Sea Shepherd Commentary & Editorial articles from 2012 and earlier.

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


Protecting Great Blue Whales in California

Commentary by Marnie Gaede, Director and Vice President

I have recently learned of a great effort to protect endangered populations of Blue Whale and other magnificent whales from being struck by oil tankers, cargo ships, and cruise lines along the California Coast.  These whales' migration route overlaps with one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes that leads to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  These ships hauling tons of people and goods cross over critical feeding habitat for migrating whales.  Each year more whales are killed or cut to ribbons by massive propellers.

The shipping industry believes the cost to them would be too great to move transit lanes away from the whale feeding grounds.  Voluntary efforts have been ineffective, and ships continue to kill whales.  The US Coast Guard acknowledged the need to move shipping lanes to protect whales in a Port Access Study of 2011, but the US Navy objected to a shift through Point Mugu Naval Air Station waters even though oil-tankers are routinely routed through that area.

The Great Whales Conservancy is petitioning the US Government to protect Blue Whales from the threat of extinction.  Death by ship strike is as a lethal as a harpoon, and the numbers of Blue Whales continues to be depleted.  Further losses and a reduction of genetic diversity of the species would be a tragedy.  A similar conflict was addressed between the North Atlantic Right Whale, and transit lanes and speed adjustments are in place and saving lives.

This is an urgent matter and I am hoping that my fellow members of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will sign an important petition asking NOAA, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of the Navy to establish commercial shipping lanes through Point Mugu Naval Air Station Waters to protect the Blue Whale from extinction and all migratory whales from a preventable horrific death by ship strike.

Please visit the Great Whale Conservancy website, watch the video on ship strikes and sign their petition to help move the shipping lanes further from the coast of California and critical whale feeding areas.

Life in the Namib Desert

Commentary by Rosie Kunneke and Dinielle Stockigt
Operation Desert Seal team members

Operation Desert Seal crew in the Namib Desert.Operation Desert Seal crew in the Namib Desert
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Growing up in Africa, camping out is part of your childhood. Sleeping in tents in designated camping sites is exciting and being so close to nature makes you realize what is important in life. Namibia’s desert, however, is a tough and unforgiving place. Home to ever-changing sand dunes, which bring winds that can fill your lungs with sand if you don’t cover your mouth with some kind of cloth. Namib Desert means “place of no people” in the local KhoiKhoi language. This was our home for several weeks.

Our home was not the normal camping site either. No, the desert became our basecamp where we would plan our missions, configure our equipment, and keep an eye on the opponent. Our opponent does not want us to expose their brutal seal murdering ways to the world. We will risk it all to stand up and fight for the Seals.

Camping out in the harsh Namibia Desert without being noticed (but still close enough to the target where security levels are very high) is what we on the Operation Desert Seal team would describe as “next level stuff”. Forget all the luxuries you sometimes take for granted such as electricity, running water, toilet facilities, shower, etc.

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

The Nisshin Maru in dry dockThe Nisshin Maru in dry dock
Photo: Sea Shepherd
It looks like the Japanese whaling fleet is ready to rumble.

They fired their opening shot today by having the United States 9th District Court issue an injunction against Sea Shepherd and Captain Paul Watson, specifically.

The court order was a single page e-mail granting the injunction despite the fact that the preliminary injunction was denied in February 2012 by Judge Richard Jones in Seattle.

In a completely unprecedented move, the preliminary injunction was granted by three judges on the 9th Circuit before a hearing has taken place and before the trial on this matter slated for September 2013.

It is a complex situation whereby a United States Court is issuing an injunction against Dutch and Australian vessels carrying an international crew, operating out of Australia and New Zealand in international waters and the waters of the Australian Antarctic Economic Zone. In addition the Court has ignored the fact that the Japanese whalers are in contempt of a court order by the Australian Federal Court and the whaling takes place in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

What is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society going to do?

Sea Shepherd’s position is clear: Our ships, officers and crew are 100% committed to achieving a zero-kill quota on whales. This is Operation Zero Tolerance and 120 crewmembers from 26 different nations are prepared to risk their lives to defend endangered and protected whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Sea Shepherd is committed to defending the integrity of this internationally established sanctuary.

What is the purpose of a whale sanctuary codified into international law if Japan can kill whales within its territorial waters while in contempt of the Australian Federal Court?

We expect that the Japanese whaling fleet was waiting for this ruling before departing from Japan. They will find when they arrive that we will still be there guarding the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary with our ships and our lives.

“We will defend these whales as we have for the last eight years – non-violently and legally,” said Captain Paul Watson.

For the whales,
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Captains, Crew, Directors and Staff

The Japanese whaling fleet's factory vessel, the Nisshin MaruThe Japanese whaling fleet's factory vessel, the Nisshin Maru
Photo: Sea Shepherd

The Nisshin MaruThe Nisshin Maru
Photo: Sea Shepherd

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

Support Builds for Protection of Hawaii’s Coral Reef Ecosystem

Commentary by Robert Wintner, member of Sea Shepherd Board of Directors

Bi-color anthiusBi-color anthius
Photo: Robert Wintner
Trafficking in reef wildlife for the pet trade is not sustainable no matter what an aquarium collector says. Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Director William Aila was an aquarium collector. Here’s the official position of DLNR:

“Aquariums introduce people who would not otherwise be able to see marine life and reefs to care for them, and therefore support the reefs without ever having physically being on a reef… …reef tanks advertise and stimulate visitors to come to Hawaii.”

The problem is that aquarium fish die quickly, requiring more fish. Hawaii reefs are in decline, yet William Aila’s orchestration of aquarium trade entrenchment in Hawaii continues with these ‘rules packages’. Aquarium collectors and wholesalers wrote these rules, and after these so-called hearings to ventilate public outrage, aquarium collector Aila will pass these rules with unanimous consent.

Something Fishy Continues in Costa Rica and Germany

Commentary by Captain Alex Cornelissen

Sea Shepherd crew approaches the VaraderoSea Shepherd crew approaches the Varadero
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Last Friday we were informed of a decision that gives irrefutable evidence that the case against Captain Paul Watson is political.

Since Captain Watson’s arrest in Germany, our legal defense team has been working tirelessly to gather evidence to get the Costa Rican charges against Captain Watson dropped. Our Costa Rican lawyer presented two excellent motions before the court and even a constitutional motion. All these proposals were denied with very weak justification.

Our latest motion was denied Friday. In this document we have provided a very clear argument that Captain Watson is being charged with a crime that does not even exist in Costa Rican law. He is being charged with danger to shipwreck with injury. There is no such thing as danger to shipwreck with injury. What is listed is: 1) danger to shipwreck, 2) shipwreck, and 3) shipwreck with injury. These represent three different crimes, all with different penalties. Captain Watson is being prosecuted for shipwreck with injuries even though an actual shipwreck never took place. We are not even arguing the absurdity of the so-called injury (one of the fishermen claims he slipped and broke his finger). We are arguing the wrongful application of the article in question, further adding that the article was drafted in the interest of public safety and public transportation. A collision (hardly a potential shipwreck) between a privately owned fishing boat and a Sea Shepherd vessel certainly does not fall in that category (we are not even arguing who was at fault).