The Chase Continues as Japanese Whalers Issue Denials and Threats

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

For a solid week, the Nisshin Maru has been running at full speed back and forth across the Southern Ocean.

It is a week that has become increasingly frustrating for the Japanese whalers, as they have been unable to kill whales.  Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has prevented whales from being killed in the Southern Ocean for over five weeks in total since January 12.

The Japanese whalers have not gotten even half their quota, and they have no more than 12 days left in the whaling season, with the autumn storms already moving in. The temperatures are decreasing, and the seas are getting rougher.

Sea Shepherd has had an incredibly successful campaign to protect whales.

Japan has denied firing shots at the Steve Irwin after initially admitting that warning shots were fired. The Australian government is parroting this denial. I don't recall the Australian government telling the media that Sea Shepherd denied the accusations on March 3 that four Japanese had been injured by our rotten butter attacks. Instead, they condemned Sea Shepherd without even speaking with us.

Last year, after Japan accused Sea Shepherd of ramming one of its whaling boats, the Australian Federal Police did a forensic investigation. We heard nothing of the results, because the investigation could only have determined that the Japanese had rammed the Sea Shepherd vessel. Of course, no action was taken against Japan.

In 2005, when Canadian sealers assaulted and bloodied Sea Shepherd crew on the ice floes striking them with seal clubs, breaking cameras, and causing injuries, the Canadian police refused to press charges against the sealers despite the fact that the entire assault was documented on video. The reason given, according to the police, was that Sea Shepherd had provoked the violence by opposing the slaughter of seals. The police then used the video evidence against Sea Shepherd crew members to charge them with the "crime" of approaching and witnessing the killing of the seals, an action that is illegal in Canada.

So needless to say, we don't expect much from the Australian government or any other government, except harassment for trying to do the job that the governments should be doing. The fact that Japan is openly in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order specifically prohibiting whaling operations in these waters--and that Australia has not been able to stop them--must be embarrassing for Australia. The fact that Sea Shepherd makes this embarrassment obvious has not endeared us to the Australian government.

According to Sea Shepherd contacts, the Japanese government is making serious economic threats against Australia, and Australia is trying to stay as far removed from the conflict between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers as possible.

Sea Shepherd does not want to lose focus on what is important here. We expect violence to be used against us. The whalers are violent men. We have been shot at and attacked numerous times during our 30 year history. This latest assault is not anything new.

In response to the accusation that Sea Shepherd provoked the attack, our response is, "Of course, we provoked the attack." Our interception of Japanese illegal whaling activities has indeed provoked the Japanese to become more and more aggressive. The fact that they have failed to kill half their quota and they are running short of killing days is also making them increasingly frustrated.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin carries an independent media crew from Animal Planet onboard. They captured the confrontations on video. The ship carries a medical doctor and two paramedics and they bore witness to the injuries. There are 33 crew in total on the Steve Irwin and they were all witness to the confrontation.

Japan has issued denials and false accusations for three months on everything that has transpired in the Southern Ocean. It continually screams "eco-terrorists" and complains about anti-whaling violence as its whalers ram our ships, shoot at us, and slaughter defenseless whales.

We must never lose sight of the fact that the real violence down here is not between anti-whalers and whalers. It is between whalers and whales--and all one-sided--as the whales are dying in unspeakable agony from the actions of one of the most barbarically cruel industries on earth, the whaling industry!