In case you have yet to hear, at this very instant there is a battle raging in the Southern Ocean between the Japanese “research” whaling fleet and anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In recent days, Sea Shepherd reported that there had been a second collision between their ship, the Steve Irwin, and the Japanese harpoon vessel, Yushin Maru 3.
On the Sea Shepherd website, founder and captain Paul Watson describes the encounter as follows-
“We told them to not continue their illegal whaling operations and that we would be blocking the stern slipway of the factory ship. They decided to test our resolve and apparently expected us to retreat when they charged in ahead of us to make the transfer.”
The transfer that Captain Watson refers to is that of two Minke whales between the harpoon vessels and the factory ship that processes the catch. Sea Shepherd accuses the Japanese fleet of being in violation of the 1986 International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling, while the Japanese insist that they are acting legally under a program of lethal scientific research. Meanwhile, the showdown in the Antarctic has become an annual event, marked frequently by violent confrontations between the two groups, inciting public outcry both in favor and in opposition to commercial whaling.
The debate is extremely complicated and I don’t think there will ever be a consensus, compromise, or any kind of solid agreement between those for and against harvesting whales. From my experience as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, however, I can say that what I have seen of Japanese fishing ethics and practices as a whole is disgusting and lacks regard for the greater welfare of our planet and her oceans. Furthermore, as a biologist, I am extremely skeptical of any Japanese research that is based entirely on lethal methods, produces so few peer-reviewed papers, and is being implemented as a means to resume large scale commercial whaling. And finally, as a surfer and lover of all things marine, I know that in the last 100 years (and no, it wasn’t just Japan’s fleet responsible) we came damn close to losing some of the Earth’s most ancient and radical creatures. And all for what? I want to see to it that the ideologies, traditions, and other things that drive this kind of over-exploitation be confronted and condemned.
With that said, I give props to Sea Shepherd for continuing their brave fight and drawing global attention to the issues surrounding this struggle.
Posted by Caleb on Sunday, February 8th, 2009 in Surfing.
- -Kelly Slater Enlists In Neptune’s Navy: Proceeds from New Board Shorts To Benefit Sea Shepherd Cause
- -The Price Of A Cause? Japanese Mafia After Dave Rastovich
- -Surfing Bringing Positive Vibes to Addicts
- -Day of Reckoning Has Arrived for RVCA’s Brand Image
- -An Open Letter to Mexico’s Congress on Shark Ecotourism