The Impossible Mission Continues

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

On the ragged edge of the world I'll roam And the home of the whale shall be my home And saving seals on the remote ice and snows The end of my voyage... who knows, who knows?

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is in the middle of what is rapidly becoming an impossible mission.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is presently off the coast of Antarctic searching for the Japanese whaling fleet.

The cards are stacked against us in this pursuit but we will continue on for as long as our fuel reserves allow us to do so.

Support in this effort to stop illegal Japanese whaling is faltering. The government of Australia has reneged on their election promise to intervene, they decided to not send naval vessels and then decided to send the Customs vessel Oceanic Viking which still has not departed from Fremantle. Their plan to monitor humpback populations has been abandoned because "it is too late in the season." And low altitude aerial surveillance does not look like it will be approved until after the whaling season.

Greenpeace is down off the Antarctic coast somewhere. Sea Shepherd Executive director Kim McCoy spoke with the captain of the Esperanza.  He officially refused our offer of cooperation, and our offer to share our helicopter with Greenpeace and told us that if we find the Japanese fleet first, he was not interested in receiving the coordinates from us. He said that we needed to file a report with their office in Amsterdam and if the office decided to relay any information he would accept it from them as he is not authorized to receive information from any third party source.

Our proposal was for Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd to put our two ships on a parallel course one hundred miles apart and fly our helicopter between the two vessels to broaden the search pattern. It makes perfect strategic sense. Greenpeace is not interested, saying that Sea Shepherd has no business down here and they refuse to acknowledge our existence.

Well, enough of that - we tried our best to cooperate and our offers have been consistently refused.

The Japanese whale killers on the other hand have the full logistical support of their wealthy government. Our movements are being monitored by both the Japanese government and the U.S. Naval Intelligence Department with our coordinates routinely provided to the Japanese whaling fleet.

However we will persist in our search as we thread a course between massive icebergs at the bottom of the world in a quest to track down the largest and most vicious killing machines on the high seas.

There are nearly seven billion people on this planet and less than a hundred are actively searching for these Cetacean serial killers. Some are on our ship the Steve Irwin, others on a Greenpeace ship and some are on land doing support and back-up.

Surely there are people with the means to secure the information that can stand up for the whales and secretly forward coordinates to us.

If we can find them we can stop them. The Japanese whalers have already slaughtered over a third of their quota and we believe they are killing humpbacks despite their claim that they are not.

The question must be asked again. How is it that these whalers can kill endangered whales in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global ban on commercial whaling in the Antarctic Treaty Zone where commercial activity is prohibited?

Why are governments allowing this crime to continue? Why are governments including Australia refusing to support non-governmental efforts to stop this illegal activity?

Well, we know the answers. Greed! We live in a world where international trade trumps wildlife conservation. Where economics dictates the rule of law and where discrimination in the application of the law depends upon the wealth of the offending nation.

Cuban communism is bad whereas Chinese communism is good. Indonesian and Uruguayan illegal fishing is bad whereas Japanese whaling is okay. It's a world of double standards and unfair application of the law, where the poor nations are prosecuted and the rich nations are encouraged to violate the law in their continued rape of the oceans and the planet.

This is our impossible mission. But sometimes, just sometimes, the impossible becomes possible.

Nonetheless we have no choice but to do all we can with the resources available to us and that is what we are doing as we continue to slide past the icebergs upon a dark frigid sea in our Quixotic quest to stop the flow of the blood of the whales into the cold remote waters of the Southern Oceans.

Ever onward and forward through the dark waters under the never setting sun we go - we may just pull this off yet.