vessels, and cover our port and communication expenses for this campaign. We are only able to do what we do due to our passionate onshore and offshore volunteers, and a solid, loyal base of supporters worldwide.
Sea Shepherd has an objective - we intend to abolish all whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We are here to defend the integrity of the sanctuary. It is a simple, uncomplicated objective and we have very straightforward rules of engagement. We have not and will not cause a single injury to the whalers, although we will obstruct their ships and equipment. We will not break any international law in pursuit of this objective; Sea Shepherd has not been charged or reprimanded for any offense related to blocking and intercepting these whaling operations. Finally, we will not compromise on our objective – we will not accept any whaling, regardless of whom it is done by, anytime in the sanctuary.
In reference to the argument that our efforts are entrenching on Japanese resistance to end whaling, we can only remind people that the alternative is to surrender to the will of the whalers, and that we simply shall not do. The same argument was said during the movement to oppose apartheid in South Africa. Yes, the white South African regime did entrench but then ultimately they fell under the weight of international public opinion.
Sea Shepherd’s strategy is to focus on causing financial damage to the whalers. Our intent is to economically sink the Japanese whaling fleet, bankrupt them, and then drive them out of business.
The days down here in the Southern Ocean are long – literally. The miles of ocean we have covered are immense and the weather and ice dangers are very real and always close.
However, crew morale grows with each day that we stop the whalers from whaling. Each day brings us sightings of whales unmolested by the cruel harpoons, which serve as daily reminders for the crew of why we are here and whom we represent. Today we saw a pod of orcas, but since arriving in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, we have been given the pleasure of the company from the humpback, Minke, fin, blue, pilot and sperm whales.
These whales are our clients and they are the reason we come down here for four months of every year. We are here to represent their interests. They are our clients, and our objective is to eradicate the obscenity of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We will succeed in realizing this objective no matter how long it takes or how dangerous it becomes…we will end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary!