Australian Environment Minister Stands Strong Against Whaling

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

From the point of view of a conservationist, it is rare to find a politician with the courage to stand up for what he or she believes.

I think this week that Senator Ian Campbell, the Minister of the Environment for Australia has demonstrated that he is not your average wishy-washy waffling politician. He says what he means and he stands by what he says. No back peddling, no excuses, and no regret.

Good on ya, Senator Campbell.

Now let's clear up some silly Japanese public relations propaganda.

The Australian media has been reporting that the Japanese are upset about a story that the Australian Environment Minister is supporting Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Japanese whalers have told Australia's anti-whaling Environment Minister Ian Campbell to come clean about his ties to the provocative conservation group Sea Shepherd.
                                                                  - The Melbourne Age, Dec 15, 2006

This is just plain silly. The Environment Minister for Australia has no ties to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I'm sure if I asked him to join our Advisory Board alongside Pierce Brosnan, Martin Sheen, Dr. Roger Payne, and other notable supporters of Sea Shepherd, he would refuse. In fact, he is not even a member although we would certainly welcome him.

My conversation with Senator Campbell focused primarily on his concern for safety in the Southern Oceans. I thought it was very responsible of him.

Senator Campbell has reportedly offered Australia's Antarctic bases to the Sea Shepherd crew in the event of an emergency as the group's ships Farley Mowat and The Leviathan take on the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters this year.

"He apparently also assured Watson that in the event of emergency that Sea Shepherd could contact the Australian Antarctic bases for support," Mr Nakajima said in a statement.

"This is a massive u-turn by Senator Campbell. He's showing his contempt for international law and the International Whaling Commission (IWC)."

JWA president Keiichi Nakajima

                                                                - The Melbourne Age, Dec 15, 2006

I believe that the Japanese would also be able to use the Antarctic bases in the event of an emergency. What do they expect - that Australia would refuse the use of the bases for emergencies? Perhaps Japan would be so irresponsible but I don't think Australia is as callous. This means that according to Nakajima, offering emergency assistance to Australian and British Commonwealth and allied citizens is a "massive u-turn" and shows contempt for international law and the IWC.

Unbelievable! The nation of Japan has shown blatant and irresponsible contempt for the IWC and international law by killing whales in defiance of a global moratorium on commercial whaling, targeting endangered species, killing whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary ,and refueling their ships in the Antarctic Treaty zone in clear violation of the treaty. Yet they condemn Senator Campbell for making an offer of emergency support.

Senator Campbell never told me that he approved of Sea Shepherd's tactics. He told me that we share the same goal and that is to stop the slaughter of whales in the Antarctic Sanctuary.

It seems that the Japanese government is inclined to hysterical hissy fits, and over-the-top evaluations in their emotional and illogical defense of criminal whaling.

Mr Nakajima said that, at the IWC's annual meeting in St Kitts and Nevis this year, Australia had co-sponsored a resolution aimed at both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace campaigns in the Antarctic.

I have read this resolution and nowhere within the text of the Resolution entitled (Resolution 2006-2 - Resolution on the safety of vessels engaged in whaling and whale research-related activities) does it mention Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or Greenpeace. It is simply a general resolution on safety.

I have assured both New Zealand and Australia that Sea Shepherd does not pose a threat to loss of life or injury to any person. We have an unblemished history of never having caused nor sustained a single injury in 30 years of operations on the high seas.

The Japanese whalers, however, have fired harpoons over the heads of protestors, attacked boats and crews with spears and high pressure water cannons and have shown total disregard for human safety. The resolution was aimed at all parties involved without specifically citing names. As usual with the IWC it was pretty vague.

"Ian Campbell has taken this resolution, and thrown it out the window.

"In one move, he's shown his contempt for the IWC and for international law, and thrown his support behind illegal actions and eco-terrorism, " said JWA president Keiichi Nakajima 

                                                              - The Melbourne Age, Dec 15, 2006

This, of course, is a gross accusation. Senator Campbell has done no such thing. He was, in fact, calling me to seek assurances that we understood the resolution and to express his concern for safety. What the Japanese are really upset about is that Senator Campbell has expressed his revulsion and disgust for whaling.

"I'm happy to be judged on my credentials of trying to save whales versus the Japanese credentials of slaughtering them,'' Senator Campbell told reporters in Perth today.

"I'm wishing him [Captain Watson] a safe passage and I'm also reinforcing my message in a one-on-one conversation that respect for law of the sea, respect for human life and respect for the safety of ships at sea is incredibly important,'' Senator Campbell said to the Australian media. "Paul Watson and I both share a passionate belief in the view that whaling should come to an end, it should be relegated to the dustbin of history."

In the eyes of the Japanese whalers and their government this is what has really made them angry. The Australian Minister of the Environment is reflecting the opinions of the vast majority of Australians who are opposed to the criminal whaling activities of Japanese whalers in the Southern Oceans.

Senator Campbell does condemn eco-terrorism and that is why he is condemning illegal Japanese whaling, an operation that is terrorizing the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Eco-terrorism is terrorism against the environment and it is the Japanese whalers that are guilty of eco-terrorism.

Sea Shepherd is not going down to the coast of Antarctic to protest whaling, we are going down there to obstruct and intervene against whale poachers. The Japanese whaling operation is grossly illegal, horrifically cruel, and morally unacceptable. Opposing their activities is the ecologically responsible thing to do.