Captain Paul Watson Responds to the Director-General of the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research

On December 27th, Hiroshi Hatanaka the Director General of the Institute for Cetacean Research  (should be called the "Institute of Commerce") sent an open letter to Greenpeace Japan. In the letter he accused Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of piracy and made hysterical accusations of eco-terrorism.

Of course, it is now routine for every ecologically-destructive industry in the world to label their critics as eco-terrorists so that comment is easily dismissed. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has never been convicted of any felony crime, and from what I understand eco-terrorism is a felony. Hatanaka may have his opinions but his opinions have no basis in fact.

If I am an eco-terrorist then why was I not arrested for such in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, or Canada? Why is my ship flying the flag of Canada? Why am I traveling freely on my Canadian passport as a resident of the United States?

Mr. Hatanaka should investigate the facts before he makes accusations that he cannot substantiate.

Hatanaka threatens us with piracy charges yet there has been no attempt to board and loot any Japanese whaling vessel that I am aware of.

The true meaning of "eco-terrorism" is terrorism against the environment. This is exactly what Japan is doing. The Japanese whale extermination plan labeled JARPA II will slaughter 17,000 piked whales, 800 fin whales, and 800 humpback whales over the next few years. This is eco-terrorism.

Japan is a bully nation that takes what it wants and threatens any who oppose it. This is what they are doing now.

It is Japan that is violating international conservation law. The following list summarizes their violations:

1. The Japanese are whaling in violation of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling. The IWC scientific committee does not recognize this bogus research that the Japanese are using as an excuse.

2. The Japanese are killing whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary for whales.

3. The Japanese are killing whales unlawfully in the Australian Antarctic Territory

4. The Japanese are targeting fin whales this year and humpback whales next year. These are endangered species and thus this is a violation of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

5. The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19. (a) The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: 19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule.  Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.

6. In addition the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: (d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.

What law has Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd broken?

On Christmas day, the Nisshin Maru attempted to ram the Sea Shepherd vessel Farley Mowat. The video clearly shows the factory vessel bearing down with the Farley Mowat on its starboard side. It is the Farley Mowat that had the right of way according to the rules of the road. I ordered my crew to openly throw a mooring line from the stern in plain sight of the Japanese captain. In fear of fouling his prop he turned away and aborted his collision course. I bet the Japanese do not have a video showing a different perspective because that was the only perspective they could have documented. It is our video evidence against their word.

Hatanaka accuses us of breaking international law yet he does not state what these laws are that we are allegedly breaking.

It is not illegal to interfere on the high seas against their illegal whaling activities. In fact, we are legally authorized to do so in accordance with the U.N. World Charter for Nature.

The United Nations World Charter for Nature states in Section 21:

States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall...:

(c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature, and the protection of the environment;
(d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdiction , or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
(e) safeguard and conserver nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

And finally, Section 24 states:

Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter; acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present charter are met.

This is what we are doing in the waters of the Southern Ocean. We are acting as individuals and non-governmental organizations to uphold international conservation law for the purpose of protecting the environment. In so doing, we are challenging a rogue pirate nation intent upon arrogantly violating international conservation law.

The crime here is the illegal slaughter of thousands of whales. There is no such thing as "research whaling," and even if there was, it is still not legal.

Australia is obligated to enforce international conservation and Australian law against Japan in the Australian Antarctic Territory, but so far they have irresponsibly refused to do so because of economic conflicts of interest with the nation that is trespassing in their territory.

To Mr. Hatanaka, I say, "Charge us with these supposed crimes you are accusing us of and let's take this circus to court, even to the Japanese courts if need be." Let's expose this charlatan business for what it is - greed, profit, and illegal exploitation.

There is violence down here on these waters, it is the horrific rupture and gaping wounds of screaming whales dying in slow convulsions as their hot blood is spilt into the frigid waters. It is the callous disregard for human life by the butchers on the Japanese ships who view interference with their illicit profits as justification for assault.

No, Mr. Hatanaka, we will not cease and desist. Although I cannot speak any longer for Greenpeace, the organization I helped to found, I can assure you that neither Sea Shepherd or Greenpeace will back down to your demands to cease to protect the whales from your illegal slaughter.

We are down here to shut this bloody illegal slaughter down and we will not retreat - ever!

The following is an open letter from the head of the Japanese research whaling programme to the head of Greenpeace Japan.

December 27, 2005

Mr Junichi Sato
Campaigns Director
Greenpeace Japan


Greenpeace's intention to highlight environmental degradation of the seas with the aim of protecting the marine environment is in itself laudable. However, your organisation's actual behaviour is nothing but an opinionated display of self-righteousness.

Contrary to your organisation's mission statement to carry out "non-violent protest", your boats pursue our research vessels; your crewmembers disregard the international law of the sea and repeatedly engage in the illegal and dangerous hindrance of our research activities in the Antarctic.

I strongly request Greenpeace stops pursuing our research vessels immediately and refrains from coming any closer in future.

Since December 21, in spite of repeated warnings and requests to move away, your activists continue to approach the Nisshin-Maru and our other vessels. Your organisation continues to put in danger the lives of your crews by trying to board our vessels. In short, these actions amount to piracy. While such actions put at risk the lives of your activists, which is your choice, it also puts at risk the lives of our crews as well.

I draw your attention to the fact that the crews of your Zodiac boats are coming in front of the harpoon. Though we pay prudent attention to ensure their safety, the explosive grenade harpoon, as well as the high-calibre rifle used as a secondary killing method, renders the situation an extremely dangerous one. There is also the risk of your crews' entanglement in the harpoon rope and, needless to say, once the harpoon has hit the whale, the area surrounding the vessel becomes very hazardous. The carelessness of your obstructive activities has the potential of provoking a serious accident.

Once again, I strongly suggest that you immediately stop these stunts.

As you may be aware, an accident has already occurred. At the time of passing a whale carcass from a sampling/sighting vessel to the Nisshin-Maru, the crew of one of your Zodiac boats ignored our warnings, became entangled in the wire and capsized. Your boats and your obstructive activities are creating a situation where, sooner or later, an accident involving serious injury or worse may happen.

If any other such accident happens as a result of your illegal disturbance, Greenpeace will be to blame: it is your organisation that is creating this risky situation. Any accident involving your activists will be your exclusive responsibility.

The captains of the Nisshin-Maru research fleet, which is registered in and operated under the laws of Japan, have the duty of ensuring the safety of our crew and vessels. Any trespassing onto these vessels by any member of your organisation shall be dealt with in accordance with Japanese law.

The data of Japanese Greenpeace activists engaged in the obstruction of Japan's whale research program will be submitted to the authorities as evidence for indictment and criminal prosecution. Furthermore, any escalation of Greenpeace's violent activities would correspond to piracy as defined by Article 101 of the United Nations' Law of the Sea.

Your websites show that Greenpeace is now co-operating closely with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to further your activities in the Antarctic.

The Sea Shepherd boat, the "Farley Mowat", has already foolhardily tried to approach the Nisshin-Maru and deployed a mooring line with the intent of entwining her propeller. These are extremely dangerous actions.

It is widely known that Sea Shepherd has engaged in criminal and violent activity in the past, such as setting fire to and sinking whaling vessels in Iceland and Norway and fishing vessels in Spain and other countries. [See Captain Watson's response to these claims below this letter]

Sea Shepherd is a terrorist organisation - their members use threats of violence, sabotage and an open disregard for human life in furthering their cause. From your recent activity and acknowledgment on your websites, I can only conclude that Greenpeace is colluding and co-operating with Sea Shepherd; that you have recognised Sea Shepherd and are proclaiming to the international community that Greenpeace itself is kindred to the same violent and eco-terrorist approaches that Sea Shepherd is well-known to undertake.

Hiroshi Hatanaka
The Institute of Cetacean Research

Captain Watson has a  reponse to Mr. Hatanaka in regard to the following paragraph:

Hatanaka states that "it is widely known that Sea Shepherd has engaged in criminal and violent activity in the past, such as setting fire to and sinking whaling vessels in Iceland and Norway and fishing vessels in Spain and other countries."

It may be widely known inside Hatanaka's head but it is not true. No Sea Shepherd action has ever set fire to anything. We did sink illegal whalers in Norway, Iceland, and Spain. We have never sunk a fishing vessel. We were never charged with a crime in Iceland or Spain and charges in Norway amounted to a misdemeanor. It is difficult to be a bona fide criminal unless one has been convicted of a charge. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has never been charged, convicted or even sued for our actions against illegal whalers for the simple reason that our targets were illegal operations.

The Japanese are merely parroting the ideology of their former ally Joseph Goebbels who said that if you tell a lie often enough people will begin to believe it.

Link to the above letter which was printed in the New Zealand Herald: