Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorial articles from 2012 and earlier.

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


Operation: Infinite Patience 2012-2013 Has Begun

Commentary by Melissa Sehgal

The “2012-2013 Taiji Dolphin Drive Season” is once again upon us and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians are already on the ground in Taiji. We have arrived to the familiar darkness that looms over this small town that tries so hard to disguise the bloodshed while tourists continue to swarm the captive dolphin facilities. Taiji is definitely the unhappiest place for dolphins.

The slaughter officially begins September 1st and once again the eyes of the world will be focused on Taiji. The dolphin killers are preparing their boats, the Fisherman’s Union is preparing their tarps to cover up their shameful deeds, and barricades and police surveillance have multiplied. Taiji goes to great lengths to keep the world from viewing their blood-filled waters.

Costa Rican Government Risks Nation’s Eco-Friendly Reputation to Protect Shark-Finners

By Captain Alex Cornelissen,  Director of Operations, Sea Shepherd Galápagos

Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director, Alex Cornelissen, inspects the seized catch of an illegal shark fishing operation in Galapagos National ParkSea Shepherd Galapagos Director, Alex Cornelissen, inspects the seized catch of an illegal shark fishing operation in Galapagos National ParkThe Costa Rican government is making feeble attempts to hold up the illusion they care about Costa Rican waters. Ever since Captain Watson was arrested in Germany and heavy criticism befell upon President Chinchilla’s administration for this clearly politically motivated court case, reports have been issued in the Costa Rican media about small scale finning operations being apprehended. Whereas this seems to be a positive development, truth is that it is nothing but a smokescreen. The Costa Rican government is not doing anything to stop illegal shark finning in their waters. It seems that now not only Sea Shepherd is convinced of this, so is the nation’s own media, as illustrated in this recent article from the Costa Rican Times.

Plastic Beaches

Commentary by Gary Stokes, Sea Shepherd Hong Kong

Nurdles are often mistaken for fish eggs and eaten by many birds and fish. Photo: Gary StokesNurdles are often mistaken for fish eggs and eaten by many birds and fish. Photo: Gary StokesFollowing the aftermath of Typhoon Vincent this week, the worst typhoon to hit Hong Kong in 15 years, hundreds of 25kg plastic sacks filled with pre-production plastic pellets (aka Nurdles) produced by SINOPEC Petroleum Hainan are now washing up on the beaches of Hong Kong. Tracey Read of the local environmental group DB Green made the discovery on Wednesday July 25th, 2012 and alerted Sea Shepherd Hong Kong to this disaster. Tracey has just returned from the 5 Gyres Algalita expedition, tracking the tsunami debris and plastic pollution across the Pacific.

So far we have discovered 250 plus sacks, of which approximately 50% have spilled their deadly contents into the ecosystem. This is the equivalent of a SOLIDIFIED OIL SPILL. Each sack contains approximately 1 million pellets. The 250 sacks were all on our local beach, we have put out a call to action asking ocean lovers all over Hong Kong to visit their local beaches and check them for these "white plastic sacks of death," and if found to report them to Sea Shepherd Hong Kong who are working with local authorities on the cleanup operation.

Whaling in Norway

Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen

The whale-killing ship, Reinefangst -  photo: Erwin VermeulenThe whale-killing ship, Reinefangst - photo: Erwin VermeulenYou can’t say Spitsbergen is unspoiled. The massacres perpetrated by the Dutch and other European countries since the 17th century made sure that even now the once plentiful Bowhead whale is rarely spotted among these islands in the Arctic. There are beaches here, full of the bleached and weathered skulls and bones of hundreds of slaughtered belugas, and the walrus was almost hunted to local extinction.  Still it is the scenic beauty and remaining wildlife that today attracts thousands of tourists to these snow-covered peaks jutting from the cold waters.

You would think that mankind and especially Norway, that governs these isles under the geo-political name of Svalbard, would have drawn lessons from that ignorant, destructive past and that the tourist money would be an extra incentive to protect all that is left…Not so!

There are still hunting seasons here, still arctic foxes are being trapped for their fur and, yes, the whaling continues.

Therefore, it was hardly a surprise when I sailed into Hornsund in the South West of Spitsbergen last month, to find in that bay the whale poachers Ann-Brita and Reinefangst with their murderous harpoons uncovered. Even though it has been almost two decades since Sea Shepherd and the Norwegian whale poachers met steel to steel, that does not mean we do not keep track of what they are up to.

Korean Whaling

Mother and calf Minke Whales hauled aboard the Nisshin Maru. Photo: Australian CustomsMother and calf Minke Whales hauled aboard the Nisshin Maru. Photo: Australian CustomsSouth Korea is a nation of contradictions when it comes to the killing of whales. For years Korea has criticized Japan for using science as an excuse for commercial whaling.

This week however, at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama, South Korea announced that they want to begin a scientific research project, reasoning that if Japan can get away with pulling the wool over the world’s eyes than they can do so also. The difference being that Korea is openly saying that scientific research whaling is a bogus excuse for commercial whaling but if the excuse works for Japan it will also work for Korea.

South Korea has their own sly way of killing whales. For years they have allowed Korean fishermen to “harvest” whales caught “accidently” in their fishing nets. As a result the incidents of whales caught accidently in fishing nets has exceeded the number of whales caught in fishing nets throughout the rest of the world.

The Party is Getting Old in Panama

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

I have an excuse for not attending the current meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Germany is not allowing me to leave their wonderful nation because Costa Rica wants me extradited for the horrendous “crime” of saving sharks a decade ago.

I don’t think I will be missing much other than the satisfaction of terrifying the Japanese delegates who tend to grow frightfully pale when they see me at this annual feud between whale huggers and whale killers.

I do grow weary of the annual charade now playing out in Panama. Once again the impotent, greedy, ruthless forces of anthropocentrism and anthrocultural imperialism gather to sit in judgment of the magnificent minds in our oceans.

Who is really in charge in Costa Rica?

Commentary by Captain Alex Cornelissen

Dead sharks from an illegal shark finning operationAbout a month ago I was asked to fly to Costa Rica and meet with politicians and our local lawyer to see if we could find a solution for the insane court case Captain Watson is being dragged into. I met with the Minister of Environment and several of his staff and in a closed-door meeting we came to several agreements. One of which was that we would not talk to the press about this. To my surprise, two days later I read an article in a Costa Rican paper quoting word for word what I said in the meeting; so much for closed-door meetings with Costa Rican’ politicians.

Our strategy from the beginning of this case has been to try to work with the authorities in Costa Rica. Despite the desire of the vast majority of our supporters, we have not only kept quiet about a tourist boycott, we have even advised against the boycott believing we can find a solution that will help Costa Rica, Sea Shepherd and most importantly, the sharks. We have offered to return to Costa Rica and continue where we were stopped ten years ago. Our offer even went further, I personally promised we would fund and install an AIS network around Cocos Island; similar to what Sea Shepherd has done in the Galapagos. After all we have the knowledge and the experience to do so. Such a network would instantly improve control of Cocos Island National Park. But apparently there are things happening around Cocos Island that the Costa Rican government does not want the world to see.

The Mystery of Cocos Island

By Captain Paul Watson

There is an agenda here that remains a mystery,
A decade ago we saved hundreds of sharks.
Of this event we have a documented history,
In our efforts to defend Costa Rican marine parks.

With permission of Guatemala we ended the slaughter,
Without causing injury, death or destruction,
We made a powerful film entitled Sharkwater,
To shark finning we became a major obstruction.

Sea Lions Aren’t the Dam Problem on the Columbia River!

Commentary by Sandy McElhaney

Sea Lions in Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Kimber HamiltonSea Lions in Astoria, Oregon.
Photo: Kimber Hamilton
On April 3, 2012, Oregon and Washington began an annual cull of California sea lions on the Columbia River.  State workers brand the marine mammals with searing hot irons, shoot them with rubber bullets, and kill them by lethal injection -- all for the crime of eating “endangered” salmon.  As horrific as these acts are, they are authorized and supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Since the cull began in 2008, at least 39 sea lions have been killed and 11 are in captivity.

Salmon fishing is big business on the Columbia River. Sea lions are tortured and killed for eating little more than 1 percent of the annual salmon run.  Conversely, commercial, tribal, and recreational fishermen are encouraged to catch about 17 percent of the endangered fish.  Anglers have long complained that sea lions compete with them for salmon. Their solution is to get rid of the sea lions. They have full backing by local politicians and the federal government.

Namibia's Shameful Secret

By Rosie Kunneke, Nikki Botha and Dinielle Stöckigt (Sea Shepherds from South Africa and Operation Desert Seal team members)

Sea Shepherd representatives with Namibian Ombudsman, John Walters (L)Sea Shepherd representatives with Namibian Ombudsman, John Walters (L)Every year it is the same heart-breaking story. Come June/July, the powers that be in Namibia give their blessing for the start of the cruelest seal cull in the world. Up to 90,000 seal pups are herded for cruel slaughter. The stress and confusion the club wielding men cause the colony of seals is beyond any decent person’s imagination. Yet, the worst is still to come. Young pups still trying to grow from their mother’s sweet milk are mercilessly hit over their heads and all over their bodies. Then, whether they are alive or dead, they are stabbed and slashed open with knives, mother’s milk running from their mouths and noses and their blood freely flowing from their writhing little bodies. Mothers call out to their dead and injured pups to no avail. The male seals, also called bulls, are then shot through the head with a gun. A bullet to their brain ends life for 6,000 – 7,000 of these males. Their agony is short lived compared to that of the babies in the colony. The permit holders who get the permits for slaughter from the government say it is for profit, however, the government claims it is population control because the seals consume too many fish, and that the seal fur industry provides employment.