This week, representatives from only 26 countries of the 80 members of the IWC will gather in a secret, closed-door meeting at the Tradewinds Islands Grand Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida, to hear longtime presidential appointee Dr. William Hogarth push the Bush plan to overturn the global whaling ban and bow to Japanese demands for new whaling quotas.

The International Whaling Commission is an 80 nation body charged with the conservation of our planet's great whales, not their decimation. In 1986, the IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling, culminating in one of the 20th century's most important conservation successes. Since then the IWC has issued quotas only for Aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Yet more than 30,000 whales have been illegally killed for commercial purposes since the ban.

The government of Japan, with its bogus claims of scientific whaling has greatly increased its illegal whaling activities in international waters and has threatened to add the endangered humpback whale to its kill list. Japan's so-called annual scientific slaughter is conducted every December to March in the Southern Oceans whale sanctuary!

Japan has not produced a single credible peer-reviewed scientific paper in decades.

Whales are in trouble, not just from whaling but from pollution, diminishment of plankton and fish by human exploitation, global warming, increased acidity in the oceans and military activity. None of these factors are being considered in any scientific study. The only research that the Japanese are doing is marketing and product development research.

Japan is bullying its way towards getting what it wants. The Australian government has already caved into Japanese demands and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reneged completely on his election promise to defend the whales.

And now the United States is bending over for Japan.

The pressure is coming down on us from all sides. Sea Shepherd is being harassed in Australia, Canada, Austria, and now the United States.

It is hard to believe that in the first decade of the 21st Century, that there is so much pressure to kill whales and so much animosity towards people trying to defend and protect them.

The Japanese government sends a 50 member delegation to the IWC each year and this delegation is focused, aggressive, and hostile. The issue has become one of national pride. Having been humiliated a generation ago, many of the old bureaucrats see this as an opportunity to vent their jingoistic frustrations and the whales will have to die for the Western "sin" of defeating them in 1945

Although his father George H. Bush fought with honor against the Japanese military, George W. Bush has decided to surrender to Japan on this issue. Concessions are being negotiated and Japan, Norway, Iceland and Denmark may emerge with a death list for thousands of whales.

What happens this week will certainly affect our strategy for this next up-coming campaign to defend the whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Will Sea Shepherd return as law enforcers or will we be seen as outlaws for our efforts to protect endangered species?

One thing for sure - we WILL NOT abandon the whales to the ruthless harpoons of the Japanese whaling fleet.

* In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings.