The World Wide Whale Wars

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

The fight to protect whalekind from the greed of humankind is being fought all over the globe.

The Sea Shepherd's Operation Migaloo is presently opposing illegal Japanese whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.

Norway has just announced they intend to slaughter 1,052 Minke whales this year.

The Danish Faeroe Islands continue to kill some 3,000 Pilot whales on their beaches and more than 22,000 dolphins are viciously butchered on the shores of Japan each year.

The United States Navy keeps trying to test weapons that kill whales and their destructive low frequency sonar devices have already killed hundreds of cetaceans, large and small.

Whales are dying and their killers are constantly attempting to escalate their numbers in their quest to profit from one of the most vicious and merciless forms of hunting in the world.

For hundreds of years, humans have waged bloody war on the whales and their numbers are less than 10% of what they once were. A few species have fallen to less than 1% and some like the Biscayan right whale and the Atlantic Grey have been driven to extinction.

And the killing goes on.

But no longer unopposed. People all over the world are now fighting for the whales and on many fronts.

And there is no doubt that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the leading opponent to the slaughter and certainly the most aggressive and uncompromising opponent of whaling. In fact Sea Shepherd ships are the only thing that whalers seem to fear and when they see us they run like the cruel cowards they are.

Last August another whaler was sunk in Norway - a total write off and a four million dollar loss. That's a total of five Norwegian whalers sunk since 1992 when myself and two other Sea Shepherd crew sent the pirate Norwegian whaler Nybraena to the bottom of the harbor in the Lofoten Islands.

This week a U.S. Federal judge struck down a waiver issued by the White House that would have exempted the U.S. Navy from obeying a court order banning sonar training exercises that endanger whales.

Last month the Japanese whaling fleet was blocked for over three weeks from killing whales and Sea Shepherd will be returning next week to attempt to intervene to stop the harpoons for another three to four weeks.

Last summer, Sea Shepherd's Operation Ragnarok helped to end Icelandic whaling and no whales were killed.

In October, Sea Shepherd joined other activists and surfers led by world class free surfer Dave Rastovich in interfering with the barbaric slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

All over the world Japanese embassies and consulates are being picketed and petitioned by people deeply offended by Japanese whaling policies.

People are writing letters, signing petitions, boycotting Japanese and Norwegian goods and services. Musicians, artists, business people, teachers, lawyers, politicians, and children are standing up and saying that this slaughter is not to be tolerated any longer.

We have a powerful global movement and it is speaking in one voice - STOP THE BLOODY WHALING!

I think back to that day in June 1975 when I was at the helm of the first boat to ever intervene against whaling when Robert Hunter and I put our bodies on the line to protect a pod of Sperm whales from a Soviet harpoon vessel.

Little did I realize then just how powerful the movement would be that we launched that day. Little did I dream that I would be fighting the whale wars for the next thirty-three years.

And we are still at it. After more than 250 voyages, I can look back on a history of interventions that have saved the lives of thousands of whales and tens of thousands of dolphins. Sometimes I am amazed that I am still alive and even more amazed that in all these years we have never had anyone seriously injured or killed and we have never injured or killed any of our opposition.

Next week we return to the battle in the Southern Ocean and once again into the breach as we search out and go head to head with the Japanese whaling fleet. It will be our one ship against their seven vessels, our unarmed volunteer crew against their paid killers with their armed Japanese Coast Guard bodyguards, our passion against their ruthlessness, and our courage against their craven cowardice.

And despite the inequality of our numbers we will win because we now have an international movement to back up our interventions and to continuously hammer the message that whaling by anyone, anywhere, for any reason must be abolished.

We have these vicious killers on the run and we intend to keep them on the run, for the rest of this year and again next year. We will never retreat from this mission and we will never surrender and I swear that we will end this atrocity.

I have a fair ship and a courageous crew and once again we will sail into harm's way and once again we will save the lives of whales.

And for the person standing in front of an Embassy with a protest sign, and the person writing a letter to the editor to oppose whaling and the person writing out a check to finance our interventions and the person standing before the judge pleading for the whales and the person writing for the newspapers or hosting a television news program, I say to you - thank-you.

Movements are built on diversity both in strategies and tactics and the strength of a movement lies in that diversity. We have that diversity.

And we will win, for the whales and for the honour of humanity, because we will be the people that future generations will look back and thank for having the courage, the dedication and the passion to ensure that whales will survive and that they will not live in a future where the whales will be viewed the same way that we now view dinosaurs - as large fantastic wondrous creatures that went extinct.