The Rocky Whaling Fleet Horror Show

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

First they took a step to the West then a jump to the North then a leap to the East and now a hop to the West. The Japanese whaling fleet is all over the charts down here in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The good news is that they have not killed a single whale for at least 16 days and it does not look like whaling will resume for the next few days as they continue to run, burning up fuel without profit. The Japanese whalers are reporting that they are "terrified" of the Sea Shepherd "vegan eco-terrorist pirates."

It's amazing what a few well placed stink bombs can do. The big brave whale killing samurai cetacean serial killers run like little Japanese school girls at the approach of the black hulled Steve Irwin.

This year the Japanese whalers are finding that the vast Southern Ocean is not as vast as they have been used to. Whale defenders have become as seasoned in these remote waters as the whale killers and with the Greenpeace ship Esperanza's teeth sunk firmly into the hind quarters of the Nisshin Maru and Sea Shepherd's ship Steve Irwin constantly biting the heels of the catcher boats, the dogs of protest are screaming havoc and the pursuit has transformed  the normally efficient Japanese whale killing machines into a chaotic bunch of keystone whalers scampering over the swells and stumbling around icebergs in a scattered and senseless panic.

The Japanese Prime Minister is crying woe in the Diet. New Zealand's Prime Minister is crying foul as the whalers scurried briefly towards the Ross Sea. The Prime Minister of Australia is somewhat rudderless in his directions on the issue but at least the government ship Oceanic Viking is taking pictures of ---- fleeing whalers. Hundreds of people turned out to protest a Japanese government ship docking in Bermuda, there have been protests in New York, in Budapest, in Rome and all over the planet. Toyota sales are down, Japanese Embassies are being besieged by petitions and protests, the Australian courts have slapped the Japanese on the wrists and barred them from killing whales off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory. And in London a 14 year old girl and her father were arrested by the Japanese for refusing to leave the Japanese Embassy and are facing 6 months in prison.

How far is this going to go before the Japanese government sees the writing on the wall and does the right thing? I don't know what Japan is paying out in public relations. I understand it is a great deal of money but they have to be asking themselves just what are they getting for their investment? Japan's international reputation is sinking fast in a sea of whale and dolphin blood.

Conservationists are succeeding in bringing this controversy into the international spotlight. It is no longer out of sight and out of mind. Killing endangered whales in a whale sanctuary is no different then walking onto the plains of the Serengeti and gunning down 50 rhinos or marching into Kruger National Park to blow away a thousand elephants. Why do we condemn poor Africans for killing Mountain Gorillas for bush meat yet allow the wealthy Japanese to slaughter the aquatic equivalent of bush meat without the same level of outrage and indignation?

We are succeeding in mobilizing that righteous indignation and moral outrage and we are seeing a growing passionate movement rising in defense of not just the whales but of all species that are being plundered from the oceans.

The whaling industry has no place in the 21st Century and certainly not in a sophisticated nation like Japan. Whaling is a primitive, cruel, economically senseless and barbaric practice. What is a major industrialized super power doing killing whales anyway? The only other people involved in this anachronistic bit of sadistic maritime madness are a few frustrated inbred Vikings in Northern Norway and the Danish Faeroe Islands. Even the Icelanders have seen fit to pack the harpoons away.

But pride being pride and nationalistic pride being the most perverse pride of all, Japan is planning on building an even bigger, better and more efficient factory ship that can process three times the number of whales than the Nisshin Maru. Blind, stubborn jingoistic nationalism is what is driving the Japanese government to defend an industry that represents an insignificant contribution to the Japanese economy at the cost of tarnishing the reputation of all otherwise decent Japanese citizens.

Meanwhile the spectacle down here at the bottom of the world is a tragic comedy set on a massive stage with a dozen ships zig-zagging across thousands of miles of ocean chasing each other in a bizarre battle of stinkocidal bombers, bush whacking inflatable boats, helicopter acrobatics, dueling headlines, and ridiculous charges of terrorism and piracy.

What is amazing is that no human has been killed in this dramatic frenzy of hysteria. No one has even been injured and despite all the pontificating about terrorism, no property has been damaged.

There is violence of course. The agonizing slow death of the whales is violence at its most extreme as these highly intelligent, socially complex, endangered and sophisticated animals drown in their own blood and vomit after their internal organs have been shredded by explosive harpoons driven deep into their defenseless bodies by powerful harpoon cannons. The thousands of gallons of blood spewed into the ocean is testament to the intensity of real violence being carried out in these waters - this so-called whale sanctuary!

The Japanese whalers will not get their quota this year and it will have cost them a great deal more money for their operations than any year before. And they still have next year to deal with. If we can get the support, I intend to bring two ships back here for the 2008/2009 season with a longer range helicopter and a crew of committed and dedicated volunteers willing to take the required risks to keep these cowardly whale poachers on the run.