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It's been a busy whaling season by the Japanese despite the fact that many believe their thinly veiled excuse as scientific research couldn't wear much thinner.  And the past week has been full of headlines regarding the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and their continued clashes with the Japanese whaling fleet.

The latest is that Paul Bethune, a New Zealand citizen, boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in order to hand them a hefty bill for the Ady Gil that was sunk last month and make a citizen's arrest of the captain of the boat.

So the sea saga continues...

This incident is the latest in an escalating series of skirmishes on the high seas between anti-whaling activists of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, of which Bethune is a member, and the Japanese whaling industry. The whaling wars have also intensified a diplomatic tussle between Japan and Australian and New Zealand, with the Kiwis demanding a halt to the hunting and the Australian government saying it hasn’t ruled out the prospect of taking legal action against the whalers after gathering evidence that it’s presenting to the International Whaling Commission [BusinessWeek].

The International Whaling Commission placed a global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 but whales can still be killed for research purposes–a technical loophole that allows Japanese whalers to kill an estimated 1000 whales each year. The boats hunt hundreds of mostly minke whales, which are not an endangered species. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunts [Associated Press]. DISCOVER has documented complaints by American scientists that killing whales isn’t necessary for the research Japanese scientists are conducting. The International Whaling Commission continues to try to figure out how to amend its rules to contain Japan’s whaling efforts, thus far without success.

Japan now has six whaling ships in Antarctic waters for “scientific purposes.” The Sea Shepherd sends vessels to confront the fleet each year, trying to block the whalers from firing harpoons and dangling ropes in the water to try to snarl the Japanese ships’ propellers. The whalers have responded by firing water cannons and sonar devices meant to disorient the activists [Associated Press].


And the attacks on both sides are indeed escalating, I think the tension stems from the fact that neither are going to back down, both feeling perfectly within their rights.  The Japanese are killing whales within a very fine line of international law and the Sea Shepherd Society is doing its best to make their lives miserable and mission impossible.  And it's working.

I think we can guarantee now that the Japanese whaling fleet will fail to get their kill quota by 30% to 55% based on past observations of Sea Shepherd disruptions, said Captain Watson, They will not be seeing any profits for this season.

Mr. Masayuki Komatsu, the former Japanese whaling commissioner who once referred to Minke whales as the cockroaches of the sea, has warned Japan not to retreat from whaling in Antarctica because it would be handing a decisive victory for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Our minister said that they are going to retreat from Antarctica, Sea Shepherd must be happier,” Komatsu said.

If the only reason that Japan wishes to continue whaling is because they refuse to be seen backing down from Sea Shepherd than that is truly pathetic and extremely petty on the part of the Japanese government, said Captain Watson, What Komatsu is really saying is that we are humiliating Japan by effectively disrupting their illegal poaching activities. If its now all about saving face now that theyve already lost, then they should retreat while they still have half a face left.


And because of the activism of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, I highly doubt that this issue would get half the publicity it does now or the attention of Countries like Australia, which is threatening again to take legal action against Japan if they don't stop whaling immediately.

Kevin Rudd said yesterday that if Japan did not agree to reduce its Antarctic catch to zero, Australia would go to the International Court of Justice by November, before the next whaling season.

''We have put ourselves onto a timeline, we're working it through with the Japanese, but if they don't come at this agreement to reduce to zero, we will initiate that action,'' Mr Rudd told Channel Seven.

The ultimatum, the toughest Mr Rudd has made to the Japanese on the issue, comes amid International Whaling Commission talks said to fall far short of what the government wants.

The meeting with Mr Okada in Sydney today and with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, tomorrow will be the last chance for top-level exchanges before a report on the commission talks is released next week.

The report contains what anti-whaling groups describe as ''the package from hell''. It proposes to lock in a Japanese Antarctic whaling quota for 10 years, according to Brazilian environmentalist Jose Truda Palazzo.


This must end, whaling by the Japanese is a farce and it is not justified as scientific research or as a means to feed the Japanese people.  There is just no logical reason to keep whaling except for the Japanese to defy the world merely for defiance sake.

On Valentines Day, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was working as hard as ever...

Sea Shepherd Update: Valentine’s Day in the Southern Ocean

The crews of the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker celebrated Valentine's Day by painting the Research sign on the side of the Nisshan Maru with red paint. The paint represented the blood of the whales, exposing the bogus nature of so-called research by the Japanese whaling vessels.

The word "research" is in English and not Japanese, because the Japanese fully understand that the whaling is a commercial operation. It is only the West that the Japanese whalers are trying to fool.

The Japanese whalers have not killed a whale for ten days now because of Sea Shepherd’s intervention.

The Japanese Institute for Cetacean Research has accused Sea Shepherd of harassing the fleet each day. Of course Sea Shepherd is harassing the fleet. We did not come down here to hang banners.

Sea Shepherd ships have a single objection - to cut kill quotas inflicted by the illegal poaching operations of the Japanese whaling fleet.

For those who accuse Sea Shepherd of being criminals, Captain Paul Watson has only this to say: "If we are criminals, either arrest us or shut the hell up. I'm getting pretty fed up with whiners who can't back up their ridiculous accusations with the law. Cite a law that we have broken, cite a violation. The truth is that there have been no violations and we have not been charged with a single criminal act or maritime violation in six years of opposing these poachers."

Sea Shepherd, on the other hand, can cite laws, such as: the regulations of the International Whaling Commission, the Antarctic Treaty, the Law of the Sea, and an Australian Federal Court order prohibiting Japanese whaling in the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters.

Japanese whalers are barred from entering Australian and New Zealand waters. Sea Shepherd ships are not barred. Japanese whalers are barred from Indonesian waters. Sea Shepherd ships are not. If a Japanese whaling ship enters an Australian or New Zealand port it will be arrested. Sea Shepherd ships are not arrested.

So who indeed are the criminals? The poachers illegally killing endangered and protected whales inside the boundaries of an established international Whale Sanctuary, in violation of a global moratorium on whaling, and in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order, OR the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is simply trying to stop these illegal activities, and doing so in a responsible manner without causing injuries or breaking the law?

Tomorrow marks the 70th day since the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed Fremantle to begin Operation Waltzing Matilda.

"This is a long protracted campaign involving three vessels coming from three different countries under different flags and with volunteers from 18 nations. We are navigating the most remote and hostile waters in the world and we are opposing an increasingly aggressive opposition. We have lost one ship and had another damaged. But, we are cutting their kill quotas and costing them their profits and thus Operation Waltzing Matilda has been a success," said Captain Watson. "We will not retreat and we will never surrender the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to the poachers from Japan."

Thanks to them, less whales died on Valentine's day and during this whole whaling season.  I don't pretend to be objective.  Their methods are working.

Originally posted to Ellinorianne on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 08:16 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The sad thing about this... (7+ / 0-)

    ...was that I became a political activist in high school (and annoyed many classmates :) by handing out "Save the Whales" bumper stickers, getting petitions signed and educating people about the absolute lack of neccessity for commercial whaling - and that was 32 years ago.

    This really should have stopped by now. There is no earthly reason or justification for it. This is just one more reason I will never buy a Japanese car.

  •  I have long thought the answer (7+ / 0-)

    to this is remarkably simple. Everyone who has paid the slightest attention to this issue understands that the Japanese (and other whalers) are playing technical loophole games in order to continue doing what they've always done - kill whales.

    It's a violation of international law - enough already. If the US announced tomorrow that it would begin enforcing the law - by sinking the boats on site if necessary (after removing and jailing the sailors)- it would stop tomorrow. And if the Japanese lose face - good, it's what they deserve.

    What's next - "we're not killing this rhinoceros for its tusks (so that we can sell them to idiots who believe they make a good aphrodesiac) - we're just "studying" the dead rhinoceros.

    Nudist Minorcan ancestors good with slingshots, invented mayo - family dynamic now clear

    by hpchicago on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 08:29:19 PM PST

  •  The 2009 documentary "The Cove"... (9+ / 0-)

    features some excellent footage showcasing the corrupting influence Japan has over the International Whaling Commission.

    Basically, Japan picks up the tab for poor island nations to join the Commission, ensuring that they'll vote the way Japan wants them to.

  •  It's a culture thing. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even if whales are economically irrelevant to Japan, they feel entitled to whaling for reasons of heritage.  Think about how Texas would react if the world banned cattle slaughter - it hasn't been the dominant industry in decades, but Texans regard it as a heritage matter.  Still, I'm all for people who place their conception of heritage over the lives of sentient creatures.

    "What is great in Man is that he is a bridge and not an end." - Friedrich Nietzsche

    by Troubadour on Fri Feb 19, 2010 at 09:14:59 PM PST

  •  While I support the effort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    watching the show is so frustrating.  These boats are filled with inexperienced volunteers that usually do more harm to themselves than to the Japanese.  I would like it if we put together a truly professional outfit to stop the Japanese.

    •  I Think The Sea Shepherds Are Pretty Amazing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Paul Watson is obviously very committed, and we'd be hard pressed starting a more effective organization from scratch.  If The Sea Shepherds had the funding, I'm sure they'd be happy to hire professional sailors, and/or ex-navy seals to do their bidding.

  •  great diary, sorry I missed it .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor, Ellinorianne

    thanks to Rescue Rangers for pointing it out.

    "the work goes on, the cause endures .. "

    by shpilk on Sat Feb 20, 2010 at 08:33:06 PM PST

  •  Westerners have no right... (0+ / 0-)

    to lecture anyone about their food or animal culture. Most European countries have banned the mutilation of dogs for competition. The American Kennel Club will not let dogs compete without mutilation if the breed is defined by its mutilation (i.e., cropped ears and tails for breed type).

    The U.S. food industry also routinely violates world standards for the treatment of animals--clipping beaks of chickens, immobilizing cows to pack more into confined spaces, and so on. The U.S. food industry feeds corn to animals who (by design) need grass, then when the animals become sick, the industry pumps them full of antibiotics, putting the world in danger of super-viruses. The U.S. food industry also uses GM foods without labelling, creating food that runs afoul with most world standards.

    The "global moratorium" on whaling allows for native peoples, such as the Inuits, to continue to whale. If it is okay for the Inuits in Alaska, then why is it not okay for the Japanese or the Norwegians? They are native peoples whose culture goes back centuries, and whose culture relied on whale meat.

    In the 19th century, the U.S. was one of the largest whaling countries in the world. The reason was for the oil. The U.S. firms would strip the oil and discard the rest. The people of Japan, Iceland and Norway eat every part of the animal, letting nothing go to waste.

    As for the dolphin kill, U.S. farmers routinely poison rabbits and moles. U.S. ranchers kill wolves.

    Again, the U.S. reserves no right to criticize another's food culture.

    •  It's not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Delta Overdue, Predictor

      about culture or food culture, it's about skirting international law.  

      And I am appalled with what we do here.  But regardless, what we do as a country doesn't take away my right to say what I want about what other Countries do.

      That's just ridiculous.  Just because we used to do a lot of barbaric things doesn't mean we should continue to do them.

      Just because I am condemning just whaling doesn't mean I'm condoning other actions, this diary is just about Japanese whaling.  Not ranchers and farmers killing wolves or rabbits.

      •  Use of soft power by U.S. (0+ / 0-)

        Norway excluded itself from the Intl Whaling Commission moratorium by registering an official objection. Thus, it has a right to whale, in accordance with its home food culture.

        Japan wanted to do so, too, but U.S. soft power came into play, essentially forcing the Japanese to agree to something that they did not want (Tradeoff was for access to fishing stocks). The Japanese agreed so long as there was an "out" through "research."

        It's not much different than the SEIU agreeing to support the Cadillac tax on health insurance plans, so long as the cap is high enough that most members can avoid the tax.

        What's the difference? The upcoming health care bill will become LAW, yet, the existence of an "out" will have been introduced to get support from a constituency that otherwise would not have supported it.

        Imagine the outrage among unions if, after the health care bill is signed into law, the lawmakers decide to remove the cap altogether!

        In this example, Japan is the SEIU.

  •  Piracy is Illegal. Japanese Whaling is Not. (0+ / 0-)

    Please compare what Paul Watson is doing with what the Somali pirates are doing and what George Bush did when he took us to war in Iraq.

    The Japanese are within their rights to use deadly force if necessary to protect their ships and their crews. Piracy is a violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Starting the Iraq war was a violation of the UN Charter. The Bush/Cheney decision to torture prisoners was also a violation of international law. The fact that someone approves of the "end" of ending Japanese whaling or regime change in Iraq does not justify the "means" of doing so by unlawful violence.

    Ellinorianne apparently holds the Sea Shepherd pirates in high esteem. I am certain that Somali pirates are also held in high esteem in their own country because it brings in much needed revenue. And, we know that a great many misguided Americans still support torture. Popular opinion cannot make piracy any more lawful than popular opinion can make torture lawful. If you want more recent evidence that popular ends do not justify the means, look at the Austin airplane bomber who hated to pay taxes.

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      no.  You cannot compare any of these thins to what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is doing.  The Japanese are breaking the law because they aren't studying whales, they are eating them.  It's a farce, just as our war in Iraq is.

      Comparing it to supporting torture?  

      Your logic is flawed.  

      •   All of my examples are violations of law (0+ / 0-)

        "Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
        (a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
        (i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft."
        Article 101, UN Convention of the Law of the Sea; New York, 1983.  (Not yet ratified by the US, but considered by the USG since the Reagan Administration to represent customary international law.)

        The actions of the Somali pirates and the actions of the Canadian pirate, Paul Watson, are both crystal clear violations of international law.

        I agree that the Bush/Cheney violations of the UN Charter, the Geneva Convention, and the UN Convention Against Torture, are several orders of magnitude greater than Paul Watson's violations.  However, all of these international laws derive from the same source, namely a worldwide consensus that civilized people from civilized nations do not resolve political disputes with unsanctioned violence.  

        My logical connection compares four violations of international law -- two involved acts of violence committed by private individuals on the high seas, and two involved acts of violence perpetrated by our former President.

        Why does opposition to Japanese whaling justify violent acts by private citizens any more than opposition to our tax code justifies a private citizen flying an airplane into the IRS office in Austin?  Since you and I both seem to agree that Bush and Cheney violated international law, would that justify our using violence to stop them?  I don't think so.

        Face it. You have decided that since the operative international law that allows Japan to kill whales is morally wrong, rather than directing your support to the diplomats and scientists within the US Government (State Department and NOAA) who are lawfully seeking to change the whaling laws, you have chosen to encourage someone who is proudly and violently defying international law on a regular basis.    

        You are giving support to an international criminal because you do not like whaling.

        •  I actually support (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          both, by urging the IWC to close the loophole, supporting the Australian Government in suing the Japanese and by cheering on the Sea Shepherd Society for inhibiting the Japanese from meeting their quota.

          I'm not claiming any logic in my support or in my defense in their actions.  I just claimed it's working.  I think you are using hyperbole though in saying it's similar to a guy flying an airplane into a Government building, which is absurd.

          Their intentions are not to hurt Japanese whalers but to merely stop them from killing whales.  I think intention is important as well.  

          The guy who flew his plane into a building wanted to hurt as many people as possible and had no intention of saving lives.  NONE.  It's an asinine comparison and insulting on every level.

          And if anyone was really outraged by what Sea Shepherd was doing, there would be international outcry, the only Country that's angry are the Japanese because they've been show to be absolute hypocrites in skirting international law.

          Call them pirates, I doubt anyone would argue otherwise, I'm sure they would take it as a compliment, the point is, they are saving lives, an important species to many.

          •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

            Thank you for admitting that you are "cheering on the Sea Shepherd Society for inhibiting the Japanese from meeting their quota."  

            Like I said -- you are giving support to an international criminal because you don't like whaling.  I'll go beyond that and rephrase it -- you are giving your support to an international criminal who recklessly commits violent acts that could injure his fellow human beings because you don't like whaling.

            By the way, when you use statements claiming that my "logic is faulty" or my statement is "absurd" or my comparison "assinine", you do your cause no favors. It is a sure sign that someone is losing an argument when they resort to pejoratives.      

            •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              go ahead but I would love for you to argue that with the people who had families in that building when the plane was flown into it.  

              •  What did you mean by that snide remark? (0+ / 0-)

                I would be happy to argue to anyone that those who use violence against others to resist laws they do not like are never right. I did not say or even imply in the slightest that the Austin airplane bomber deserved my praise.  I'm with MLK and Gandhi on those points.  
                What I said, and what I continue to say, is that the logic of YOUR support for Paul Watson -- that the ends justify the means -- would also logically support others who commit criminal acts of violence besides piracy. It was YOU who cheered on the criminal, not me. It is YOU who have to explain why you support the violent acts of one criminal, but not another.
                And, please don't bring the whales into this -- I'm talking about human lives that are threatened by Paul Watson's criminal activities.  

                •  I find it distasteful (0+ / 0-)

                  that you use an incident, such as that to compare to what Paul Whatson is doing.  

                  No one has been hurt by the Sea Shepherd except minor injuries.  The intentions of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does matter.

                  I do make differences between certain acts and the levels of their intention, the outcome, etc.

                  They are not the same regardless if they are both breaking the law.  

                  And your outrage that they are the same and being called out that they are not the same is evidence as such.  They are not the same and I stand by that.

                  Because I condone what Paul Whatson does, does in no way mean I condone other acts of defiance and that's what is absurd is your argument.

                  No matter how much you say it is so, doesn't make it so.

                  •  Once again (0+ / 0-)

                    You continue to use pejorative words like "absurd" and "distasteful" to answer an argument that you cannot win. It is YOUR argument that some acts of criminal violence directed at other human beings are acceptable, indeed praiseworthy, because of some greater good. That is the same argument used by those who bomb abortion clinics. I reiterate, I support no acts of unlawful violence in support of any political agenda.    

                    •  No (0+ / 0-)

                      you are refusing the logic.  There are reasons why we have degrees of murder, there are reasons why we have levels of severity in how we prosecute and punish crimes.  It's not just how I see things, it's how the law sees things.

                      So I still don't see how comparing the two is right, there are varying degrees of actions when it comes to how we defy the acts of another.  

                      The two you compare are not the same acts of defiance and my reaction is that it is wrong to compare the two.  An opinion which does not in anyway negate my argument.

                      I have not said that what Paul Whatson does is LEGAL I just said that it is effective and to me, the ends justifies the means in my view.

                      But to say that I condone his actions would also mean I condone the actions of someone flying a plane into a building because he doesn't agree with the IRS is a logically flawed argument.

                      Because I don't.

                      •  Please don't lecture me on the law (0+ / 0-)

                        I received my J.D. in 1968 and served a few years as a prosecutor, so I am familiar with degrees of culpability. However, since 1976, I have practiced marine conservation law exclusively.

                        In my professional opinion, Paul Watson's unlawful operations at sea recklessly endanger the lives of all crewmembers aboard the Japanese whaling ships which operate in an extremely hostile marine environment to begin with. Had he taken such actions in the Arctic against an American Inupiat whaling vessel, he would have found himself facing jail time and forfeiture of his vessel.

                        Even if you think the Japanese are violating international law, which has not yet been established, Paul Watson's vigilantism is an improper response.

                        The proper response, which I believe Australia is now considering, would be to adjudicate the rights Japan claims under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

  •  Is it piracy is they aren't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor, Ellinorianne

    stealing anything? Harassment isn't piracy. Plus, isn't there a philosophy (Plato or Aristotle or one of those dudes) that bad deeds are justified if they are being committed for a laudable purpose?

    It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. -- Thomas Jefferson

    by AtlantaJan on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 07:27:39 AM PST

  •  You need to know the facts and you don't (0+ / 0-)

    The Sea Shepherd people taunted Indian school children, vandalized their busses and school buildings, tossed a lit flare into an open boat, and shouted racial epithets at an Indian village and children.

    If you didnt know that, shame on you.

    If you approve of that, shame on you.

    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone may be proud of us.

    by marthature on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:23:11 AM PST

  •  great diary, thank you & anti-whaling activists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    secession = treason. Haters are Traitors!

    by catchaz on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:53:28 PM PST

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