Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorial articles from 2012 and earlier.

For articles from 2013 and newer, visit our Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorials page.

 

The Way of Water

Combating disastrous deceptions with the power of patience

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul WatsonCaptain Paul Watson
Photo: Billy Danger/Sea Shepherd
On October 26th The Japan Times reported on the March 11, 2011 Japanese tsunami donations scandal with the headline “Misuse of Disaster ‘Reconstruction’ Money Runs Rampant.” In the article it plainly admits that the Fisheries Ministry was given 2.3 billion [Yen] for countermeasures against the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group.

Professor Yoshimitsu Shiozaki of Kobe University, an expert on reconstruction of disaster areas, stated in the Japan Times, “this time the funds are being used in a more deceptive way.” Japanese Member of Parliament Kuniko Tanioka was quoted as saying, “It has turned out that the funds have been used for projects they had not imagined…It has dampened the disaster victims’ will to rebuild their lives.”

The Fisheries agency has been very defensive about their anti-Sea Shepherd allocation, insisting that the budget to counter Sea Shepherd will “eventually benefit areas in and around the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, where about 1,200 people work in whaling related industries.”

Oops, reality check!!! “Whaling related industries!”

We thought this was about science, not jobs. We thought the purpose was research, not profits.

Sea Shepherd’s interference is against so-called “scientific whaling” in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.  So what is it exactly - a whaling industry or scientific whaling?

It appears it is whatever is convenient, as required by the Japanese whaling propaganda machine. Right now there are coastal towns with real people suffering because of lack of funds to repair their homes and to recover their lives. Yet the Nisshin Maru is currently in Hiroshima undergoing $24 million dollars worth of repairs and upgrades.

Nisshin Maru being repaired in portNisshin Maru being repaired in port
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The Japanese government is not only illegally killing whales in an internationally recognized whale sanctuary, they are also denying assistance to their own people in order to continue this crime of killing whales.

Nations such as the United States, New Zealand, Germany, and many others are complicit in this crime by refusing to uphold international conservation law and by their willingness to assist Japan in their harassment of anyone who attempts to stop illegal Japanese whaling activities.

These nations know that Japan is acting unlawfully but they kow-tow to Japan because of trade relations.

It is truly amazing that Sea Shepherd has not only been able to continue our interventions against the whalers, but we are actually defeating them in the field and in the courts. Sure it has its price. Being forced underground because of Japan’s power to manipulate Interpol into issuing a politically-motivated Red List issuance is inconvenient, but it has not slowed the momentum of the Sea Shepherd crews in preparing our ships for Operation Zero Tolerance.

The Japanese whalers survive as glorified welfare bums, sucking funds from the victims of the tsunami and earthquake and milking the Japanese taxpayers. Their bloody industry is dead and the Japanese people are becoming increasingly aware of how deceitful and corrupt this industry is.

Being exiled from my own country and forced to remain at sea is a small price to pay in this long struggle to end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. I love being at sea and I have friends supporting me all around the world. We are united by the common desire to save the lives of whales and dolphins and to protect the overall diversity of life in our oceans.

I was pleased this week to see the release of Nils Greskewitz from the jail in Shingu, near Taiji. Sea Shepherd Advisory Board attorney Oliver Wallasch donated his legal expertise to negotiate the release of Nils. He returned home to Germany after paying a fine and damages to a statue that he accidentally damaged.

Nils knew that climbing on the statue was a violation of the Cove Guardian rules. He recognized this and took responsibility for his actions. Personally I viewed the sight of the bent harpoon on the statue of the whaler as a positive omen.

The Japanese police used the incident as an excuse to raid the Cove Guardians and to confiscate their laptops, phones, and cameras. They returned the items damaged, yet due to the generosity of our supporters worldwide we had been able to replace the equipment within twenty four hours and Operation Infinite Patience is now streaming live via EZearth.tv.

We have been fighting the dolphin slaughter in Taiji ever since we first exposed this horrific atrocity to the world in 2003, when we documented the slaughter and freed fifteen captured dolphins back into the sea. We will never abandon the dolphins at Taiji and we will never abandon the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, no matter how dangerous, daunting, and inconvenient it is, or will be.

I am so proud of what Sea Shepherd is doing and accomplishing around the world. The Cove Guardians have been on the ground in Taiji for nearly two months and will remain on the ground until March. The Sea Shepherd ships are fully prepared to confront the Japanese whalers. Our efforts in the Galapagos over the past twelve years have made an enormous impact. Sea Shepherd France is championing the sharks near Reunion Island and Sea Shepherd is expanding our efforts to protect sharks across the South Pacific.

We are demonstrating that a small group of passionate individuals can challenge enormous economic powers and still triumph over formidable opposition.

We are exercising the power of water. We are like individual drops coming together to form a deluge to overwhelm the enemies of those we defend and protect. Water can overwhelm without causing harm. Water can flow to where it is needed and when the task is completed, water can simply be still and at peace.

Farewell to Russell Means

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Russell MeansRussell Means
Photo: Lloyd Cunningham, Gannett/Argus Leader
Back in March 1973, David Garrick and I traveled down from Canada to South Dakota. We managed to hike and crawl some twenty miles through the brush and snow, passing armed Federal officers until we made our way into the village of Wounded Knee.

I was 22 years old, foolhardy, reckless and admittedly naïve, but I had just read Dee Brown’s "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" and I was determined to support the American Indian Movement (AIM).

I was there to support the occupation of Wounded Knee by AIM and to report on the situation back to Robert Hunter at the Vancouver Sun. I was also there to write about the experience for the Vancouver weekly newspaper, Georgia Straight.

David and I became citizens of the Independent Oglala Nation of Wounded Knee and Pedro Bissonette stamped and signed our Canadian passports to that effect.  David and I spent a month in the village while it was under siege and I volunteered as a medic. With food running low, all but the essential warriors were asked to leave to provide more resources for the small group of defenders that would stay behind.

Endangered Steller Sea Lions Could Become Next Target on the Columbia River as Case for California Sea Lions Returns to Court

Commentary by Sandy McElhaney, Onshore Volunteer, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

California sea lion painfully branded by government workersCalifornia sea lion painfully branded by government workers
Photo: Erwin Vermeulen/Sea Shepherd
The California sea lions at the center of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Dam Guardian program will have their day in court in Portland, Oregon on Friday, October 19.  On this date, lawyers for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) will present oral arguments in a case against the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  HSUS seeks to overturn a permit that was issued to allow the lethal removal of California sea lions at the Bonneville Dam.

In May, a federal judge denied a motion from HSUS for a preliminary injunction to halt the killing of these sea lions on the Bonneville Dam in 2012. The animals are charged with consuming salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act.  While fishermen are allowed to catch up to 17 percent of the prized fish, HSUS maintains that the California sea lions take only about 1 percent of the salmon on the Columbia River.

According to a May 2012 document from NMFS to the Directors of the Oregon and Washington Departments of Wildlife, 39 California sea lions deemed as “predators” of endangered salmon have been killed since 2008 and 11 have been taken into captivity.  This figure does not include California sea lion C021, who was captured on a floating trap in Astoria and killed on August 30, 2012.

Operation Zero Tolerance Set to Launch November 5th

For the first time our crew plans to meet the whaling fleet in the North Pacific

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul WatsonCaptain Paul Watson
Photo: Björn Lexius Photography
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s campaign to defend the whales will begin earlier this year than in previous years with the Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin scheduled to depart from Melbourne on November 5th, when Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT) will officially begin.

Operation Zero Tolerance will be the ninth annual Southern Ocean campaign launched by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Over these nine years, the Japanese whalers have suffered tens of millions of dollars in losses attempting to illegally kill whales in Antarctica's waters.

This time, instead of meeting the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Sea Shepherd will meet the whalers in the North Pacific off of Japan.

This year Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will deploy four ships, a helicopter, eight small RIB’s, three drones and more than one hundred international volunteers.

In addition to the ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Brigitte Bardot, Sea Shepherd will unveil a fourth ship once the campaign is underway. This fourth ship is the Sam Simon, named for the famed television producer and wildlife advocate. The Sam Simon will be deployed in the Southern Ocean to wait for the whaling fleet in the event the whalers elude the other Sea Shepherd ships.

The Bob Barker will depart later in November to meet the whalers and the Steve Irwin at sea along with the Brigitte Bardot.

“It’s time to bring this intervention North, to show the Japanese whalers that we intend to ensure there will be no whales killed this season,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We have never been stronger and the Japanese whalers have never been weaker. We need to take advantage of our strengths and their weaknesses and we need to bring this campaign home – to Japan!”

“The Japanese fleet is surviving at the expense of the Japanese people because of massive allocations of relief funds donated from around the world to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011. We need to shut down this glorified welfare project and to do that we need to once again deny the whalers any ill-gotten gains from their illegal operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” said Bob Barker Captain Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden.

“The key to success in stopping these illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is basic economics. We will negate their profits. Our objective is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically — to bankrupt them,” said Captain Paul Watson. “And we are well on our way to doing just that.”

 

Zero Tolerance
Visit our
Zero Tolerance
site for more information about our
2012-2013 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign

 

Costa Rica Bans Shark Finning. Or Have They?

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson at the helm of the Steve IrwinCaptain Watson at the helm of the Steve Irwin
Photo: Barbara Veiga/Sea Shepherd
The following story is from the Tico Times of Costa Rica. On the surface it looks like a victory for sharks.

Sea Shepherd is not buying it. This is simply smoke and mirrors by President Laura Chinchilla. Costa Rica is simply trying to do damage control for all the attention focused on shark-finning since Costa Rica issued a warrant for the arrest of our founder and president Captain Paul Watson in May of this year.

Why do we think that President Chinchilla is not sincere?

The first reason is that she will continue to allow shark fins from Nicaragua to be shipped to China through Costa Rican ports. This will of course allow for shark fins taken in Costa Rican waters to be smuggled through with the Nicaraguan shipments. The question needs to be asked as to why the shark fins are not being shipped directly from Nicaraguan ports? The answer is that Costa Ricans are heavily involved in this trade of fins from Nicaragua and the shark fin industry of both countries is linked.

The second reason is that 400,000 sharks were slaughtered in Costa Rican waters in 2011 and Costa Rica exported some 30 tons of shark fins. This means some very well connected people are making a great deal of money and that kind of money buys influence.

The third reason is that China has been investing a great deal of money in Costa Rica and China is the major market for shark fins. Chinese shark fin buyers have been very busy in Costa Rica over the last few years.

An Interesting Weekend on Spaceship Earth

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson on the bridge wing of the Steve IrwinCaptain Watson on the bridge wing of the Steve Irwin
File Photo
It has been an interesting weekend. The CTV network in Canada updated and nationally ran a previous profile piece on me on Saturday evening. Although I was not in Paris to personally accept it, I also received the Jules Verne Award on Saturday and that is a very prestigious honor indeed. Someone commented that I have gone underground. I'm not sure that is an accurate description. Can one be underground while being on the water?

I am not a fugitive, however. Germany no longer has a warrant for me because I am no longer in Germany. Costa Rica and Japan have me listed with Interpol on their ‘red list,’ which is not actually an arrest warrant. What it means is that if I enter an Interpol member nation, they will inform Japan and Costa Rica who will then issue an arrest warrant. So until I officially enter a country that is a member of Interpol, there is no warrant outstanding for my arrest. Interpol has zero jurisdiction on the high seas nor has anyone else, which means I am free to roam the ocean at will. Considering that is where the oceanic bad guys are operating, what better place to be if we are to stop them?

Will Woodside 'Smash the Vatican Chalices' of the Goolarabooloo People?

Operation Kimberley Miinimbi update by Sea Shepherd Australia Director Jeff Hansen

Footprint of small theropodFootprint of small theropod.
Photo: Adam Toole
Tonight, Thursday October 4th I sat down to watch a program called Catalyst on Australian ABC TV. The topic for the show was "Kimberley Dinosaurs".

As though we needed another reason to stop Woodside and their plans to put one of the world's largest gas hubs right through the middle of the world's largest humpback whale nursery. Now we find out that Woodside's project will destroy dinosaur tracks that are found nowhere else on the planet.

In the far north of Western Australia, the Kimberley is a region where science has much to learn, where the wildlife is abundant and diverse, and the landscape is wild and unpolluted. However, what is really amazing to learn in this story is that the largest animals on Earth today are swimming past the footprints of the largest animals ever to have walked the planet. Written in sandstone we find a dinosaur story from deep in time, where in most cases the tracks likely represent between a few days and a couple of weeks, and were laid 130 million years ago, providing an amazing snapshot of life as it were millions of years ago.

Sea Shepherd Cries Foul Over Western Australia Shark Cull

It’s Time for the Fear-Mongering to End

by Julie Andersen, Director, Shark Campaigns

Tiger Shark caught in shark netTiger Shark caught in shark net
Photo: Mark Addison
In response to current reports that officials in Western Australia are to begin waging war on sharks by initiating a cull of any sharks swimming near beaches in the region, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is crying foul. The shark cull comes in response to five deaths to surfers due to shark bites over the last year on Western Australia’s beaches. However, given all that is known about sharks, including their quickly dwindling numbers, the critical role they play in our oceans, and the small threat they actually pose to humans in the grand scheme of things, it is hard to fathom that the archaic concept of killing these animals for our “protection” still exists.

For a country like Australia — whose citizens are known for their enlightened, balanced view of our natural world — to declare war on sharks is particularly unsettling.  Officials plan to kill any sharks — including the protected and endangered white shark — swimming near beaches in Western Australia. At a cost of far more than the $6.35 million that the Australian government is investing in the program, it is absolutely shameful.

Fear and Loathing of Sharks in Western Australia

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson,
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

photo_2Captain Paul Watson
Photo: Billy Danger/Sea Shepherd
I was a surfer in the sixties and seventies and I don’t recall a single moment that I ever felt afraid of sharks — the beautiful and unique creatures that Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett is now condemning. I don’t think Barnett was ever a surfer.

Real surfers not only love the ocean, they also understand it. They understand the complex inter-relationships between species, and if they love and understand the ocean they also love and understand sharks.

No, I simply cannot see Barnett astride a surfboard.

He was most likely one of those poor timid souls who sat on the beach, traumatized by having seen the Spielberg travesty called Jaws.

This week, this same premier of Western Australia issued a shark-hating Fatah, calling for their total annihilation.

There Can Be No Honor in Supporting Death

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

SSCS_EC_0196192Photo: Eric Cheng/Sea ShepherdThe Japanese government has turned the entire whaling and dolphin killing controversy into a farcical comedy of errors, overkill, brutality and silliness.

Last week the Mainichi newspaper of Japan ran an article on the abuses of the Tsunami Relief Fund.

This is an excerpt:

A legislator elected from an area hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami is lamenting that "termites are swarming over funds set aside for the restoration of disaster-hit areas, and diverting much of the money to projects irrelevant to disaster recovery." He is talking about projects such as those that make government buildings quake-resistant, the purchase of weapons for the Self-Defense Forces, research on nuclear fusion and subsidies for artists' overseas performances.

On Sept. 9, the "NHK Special" program aired by the public broadcaster reported that funds set aside for disaster recovery projects had been diverted to anti-terrorism and anti-Sea Shepherd measures, amazing residents of disaster-ravaged areas. The week the Japan Times also reported the following:

Last December there was a mild eruption of indignation when it was reported that some of the money earmarked for reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 would go to protect research whaling from interventionists like Sea Shepherd.  Greenpeace and a few other organizations claimed the use of these funds for such a purpose was improper, but the fisheries ministry insisted it was perfectly in line with the policy set forth when the reconstruction budgets were approved, since whaling was integral to the economies of some communities in the disaster-hit area.

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