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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Whale War of Words

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin

Sea Shepherd is fighting two battles at the same time to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The first battle is the on-going confrontations on the high seas and the second battle is in the court of international public opinion, the daily skirmishes of words fought in headlines and broadcasts around the world.

The Japanese whaling fleet is not doing very well on either front. In the field this season, they were shut down for three weeks as Sea Shepherd pursued them for over 2,000 nautical miles and they have lost one of their three harpoon vessels to ice damage.

In desperation, their public relations mouthpiece in New Zealand, a man by the name of Glenn Inwood has been shooting rhetoric from the hip without thinking. In fact he is making so many mistakes that it is we who should be paying him instead of his Japanese bosses. He has thrown the accusation of "terrorist" at us so many times that the word has lost all meaning. It's an easy label to rebuff. If we are terrorists than we should be arrested. Otherwise the name calling is becoming increasing more juvenile.

But then Inwood has not got much to rely on in his bag of devious dirty P.R. tricks. After all, his client the whalers are a cruel and despicable lot involved in numerous violations of international conservation law. Inwood would have an easier time defending the Mafia. But then come to think of it, in defending the whalers, he is in fact defending the Japanese organized crime syndicate called the Yakusa.

The Union that supplies the crew for the whaling ships is a Yakusa controlled Union. I've been making that charge for years without a single denial from the Union, the whalers or anyone else. The only defense for that charge is to ignore it with the hope it goes away or to assassinate the person making the charge which is exactly what they tried to do last season when someone on the Nisshin Maru shot me.

What is amusing is that Inwood and his clients are actually believing their own rhetoric to the point that they have abandoned any strategic thinking at all. The demand to bar the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin from Australian and New Zealand ports was very poorly thought out. Just as a lawyer should not ask a question in court that he or she does not know the answer to, nations should never make diplomatic demands publicly unless they know that the demand will be honoured.

Since Sea Shepherd has given no just cause to Australia or New Zealand to justify such a move, it was not going to happen. As a result, Japan, the whalers and Inwood lost face with the humiliating announcement by the Australian government that the Steve Irwin could continue to use Australian ports.

Japanese whalers however cannot. As a result the Japanese harpooner Yushin Maru #2 limped northward for 16 days to Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia for repairs where it is being met with demonstrations and negative publicity. So guilty are they that they unloaded their harpoon before entering Indonesian waters (most likely to another whaling vessel) and informed the Indonesian authorities that they were not harpooning whales but were instead simply doing non-lethal research.

Of course we have photos of the same ship with the harpoon mounted on December 20th, 2009, but the Japanese believe they can bully and bluff their way with the Indonesians where they failed with the Australians and the New Zealanders.

Our TV series Whale Wars has made millions of people aware of the illegal activities of the Japanese whalers and last year for the first time the issue made headlines in Japan. Japan is rapidly becoming more and more of a pariah in the world for its stubborn insistence in continuing to cruelly kill whales in arrogant defiance of the sentiments and the concerns of most of the world.

Sea Shepherd's strategy has been one of steady persistence in opposing the whalers in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. We do so without inflicting injury or damaging their ships and without committing any crime. Japanese accusations of the "violence" of Sea Shepherd ring hollow and like the boy who called "wolf" too many times, few except for the most ardent anti-environmentalists are paying any heed.

One tactic of the whalers is to try and hit the Steve Irwin so they can blame Sea Shepherd for "ramming" their ships. The fact is that Sea Shepherd has not rammed a single Japanese whaling vessel in the many years we have been confronting the whalers. The whalers deliberately collide with both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace ships so they can have the opportunity to plead the victim.

No matter how hard Inwood and his ilk try, he is defending the indefensible. Japanese whalers are targeting endangered Fin and threatened Minke whales in an established international whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling and in contempt of an Australian Federal Court ruling prohibiting their whaling operations in Australian waters. They are in violation of the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.

The only difference between the criminal activities of the Japanese whaling and elephant and rhino poachers is that the whalers have hired a few public relations firms and they are far more wealthy than Somali poachers. I am confident that we are once again going to cost the Japanese whaling fleet a great deal of money this season, just as we did for the two previous years. I am confident that they will not achieve their kill quota and I am also confident that if we persist without retreat, we will end this crime against nature and humanity and we will ensure that the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary becomes a sanctuary in practise and not just name.

Let's hope that the Japanese whalers do not fire Glen Inwood. We like him exactly where he is with his shoot a media release from the hip without thinking approach. We have been greatly entertained by his comical outbursts of indignation against compassionate people wanting to defend life from barbaric slaughter. It was also entertaining to see him skulk around the hotel where the International Whaling Commission met in Santiago, Chile last June when he ordered a surveillance on 15 year old Skye Bortoli of Australian Teens Against Whaling because she was a suspected terrorist. He also tried to have Chilean authorities ban me from entry to the country, another failure to stick in his portfolio of failures.

Thanks to Glen Inwood, we are making some pretty good progress on the public relations front. Below is a letter that recently appeared in the West Australian newspaper.

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The West Australian, opinion section: http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=93&ContentID=117994

Whale poachers flout illegal activities

14th January 2009, 10:00 WST

RE: Japan wants Australia to reject whaling protesters' port calls

According to Glenn Inwood, the New Zealand-based spokesman for Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Australia is guilty of breaching its "international obligations" to support bogus "science" by allowing the "criminal" anti-whaling vessel Steve Irwin to use its ports after the boat's high-seas collision with a Japanese ship recently.

This accusation is due to our government's impotent pacifism and subservience to Japan's illegal whaling operations.

Passive consent over the years is giving these perpetrators of crime a de facto legality and audacity.

Glenn Inwood is being paid handsomely, no doubt, to condemn Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin crew, the lonely law enforcers in the Southern Ocean.

Despite strong policies and promises, Japan remains all powerful and its whale poachers can safely flout their illegal activities right under our noses.

V. ORTEGA

HEIDELBERG HEIGHTS, VIC