Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Watson onboard the SSS Steve IrwinCaptain Watson onboard the SSS Steve Irwin
Photo: Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd
This week is my birthday week and a wonderful week indeed because I received the best of all possible gifts. The deck of the Steve Irwin is again under my feet. I have an awesome crew and our ship is on course for Antarctica.

It has been a long journey from Germany to where I am now.

Across two oceans and countless rivers, over three mountain ranges, across a desert, over lakes, and through dozens of cities and towns.  A total of 9,000 miles covered from Frankfurt, Germany to the Southern Pacific Ocean.

A trifle inconvenient without a passport or any form of identification and all the more difficult without credit cards or access to ATM machines, without access to the internet or even a cell phone.

Dark to the point of invisible but it was this invisibility that has kept me out of the clutches of Japan — despite their resources, their small army of lawyers and their ability to use their economic clout to place me on the Interpol Red List on politically motivated bogus charges.

It has been seven months since the Germans detained me at Frankfurt airport and four months since I left Germany.

I would not have made it here without the loyalty and resourcefulness of supporters, friends, and family.

And because of them, I now have returned to the Steve Irwin, traveling primarily through the largest and most free nation in the world – The Ocean!

I can’t go into details of my travels over the last four months.  I may have to do it again sometime in the future.

More importantly, we need to now focus on the immediate future and not the recent past.

Our ships and our crew are on the move. The Steve Irwin and I are at sea. The Bob Barker left on November 30th from Sydney. The Brigitte Bardot is also at sea and the Sam Simon remains in an undisclosed location amidst rumors and speculations as to what and where it is. All I can say is that Locky MacLean, a citizen of both France and Canada, is the Captain.

I am now the Captain of the Steve Irwin once again. Peter Hammarstedt, a citizen of Sweden and the USA, is the Captain on the Bob Barker and captaining the Brigitte Bardot is world famous French sailor, the legendary Jean Yves Terlain.

Four ships with four captains and officers and crew, 120 people from 24 nations: Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

The objective of Operation Zero Tolerance is to intercept and intervene against the intent of the Japanese whaling fleet to murder 1,035 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Our purpose is twofold: to save the lives of whales and to cost the Japanese whaling industry as much as we possibly can in financial losses. Last year, we cost them roughly $22 million U.S. dollars despite the fact that they received a $30 million dollar subsidy stolen from the victims of the Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund.

And as always, our actions are undertaken in the Buddhist spirit of Hayagriva, where we do not cause physical injury to our opponents. We target their intentions and thwart their lethal ambitions, but we never harm them. Unfortunately, they do not share our compassion and thus the risks our crews face are considerable.

We have never been stronger, nor more determined. Our dedication to defending the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is undiminished, for we know that the key to success is persistence, patience and perseverance.

We have succeeded in bankrupting the whaling fleet. We have sunk them economically. Now we need to sink them politically.

Back in 1977 we opposed the slaughter of whales in Western Australia when Australia was a stubborn whaling nation. Today, Australia is the leading nation in the world defending the whales. That gives me great hope for Japan. Japan can be a great force for good with marine conservation, and more and more Japanese are supporting us every year. I believe that one day Japan will be a nation that also protects the whales and no longer kills them, just like Australia has become today.

Whaling is becoming unpopular in Japan. Only a few years ago, the Japanese whaling fleet would depart from the dock with cheering crowds, bands, ribbons and widespread media coverage.

They departed this week from an obscure location, without fanfare; shamefully sneaking out to sea for fear that we would see them.

Earlier in the month we issued a statement saying that we would confront them off the coast of Japan and apparently they believed it. Their Coast Guard mobilized and they went to a great deal of expense and effort to sneak quietly out of port.

Of course we had no intention of heading North at all. We are waiting for them in the South, but before they reach the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Our ships will spread out to guard the approaches to the Sanctuary and once the Nisshin Maru is found we will block any attempt to undertake whaling operations.

I do hope that this will be the last year we must make the long, expensive and dangerous voyage to the Southern Ocean but we will return again next year and the year after that, and every year thereafter until the whale killing is ended.

We have become the guardians of the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and we will never surrender to these killers.

A special thank you to all of you who have donated to Sea Shepherd and made it possible for our ships to be where we are now. We still need your help to refuel the vessels to allow us to keep our stations down here at the bottom of the planet as the guardians of the great whales.

We do what we do so the whales may live. We do what we do for the children of the future, so that they may live in a world with whales, for when the whales are no more, the sea will die and when the sea is no more – we, all of us, will die!

As I stand on the bridge wing of the Steve Irwin looking over the vast inky blue shroud of the ocean, I see between the sea and the amber cloud speckled golden sky — a single spout directly ahead and that spout symbolizes life.

As the sun sets to the west, a flash of green sparks on the horizon and I feel that there can be no place I would rather be or anyplace that I could be more happy than upon these life-sustaining waters on a quest to defend Leviathan.

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