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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Hana Blog 2. English, 3rd January 2012

Happy New Year!

I’m writing from a remote corner of the Southern Ocean where there appears to be nothing except us on the Bob Barker and 360 degrees of beautiful blue ocean, icebergs, sea birds, penguins, whales, dolphins and seals.

I will never forget spending this Christmas and New Year’s Eve journeying around one of the most untouched and unspoiled places on earth with a crew of friends who are here for the same reason as me. It seems like this is one of the most loved and cared for ships in the world.

The Bob Barker was built in 1950 as a Norwegian whaling ship. Sea Shepherd bought the vessel in 2009 after receiving a 5 million dollar donation from popular American TV show presenter, Mr. Bob Barker. The organisation then turned it into an anti-whaling/ environmental protection ship. This is the 3rd year the Bob Barker has joined Sea Shepherd’s Antarctic campaign. The ship was very rusty, rough and dirty when Sea Shepherd bought it, but it’s been taken care of by a team of unpaid, passionate volunteers from all over the world and turned into a very comfy vessel. Many materials including tools, paint, bedding, food etc. were donated or bought through donations which have come from Sea Shepherd’s many global supporters.

Sea Shepherd’s activities and ships are kept running thanks to the generosity of passionate people who care deeply about saving marine life and marine ecosystems.

Sea Shepherd has volunteers who take environmental and animal issues very seriously. From numerous nations, cultures, ages and backgrounds they come to take action with courage, passion and compassion.

There are 36 people on the Bob Barker including an Animal Planet film crew. These crewmembers hail from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, South Africa, Holland, Germany, England, Brazil, Italy, France, the Ivory Coast (West Africa) and Japan. The most common language on board is English. Everyone here gets on very well and we’ve quickly become like a big family.

Four vegan chefs cook delicious meals every day. For NYE, they cooked a big Japanese meal including sushi rolls, miso soup, Japanese pancakes and more. Awesome!

All three Sea Shepherd ships (the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Brigitte Bardot) are vegan ships which means the crew do not consume any meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey or other animal products. This is a very animal and environmentally friendly way to live.

The reason I have joined the Antarctic whale defence campaign as a translator is simply because Sea Shepherd saves lives. If we wait for the International Whaling Commission to provide adequate protection for global whale populations, wide spread commercial whaling operations may resume and soon there could be no whales left.

It is the 8th year Sea Shepherd has ventured to Antarctica and so far, Sea Shepherd has saved a total of 2,762 whales. If Sea Shepherd had not been intervening in the Antarctic whale sanctuary, these 2,762 whales would have been brutally killed in the most inhumane way imaginable. It horrifies me to think some would have struggled desperately for life for one full hour before eventually succumbing to the devastating injuries inflicted by the grenade-tipped harpoons. In light of this, it makes me happy to know that these 2,762 whales are swimming freely, giving birth and looking after their calves now.

Sea Shepherd doesn’t have a good reputation in Japan because the Japanese media only broadcast the Institute of Cetacean Research’s (ICR) side of things. If Sea Shepherd is as bad as the Japanese media tells me, I would not have joined this campaign. If you can compare the ICR’s claims to Sea Shepherd’s claims and also compare the ICR’s video footage to Sea Shepherd’s video footage, it’s not hard to see who is lying and creating baseless propaganda. The ICR lies to Japanese people and gets away with it because it is the only opinion that is widely publicised in Japan. I feel so disgusted about the way they brainwash Japanese people.

In January 2010, the Shonan Maru 2 (SM2) intentionally rammed the Sea Shepherd fast boat Ady Gil (AG). As the 6 AG crewmembers narrowly escaped with their lives, this incident is now widely recognized as attempted murder by the SM2 captain. Instead of playing footage from the AG and Bob Barker which clearly showed the SM2 deliberately turning into the AG, the Japanese media only chose to play ICR/whaler footage that deliberately skewed the truth for the Japanese viewers watching at home.

A few weeks later, the ICR made a fuss about 3 whalers being injured as a result of Sea Shepherd’s actions. The truth was these whalers attempted to spray a liquid (most likely pepper spray) towards Sea Shepherd’s small boats. Sea Shepherd has footage of the wind catching this spray and redirected it back into the whaler’s faces. The injuries they would have sustained from the spray are consistent with the injuries the whaler’s claimed Sea Shepherd had inflicted upon them. The Japanese whalers and ICR know that Sea Shepherd is a non-violent organisation that would never hurt them. They also know, all too well, that they are disgracefully lying and cheating their own people.

During the last Japanese whaling season in Antarctica, the Nisshin Maru (NM) (otherwise known as the whale meat factory ship or ‘Cetacean Death Star’) was chased by the Bob Barker to the border of Chilean waters. As Chile has strong anti-whaling policy (including laws that prevent the transport of whale meat through their waters) the Chilean government immediately announced they would send a coast guard ship to seize the NM and arrest their crew. The NM realised there was no way to escape the Bob Barker (The Bob Barker is faster than NM) and therefore they were forced to give up their whaling activities in Antarctica and return home early. As a result, Sea Shepherd saved a total of 863 whales. The NM was only able to process 172 whales including 2 endangered fin whales. This translates to about 17% of their seasonal quota.

So, who are the real eco-terrorists? A non-profit conservation organisation run by selfless individuals from all around the world, or the whaling industry and their affiliates, whose goal is to achieve profit and power? One works to save the environment, whilst the others only seek to destroy it. Given that Sea Shepherd acts in accordance with the UN World Charter for Nature, and targets the machines and equipment poachers utilise to accomplish their illegal activities (rather than the poachers themselves), should we consider their actions violent? Or would we be better off condemning those who disregard international law and show true remorseless violence against helpless animals like whales who are unable to defend or speak for themselves?

I hope Japanese people understand what Sea Shepherd does to save marine life and ecosystems. In time, I would like to see more Japanese people focus on, and discuss, the real problem - the issue of whaling. Through talking, we can help bring about a swift end to this illegal and unnecessary practice. This is another reason why I have joined the Antarctic whale defence campaign. I want to be ‘the bridge’ between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese people so that, together, we can end Antarctic whaling forever. Sea Shepherd really hopes the Japanese government ends whaling and uses their influence to encourage other pro-whaling nations to leave this outdated practice in the past. With whaling behind us, Sea Shepherd can redirect their funds, time and efforts towards saving many other threatened marine ecosystems and species.


I just heard some great news!!! Since its beginnings in 1977, one of Sea Shepherd’s main campaigns has been defending baby harp seals in Canada, but now Russia (one of Canada’s main markets for seal fur) is banning the import and trade of the seal furs and skins in their country. The Canadian government allows the slaughter of 325,000 baby seals each year for their fur. These baby seals are smashed in their head by a club and sometimes skinned alive.

In 2009, the EU banned the import of the seal fur/skin. Russia is responsible for importing 90% of the seal fur from Canada but now that they have banned the imports, there are fresh hopes the seal hunts will soon become a thing of the past. Unfortunately, China and Japan still import baby seal furs and skins. It is time for Japan to move in a new direction. We should consider taking a leaf out of West Hollywood’s book and immediately move to ban the sale of fur products (including those sourced from seals, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, minks, dogs, cats etc.) Please imagine being bashed in the head with a club many times and experiencing extreme pain before losing consciousness. Then imagine experiencing another bout of pain as the skin is ripped from your body. Please think about the baby seals who could only live to enjoy 2-3 weeks of life and think about the anguish of their helpless mothers. I urge you to please research the fur industry and ask yourself the question, ‘Do we really need to strip animals of their fur in the knowledge that we can live without it but they cannot?’

In other news, the Shonan Maru 2 (SM2) (the whaling fleet’s security/spy ship hired by the Japanese fishery agency) has entered into Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) whilst tailing the Sea Shepherd vessels the Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot. As the Japanese whaling fleet are banned from entering the EEZ of both Australia and New Zealand, this is a totally illegal and unacceptable action by the Japanese government. This disrespectful move has taken advantage of our close friendly relationship with Australia, threatened our international reputation and grated on the nerves of many people in these anti-whaling countries. I feel disgusted and ashamed that a ship with ‘Government of Japan’ written in big letters on its side would trespass into another country’s EEZ.

The Bob Barker has been searching for the factory ship, Nisshin Maru (NM) in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Today at 4 am (AEAT) on January 4th, the Bob Barker ran into one of the three harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru 3 (YM3). Since its discovery, the YM3 has been actively pursuing the Bob Barker. Thankfully, it appears that the YM3 has not begun whaling activities as its harpoon is still covered up.

At 8pm, the Bob Barker sent out 2 small boats in an attempt to slow the vessel and allow the Bob Barker to continue its search for the NM. The YM3 counterattacked small boat crews with powerful water cannons. Unfortunately, the mission failed to slow the YM3. I was personally observing the action from the Bob Barker and YM3 was very aggressive towards two small boat teams. The whalers violently blasted the crew with water cannons, threatening to knock them overboard where they could have quickly succumbed to the freezing waters. Throughout the confrontation they moved at high speed towards us. After approximately 5 hours on the icy cold waters of the Southern Ocean, the boat crew returned to the ship looking very wet and cold but pleased with their efforts.

On campaign, Sea Shepherd’s primary aim is to find NM and force it to retreat out of the Antarctic whale sanctuary. Given that the NM’s top speed is slower than the Bob Barker’s, there is little chance of it escaping and continuing its illegal activities. Sea Shepherd ships have difficulty locating the NM if any of the harpoon ships (Yushin Maru 1, 2 or 3) or the security ship (Shonan Maru 2) are pursuing them. For this reason, the Bob Barker’s crew may be forced to perform counter actions in an attempt to slow down the tailing vessel and escape out of radar range.

Sea Shepherd has always been careful not to hurt anyone and in their 34 year history, no one has been injured or killed during one of their actions. At the moment, the Bob Barker is being pursued by the YM3. At the same time the NM has been running from the Bob Barker. With Sea Shepherd distracting both ships from their whaling operations, the whales of the Southern Ocean remain safe and free to live out normal, happy lives. :)


The Bob Barker launched 2 small boats to look for NM.

The battle for the whales continues…….

Huge thanks to Michael Beasley for helping translate the above into English JHe sat next to me for a few hours correcting spelling and grammar errors without changing what I mean. Thanks mate!

Sea Shepherd – Pirates of Compassion (with Japanese subtitles)

Sea Shepherd- For the Oceans (with Japanese subtitles)



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