Chief Executive Officer of Sea Shepherd Global, Captain Alex Cornelissen, has made the following statement regarding Japanese whaling in Antarctica
Sea Shepherd has opposed the Japanese government's illegal slaughter of whales in Antarctica since 2002. Throughout those years, we have remained the only organization dedicated to protecting the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Spearheaded by direct-action, Sea Shepherd has saved the lives of over 5,000 whales, and has shone a spotlight on the atrocities committed against protected, vulnerable and endangered whales by the Japanese whaling fleet.
In 2014, the United Nations International Court of Justice, the highest international court, handed-down a decision that would forever change Japan's whaling program. In a 12-4 majority, the Court ruled that JARPA II was, in fact, an illegal, commercial operation and, therefore, ordered that it immediately cease.
In spite of the decision, Japan vowed to return to the Southern Ocean to continue its lethal hunt under a newly designed whaling program, titled NEWREP-A. The new program, it claimed, would satisfy “scientific” requirements specified under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. However, key elements of NEWREP-A indicate that the program is also focused on limiting Sea Shepherd's capabilities – a sure sign of our effectiveness.
Specifically, NEWREP-A includes an expanded hunting area, twice the size of that designated under JARPA II, aimed to make it more difficult for Sea Shepherd to locate the whaling fleet; a transferable and compoundable quota, meaning that the lives of whales saved by Sea Shepherd in any year could be transferred and added to the quota of the next; and a commitment not to engage with Sea Shepherd, thereby reducing any opportunity to draw international attention to the proposed yearly whale slaughter.
But NEWREP-A has failed its first test. On Monday April 13, an expert panel of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) rejected the plan, stating it lacked the data required to legitimize it as science. While the final judgement on NEWREP-A will be made by the Scientific Committee of the IWC when it meets in May this year, the wheels of public sentiment, of international law, and of scientific reasoning are all turning against the continuation of Japan's whaling program in the Southern Ocean.
Every attempt made by Japan to legitimize the on-going slaughter of whales in Antarctica is meeting fierce resistance. We do not expect that Japan will return to the Southern Ocean to kill whales, but if it does, we trust that the international community will act appropriately to stop this blatant violation of international law.
While we declare this a victory in the Southern Ocean, the battle for the protection of the world's oceans continues. Sea Shepherd remains, as always, committed to protecting our clients, the whales, and the many other precious inhabitants that call the sea their home. We must be strategic in our planning, making the most effective use of our limited resources to achieve optimal outcomes. As always, we measure our success by the numbers of lives we save.
Thousands of cetaceans are still targeted for slaughter in the northern hemisphere each year. Norway and Iceland alone have a combined yearly kill quota of over 1,500 whales. This number, which includes 154 endangered Fin whales, is far in excess of the quota proposed by the Japanese government.
We will continue to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the waters of Antarctica. However, for all of the reasons listed above, Sea Shepherd does not have any current plans to return to the Southern Ocean to engage in further anti-whaling campaigns against the Japanese whaling fleet. Instead, we will take our fight for the whales from the South, using our Southern Ocean successes to expand our arm of protection to the North. It is here that we can ultimately be the most effective, because it is here that we will ultimately save the greatest amount of lives.
In the coming months, we will unveil our plans for a North Atlantic campaign. We will, as always, use direct-action techniques to stop the unnecessary and illegal slaughter of whales and other marine creatures. We will continue to uphold international law; to be soldiers of compassion, dedicated to defending those who cannot defend themselves. And we will continue the fight to protect the precious life in our oceans - the life that sustains our very existence - because we believe that if there's one thing on this planet that's worth fighting for, it's life.