The Whale’s Voice: Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned & Japanese Blast Sea Shepherd Activist Off His Jet Ski

Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

To say that Friday was tough would be an understatement. After flying home from Surfing Life’s Oakley Big Wave Awards on Thursday, and with commentating duties at the Breaka Burleigh Pro beckoning on the weekend, I took the morning off to try and set my home life straight. When I got online around lunchtime I was stunned to see what had happened on our web site.

A piece on whaling I’d approved had set the net alight, and people were baying for blood. Our web editor’s details had been posted online, and he’d received anonymous threatening texts. There were over 250 comments on the story, the majority derogatory, and Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd was rallying his troops. In the bright light of day, what we’d hoped might have been a thought provoking post now looked misguided, insulting, and poorly researched, and for that and any offence caused, I apologise.

I emailed Paul Watson and offered him full right of reply. His gracious retort is below, and I thank him for that. In response to many of the comments, no, this story was not paid for by the ICR, nor any other Japanese right wing group. Surfing Life is definitely NOT pro-whaling, nor do we think that Sea Shepherd is a racist organization. I understand the point that Gabe McCauley was trying to raise – that perhaps Australia’s passion against the Japanese whaling fleet has deeper roots than just the sea’s largest creatures – and it is one that has been floated in the mainstream press before, but in this piece it was not clearly articulated, and framed in an antagonist body of text it only incited further criticism and anger.

Sea Shepherd are clearly an organization that demand media attention and with their name up in lights there will always be backlash. On the many pro-Sea Shepherd articles we have posted in the past there has always been much comment for and against, and it was that in mind that I approved the article on Thursday night. Looking back, I wish I had better done my editorial due diligence, and the weekend just gone was a constant reminder of that.

Surfing Life will always be a home for passionate debate, and we always encourage opinion pieces and curious contributions. But in this instance a lot more research and a lot more care was called for.

– Chris Binns, Editor of Surfing Life

A Failure To Research Why Sea Shepherd Opposes Whalers Pretending To Do Research

By Captain Paul Watson

When I read the article Fuzzy Wuzzy Whales in Australia’s Surfing Life, I thought for a moment I had mistakenly opened one of the editorial pages of the Australian. That is usually the kind of publication one would find such a shoddily researched simplistic rant like this posing as serious journalism.

I have never heard of a single surfing publication anywhere in the world, including Japan, that has taken up the cause for whalers and it was even more amazing to see the tiresome canards being presented as “evidence” that Sea Shepherd’s real agenda is not saving whales at all and that we have spent eight years venturing into the most remote and hostile waters in the world because we hate Japanese people.

My Japanese crewmembers and supporters were surprised to read that racism was their agenda.
A glance at Wikipedia would have quickly presented evidence that Sea Shepherd does not and has never singled out whalers just because they are Japanese. The reason that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is in the Southern Ocean defending whales from Japanese whalers can be found in one word. “Sanctuary.”

The Japanese whaling fleet is targeting endangered whales (Fins and Humpbacks) and protected whales (Minkes) in the established internationally designated Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
They are doing so in violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling and they are engaged in commercial exploitation of Antarctic resources in violation of the Antarctic Treaty.
The Japanese fleet is also in contempt of the Australian Federal Court ruling prohibiting them from whaling in Australian territorial waters and Australia is taking Japan to court over the legality of their whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.

What is the point of establishing a whale sanctuary if people are allowed to kill whales in it?
Those who accuse Sea Shepherd of opposing whaling because we are motivated by racism with their assumption that we are anti-Japanese have failed to do any research into Sea Shepherd’s very long history of opposition to whaling.

Since I established the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 we have openly engaged in confrontations with whalers from the former Soviet Union, Iceland, Norway, the Danish Faeroe Islands, Spain, South Africa, Australia, St. Lucia, the United States, Japan and pirate whalers flying various flags of convenience.  We have opposed sealing operations in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Russia, the United States and Namibia. We have opposed shark finners in Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and across the South Pacific. We have intervened against turtle poachers in Trinidad and we have seized and destroyed drift nets in the Caribbean and the Pacific. We have opposed dolphin killers in Japan, the Faeroes, the Galapagos and Brazil. We have protected plankton off the Galapagos and off Bermuda. And we have intervened against illegal fishing operations by Cuba and Spain on the Grand Banks of  Newfoundland and by Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia and the United States in the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve.
We do not discriminate.

Sea Shepherd is not a protest organization. We are an interventionist organization and we are an anti-poaching organization. We oppose operations that unlawfully exploit marine wildlife.
We operate in accordance with the principles established within the United Nations World Charter for Nature that allows for non-governmental organizations and individuals to uphold international conservation law.

Since 1999, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has worked in partnership with the Galapagos National Park rangers and the Ecuadorian National Police to protect the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve. Towards that end we have installed a one million Euro AIS system in the Galapagos, provided a patrol vessel, a canine unit, engineers for a surveillance barge, radios and equipment for the rangers and police.

In Costa Rica, Sea Shepherd has provided generators and equipment to the Cocos Island National Park rangers. Sea Shepherd apprehended the first illegal long-liner to be taken to court and convicted in Costa Rica when we seized the Ecuadorian fishing vessel San Jose two miles off the beach of the Cocos Island National Park and Marine Reserve. We have scuttled six Norwegian whalers, two Icelandic whalers, two South African whalers, two Spanish whalers and two pirate whalers. We have not by the way, rammed or sunk a single Japanese whaler.

And most importantly in over thirty five years of activism we have not caused a single injury to our opposition nor have we ever been convicted of a felony crime. Nor are there any outstanding warrants for our arrest for any crime at all. We have also not been reprimanded by our flag nations of the Netherlands and Australia.

In response to critics labeling us eco-terrorists, all I can say is that if I or my crew are eco-terrorists committing crimes then we should be arrested. If our critics do not have a case against us to arrest us they should simply shut the hell up because all they are doing is spouting nonsense.

There is actually no such crime called eco-terrorism and to me the meaning of eco-terrorist would more legitimately be applied to BP for what they did in the Gulf of Mexico or Union Carbide for what they did in Bhopal, India. Monsanto is an eco-terrorist corporation. Sea Shepherd is actually a counter eco-terrorist organization.

Back in 1977, we were fighting whalers in Western Australia. A few months ago I met with some of these old whalers who are now Sea Shepherd supporters in Albany. Three of them told me how they felt ashamed of what they had done back in the Seventies. Australia once a whaling nation is now indisputably the most passionate anti whaling nation on the planet and that gives me great hope that Japan will soon convert to a nation that values whales more alive than dead.

The article recently published by Australia’s Surfing Life stated: Can you trust an organization whose logo plays on the pirate flag skull and crossbones? Where do you draw the line between conservation, activism and piracy on the high seas? Sea Shepherd adopted the Jolly Roger flag based on a historical reality. Back in the 17th Century when piracy was out of control in the Caribbean, it was not the British or Spanish Navies that brought it to heel. Too many politicians and bureaucrats on the take.  Piracy in the Caribbean was defeated by one man, Henry Morgan, a pirate. Sometimes you simply need pirates to fight pirates and in our case we are pirates of compassion opposing pirates of greed.

The other great thing about pirates is the lack of bureaucracy because we believe that bureaucracy keeps things from being done efficiently and expediently. And history is full of notable pirates who made positive contributions including John Paul Jones, the founder of the American Navy, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and Jean LaFitte who helped defend the city of New Orleans in 1814 with Andrew Jackson. Aside from that, it’s a popular logo. The kids like it and it gets people’s attention. And where do we draw the line? The line is quite distinctly drawn to stop illegal activities without causing injury to our opposition.

With the criticism that we are violent all I can say is that in our entire thirty five year history we have not caused a single injury and we have only destroyed property used for illegal exploitation of marine life. A few years ago, his Holiness the Dalai Lama gave me a figurine of a horse headed dragon like creature to put on the mast of the ship. The figure is called Hayagriva and he said that it represented the compassionate wrath of the Buddha. When I asked him what that was he said that, “you never want to hurt anyone but sometimes when people cannot see enlightenment, you may have to scare the hell out of them until they do.”

The Dalai Lama understood that Sea Shepherd practices aggressive non-violence. We do not cause physical injury to those we oppose but we do destroy equipment illegally used to exploit marine wildlife. To us the destruction of a harpoon or a rifle is an act of non-violence because it can save the life of a sentient being by doing so.

Dr. Martin Luther once wrote that violence cannot be committed against a non-sentient object. It is the Sea Shepherd position that the saving of a sentient being from death and injury justifies the destruction of the weapon or equipment that threatens the life of that living entity. You can commit violence with a gun but it is not violent to destroy a gun, in fact it is merely a first strike action of non-violence to neutralize a potential instrument of violence since the only thing a gun (or a harpoon) is meant for is to inflict violence and death.

Our oceans are in trouble. There is more illegal fishing than legal fishing taking place and very rarely are the laws enforced and upheld. Every single commercial fishing industry is in a state of collapse. Over-fishing is killing our oceans and if the oceans die, we all die. That is why Sea Shepherd is involved with defending species ranging from phylo-plankton to the great whales.

We do get more attention for our campaigns to defend whales because we have our own television show Whale Wars that focuses on our whale campaigns. Last summer we filmed a five episode series on Whale Wars the Faeroe Islands to cover the slaughter of pilot whales in the Danish Faeroe Islands. We have also filmed an episode on our Operation Blue Rage to defend Bluefin tuna off the coast of Libya and another episode on Operation Desert Seal, our campaign to protect fur seals on the coast of Namibia. Our award winning film Sharkwater changed the perception of sharks to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

The article in Australia’s Surfing Life asked why we are not addressing global warming instead. The reason for that is simple. First the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was established as a marine wildlife anti-poaching organization. We are doing what we were established to do. And secondly, there is nothing we can organizationally to address global warming nor is there anything anyone else can do about it as long as people drive cars, fly around in airplanes, use plastic, stop eating meat and continue to live life styles that consume vast amounts of resources and utilize vast amounts of energy.

What we do in Sea Shepherd to address this issue is to run our ships as vegan vessels because more greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the meat industry worldwide than by the automobile industry. Also some 40% of all fish caught is fed to livestock in the form of fish meal making the pig a larger marine predator than the shark and factory farmed chickens more voracious consumers of fish than puffins and albatross.

When the article says: “Here’s a cheeky little fact for you to take home: whaling is not the biggest environmental problem in Australia’s waters and is not even the biggest problem created by Japanese fishing vessels.” How about this? Auto theft and domestic violence are not the biggest crime problems in Australia and not even the biggest problem for Australian police. Maybe they should stop chasing car thieves and handling domestic violence cases to concentrate on murder and rape.

The strength of any movement lies in diversity of approaches, tactics, strategies and activism. Everybody can’t focus on doing just one thing but some can focus on one thing and at the same time do their part to help others focus on other issues. We intervene against poaching and our contribution to addressing global warming is to not consume animal products.

The article asked why people support Sea Shepherd and why some are so passionate with their support. The answer is because we are different. We are a volunteer driven international activist organization that delivers results in terms of actual numbers saved. In other words we deliver.

Last season, the Japanese whaling fleet took only 17% of its kill quota and retreated back to Japan a month ahead of schedule. We have helped to shut down the commercial seal slaughter in Canada. We physically prevented the dumping of iron filings off the Galapagos and Bermuda by an organization violating EPA rulings opposing ocean dumping to artificially enhance plankton populations because the research was suspect. We have arrested over 70 poaching vessels, seized hundreds of miles of longlines and drift nets and shut down illegal whaling operations worldwide.

In addition Sea Shepherd crew were on the beaches in 1989 rescuing animals from the Exxon Valdez spill and we also rescued animals from spills in France, Scotland, Brazil, the Galapagos and we have had a crew working in the Gulf of Mexico ever since the BP oil spill diaster. In addition to our Whale Warstelevision series we have helped to produce incredible documentary films like the aforementionedSharkwaterOceansThe Edge of the WorldBlack HarvestEco-PiratesPirates for the SeaConfessions of an Eco-Terrorist, and a Fierce Green Fire.

Sea Shepherd is also unique in that you will never see paid Sea Shepherd street solicitors and we don’t send out vast qualities of direct (junk) mail asking for donations. We do not spend money to raise more money. We utilize donations for the purpose given – to directly fund our ships and campaigns. And thus we have grown by word of mouth and this gives us a loyal following.

We have a loyal following amongst the diving and surfing communities. Surfers don’t support Sea Shepherd to clear their conscience as the article stated in a very insulting tone. On the contrary surfers and divers support Sea Shepherd because they see results of our efforts and thus a return on their investment with us.

Do the writers of the article really believe that Kelly Slater, Dave Rastovich and Stephanie Gillmore support Sea Shepherd because they have a guilty conscience? Rasta has been on a Sea Shepherd ship pulling longlines from the waters of the Galapagos National Park and releasing turtles from the hooks. He has been to Taiji, Japan to oppose the slaughter of dolphins. He is an activist because he is a surfer and most surfers have a love for the ocean and the diversity of life within the sea. The writers of this anti-Sea Shepherd article would have their readers believe that Rasta was there because he was, as they so dramatically put it, “brainwashed.”

The Sea Shepherd Board of Advisors also includes “brainwashed” supporters like former Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell and the former Environment Minster of British Columbia, Canada Rafe Mair.

The writers of the article also wrote : “All I suggest is that before supporting vicious anti-whaling groups and blindly screaming hatred for whaling, you should take time and look at the facts.”
The question is why did the two writers not bother to look at the facts about Sea Shepherd and whaling before they wrote an article that has all the appearances of being a paid promotion piece for the Japanese whaling industry?

Source: Australia’s Surfing Life

Japanese Blast Sea Shepherd Activist Off His Jet Ski

THE SOUTHERN OCEAN, February 11, 2012 (ENS) – Beck Straussner, 42, of the United States was hit in the chest with a water cannon and knocked off his jet ski today during a confrontation between a Japanese whaling vessel and whale defenders near Antarctica.

Straussner, from Maui, Hawaii, was in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica in his capacity as the 2nd Officer on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship vessel, the Steve Irwin.

Captain Watson commands the Steve Irwin. This is the eighth consecutive year that he has taken ships to the Southern Ocean to fulfill his stated mission by exposing and confronting illegal activities on the high seas.Established in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson to conserve and protect ecosystems and species, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit conservation organization on a mission “to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans.”

Watson maintains that what the Japanese call “research” whaling, allowed by the International Whaling Commission, is, in fact, illegal.

In a strategic battle at sea that began in December, the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 had been tailing the whale defenders’ ship for weeks.

Today, at 1700 Hours Eastern Australia Standard Time, about 580 miles off Marie Byrd Land, Captain Watson deployed three inflatable boats and the jet ski to interfere with the tailing vessel.

He says the maneuver was an attempt to force the Yushin Maru No. 2 to slow down and fall behind, allowing the Steve Irwin to escape.

He says Straussner was knocked off his jet ski into subzero Antarctic waters when he was struck in the chest by one of the water cannons on the Japanese harpoon vessel. The Yushin Maru No. 2 did not stop to offer assistance.

Straussner was able to swim to his jet ski and get underway again. He returned to the Steve Irwin some nine miles away.

In response to the question of how he felt about the incident, Straussner laughed and said just one word – “cold.”

Speaking on behalf of the Japanese whalers, the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, ICR, issued a statement accusing the activists of “aiming to disable the Japanese vessel rudder and propeller” by deploying ropes “more than seven times” just in front of the Yushin Maru No. 2’s bow.

The activists used an air gun to fire “several dozens of projectiles containing an irritant chemical” and “threw by hand several dozens of smoke bombs, butyric acid-containing glass bottles and paint-containing glass bottles toward the YS2,” the Institute said.

The Japanese do not deny the Yushin Maru No. 2 made use of its water pump “as a preventive measure to make SS activists desist from further approaching,” and repeatedly broadcast a warning message. The Japanese vessel towed from its stern a rope with keep-your-distance-warning buoys in an attempt to keep the rubber boats from closing in, “but the rope was cut off by activists,” the ICR said.

There were no injuries to the Japanese crew from this attack although some of the butyric acid and paint projectile bottles hit the Japanese vessel, and several ropes entangled in its propeller, said the ICR.

To ensure the survival of whales, Sea Shepherd uses what Watson calls “innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary…”This is not the only time this season that Sea Shepherd crew members have been injured by the Japanese whalers. On January 18, grappling hooks thrown by Japanese crew on the Yushin Maru No. 2 injured several Sea Shepherd volunteers on an inflatable they were using to confront the whaler.

“There are three harpoon vessels and two large Sea Shepherd ships,” said Watson, describing the dimensions of this season’s fight. “Two of the three harpoon vessels have not fired a single harpoon because they are forced to tail the two Sea Shepherd ships, Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, to prevent them from closing in on the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.”

While the Japanese have given themselves an annual quota of more than 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales, the Nisshin Maru and one harpoon vessel have not had time to stop and kill whales as they remain on the move to avoid the two Sea Shepherd ships.

The two harpoon vessels tailing the two Sea Shepherd ships keep the Nisshin Maru informed of the movements of the conservation ships, preventing the Sea Shepherd crews from closing in on the factory ship.

Watson says his organization has proven that aggressive, non-violent intervention can be highly effective.

“We have found the key to physically shutting down these illegal whaling operations and every year Sea Shepherd has become more effective than the year before,” he said. “Last season, the whalers were only able to take 17 percent of their self-appointed quota, meaning that Sea Shepherd was able to save 863 whales, up from the 528 whales saved the year before.”

Source: Environment News Service



~ by FSVSF Admin on 13 February, 2012.

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