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Sea Shepherd Drops In On The Japanese Whaling Fleet

japanese whaling

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.

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27 Responses to “Sea Shepherd Drops In On The Japanese Whaling Fleet”

  • Shaun Says:

    Smoothness! For the past month I have had the privilege/pleasure of watching the Humpback Whales in the waters off of Hawai’i. They still blow my mind every time that I see them. How it is that man can bring himself to murder a single one of these beautiful creatures, and cloak this vicious act under the name of science, is beyond me.

  • Mick Says:

    “Furthermore, as a biologist, I am extremely skeptical of any Japanese research that is based entirely on lethal methods”

    I am no marine biologist, however, this paper appears to indicate that the Japanese are also doing non-lethal research as well. It also appears at least some of their research is conducted in co-operation with the Australians.


  • Tamara Says:

    The Japanese are within their rights under treaty and what they are doing is not illegal. It is being termed as illegal by the terrorists in an attempt to justify their illegal ramming and interfering with Japanese commerce on the high seas. The eco-terrorists need to be stopped.

    I am sick of western culture imposing upon their values and way of life upon other cultures. This is hubris at it’s most blatant.

    I wish someone would sink the activists vessel to make a point that every culture is ENTITLED to their way of life no matter how barbarous other countries/ peoples may think it may be.


  • Shaun Says:

    You can talk about western culture, eastern culture, treaties, eco-terrorism, and anything else that makes you feel better about the slaughtering of whales all you want Tamara, but I would rather talk about us as human beings and common sense.
    Common sense tells me that there is nothing right about what is taking place in the above pictures. If this really is “research”, I’ll save the Japanese, and any other government the millions of dollars spent on this type of so-called “research” with this groundbreaking discovery brought by a little research of my own: WHALES BELONG IN THE OCEAN.
    It’s true there are people whose tradition and culture genuinely consist of harvesting whales as a way of life. But they do it in a way that is sustainable as they have been for thousands of years.
    Instead of trying to create division and throw blame in order to justify this heinous slaughter, try using a little love and common sense my friend.

  • Kevin Says:

    Wait, why is killing a whale any worse than say killing a halibut?? From a moral standpoint that is. Both ocean dwelling creatures. I don’t condone killing whales, I’m just curious why you’re all bent out of shape about this and not other marine life.

  • Shaun Says:

    Great question Kevin! While I don’t kill halibut, I get the point you’re trying to make. I do eat fish, and when I do fish it’s for the purpose of obtaining food.
    Again, in my personal view, it’s all about sustainability and common sense. I feel like it’s important to take everything from reproduction cycles to the status of the species into account when deciding what to harvest.I don’t kill or eat creatures who have been slaughtered nearly to the point of extinction. I don’t hide behind the cloak of “research” to fish.

  • Caleb Says:

    Mick- thanks for the link to that neat article. The research described in it was conducted by an international team of scientists employed by the IWC (hence the Australian collaboration you saw) and no, none of the methods listed in it were lethal. Unfortunately, I’m afraid this research has nothing to do with Japanese government’s other “research” fleet, the one that Sea Shepherd is trying to obstruct right now. In fact, I’d bet my lunch money that there is not one international scientist, or rather not one scientist not on the Japanese government’s payroll aboard the harpoon and factory ships that Sea Shepherd is interfering with currently. It’s debatable whether or not what Japan is doing is legal (Cpt. Paul Watson sure thinks it isn’t), but it’s absurd for anyone to accept the annual harvest as scientifically motivated. Japan is harvesting these whales whales for meat and measuring their ear bones to make it look like science while still profiting from a whaling industry. Conflict of interest? I think so. Science? Nah.

    Tamara- I would say that both Western and Eastern cultures are full of examples where tradition and way of life are carried out in ways that cannot sustain it and must either change or suffer irreversible consequence. And hey, it’s not nice to call people terrorists.

  • CetaceanSurf Says:

    yeah kevin, great point. i would say that there is a difference, but that’s just me personally, my morals. it really doesn’t even matter, though. the point is that as we speak, japan’s down there in antarctica pulling a fast one on us with their “whale research” bullshit. Long live cpt. paul watson and the noble band of sea shepherd pirates!

  • ted Says:


    Country kills millions of kangaroos for
    dog food has no right to say about legal
    actions by Japanese.

  • BobM Says:

    Whale meat is so delicious.
    There are plenty of minke whale to support the quota of the Japanese whaling research.

  • Janet Peniston Says:

    How would be in england feel if the japanese came over here and protested about out killing cows pigs sheep etc. – part of our culture? What is the difference and what gives us the right to interfere in other countries and other cultures – surely we are being hypacritical?

  • Heather Says:

    Isn’t the point that the Antarctic is supposed to be a whale sanctuary? When they make a kangaroo sanctuary I’ll be there too, to protest illegal poaching. If we “respect” Japan’s culture so much that we’re going leave their fishing industry unchecked, we’ll be rewarded with an whale-less ocean full of fin-less sharks eating fish too small to bite a hook.

  • Denny Says:


    I don’t think it makes sense to compare the raising of domestic animals for food and the killing of whales in their natural habitat. Talk about apples and oranges! This argument, in my opinion, has nothing to do with forcing our cultural values on another country. We are essentially talking about the violation of an international agreement under the specious guise of “scientific research”. Cultural values or tastes do not give anyone the right to violate environmental agreements with impunity.

  • ted Says:


    This is Animal Planet Discussion board.
    Surprisingly you could find SS’s true picture.

  • Will Ellis Says:

    Tamara, I hear what you’re saying girl, but it doesn’t make sense. I agree with Shaun that this issue rests on ‘common sense’ but in addition, it rests on ’sense’ in general, by which i mean, it rests on reason, rationality, intelligibility, etc and so on and what have you. Here’s what I mean. Check it. Every person comes from some culture, and every culture has its own values that influence and condition the moral thinking of its peoples. At the same time, if we say that, therefore, people from one culture can make no moral claims about the practices of other cultures, then we are saying that people cannot make moral claims at all, about anything. Extreme relativism takes hold, morality becomes an empty word void of meaning, and anything, no matter how vile or depraved, becomes permitted. We, as Americans, could not condemn the German Nazis for killing Jews, for example. And ‘culture’ applies not only to national cultures, but to other kinds of cultures as well. So, to extend your crazy logic further, we as a people of a non-corporate culture cannot condemn Nike for sweatshop labor practices, because after all, Nike executives belong to a corporate culture and who are we as non-executives to call them out on moral grounds? The point is, sometimes cultures get it wrong. In this case, the culture of Japan is out of whack. Because regardless of culture, killing majestic, dope, God-filled beasts in this fashion, in this circumstance, is madness and silliness of the most grotesque order.

  • ted Says:


    Double standards?

    The Alaskan Eskimo hunt is one of five permitted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which is holding its annual meeting in Anchorage on the other side of Alaska, under rules governing “aboriginal” or “subsistence” hunting.
    Quotas are awarded for periods of five years, and are being reviewed at this year’s IWC meeting.
    Maintaining the Alaskan bowhead quota is a political imperative for the US, which is why it volunteered to be this year’s host and hold the meeting as close to the Inupiat communities as possible.

  • ted Says:

    Russia, Norway, Iceland, Greeland, Canada,
    US(Alaska) etc are hunting whales.

    SS should go to Alaska first.

  • +Tamara Says:

    Well, it does actually make sense. When you take “feelie touchie” out of the equasion when it comes to your thought processes… it will all start to make perfect sense.

    I could have went off on the tangent that Kevin went off on above, but I thought that was a given… however not many people can see analogies in everyday life.
    They react and speak without thinking rationally and logically.
    This whole uproar is based on emotional kneejerk reactionary thinking rather than logic and rational thought.

    Let me just put it this way….

    UNLESS you consume NOTHING that once was alive… then you have NO basis on which to argue. That’ll take care of the majority of you.
    Those tho only eat plants? The veggie people that ‘feel’ a higher moral standing and wish to protest further…

    You’re still killing.. plants albeit, but you are still killing.
    No one is above it and it is a FACT of life.
    We all kill to eat in all forms unless you enjoy SOYLENT GREEN but thats just canibalistic, and thus another story.

    The moral of the story, unless you’re an E.T. you have no right to impress upon another people your BS concerns about what they wish to eat.


  • Will Ellis Says:

    Tamara, OMG, listen girl. This whole thing is not about being veg or vegan. I eat meat like crazy, I’m eating ribs right now. And they good. They real good. In fact, I know the guy who wrote this article, and I’ve never even seen him eat vegetables or fruit, he pretty much just eats meat. But that is not the issue. It isn’t that killing living things is always wrong, its that sometimes, in some circumstances, killing them is wrong. for examp, someone could make a good argument for why its ok to kill tons and tons of chickens. we have them in abundance. they feed us. they continue the cycle of life. but someone could also say its wrong to kill them in an inhumane way, or wrong to torture the hell out of them in the process of killing. also, one could argue that if killing chickens were against international law, then killing chickens would then become wrong, because violating international law eventually makes international law as a concept mute, and once that happens, you can’t have international law for other things like environmental concerns, war tribunals, Geneva conventions, come on yall, international law is important. also, killing may be wrong if one is killing endangered or otherwise rare animals. or if one is killing an animal just for its fur, or its ivory, or its tongue, and leaving the rest to rot. come on you guys. come on! we can do this, but in these types of debates its very important to MAKE DISTINCTIONS. yee.

  • ted Says:


    I will stop here. but you want to find more
    heated arguments, go to Animal Planet Discovery.
    Pretty constructive opinions over there.



  • Tamara Says:

    It all boils down to this.

    People have feelings about animals that they relate to or have been programmed to view as pets etc.

    None are above or below the bar of being used for some purpose no matter how distasteful you may think it may be.
    No distinctions, no hypocrisy.

    In this world there are 2 types of people
    those who predominately FEEL
    and those who predominately THINK and REASON.

    Just as in relationships (for example) we all know which way of reacting always F’s up the day.
    Hint, it isn’t thinking.

    Last comment for moi

    Ciao :)

  • snosh Says:

    Would it be alright to eat people “who predominately FEEL”? They’re so much more tender than the thinking types.

  • KULL Says:

    Hey Tamara,
    I had a problem with the Japanese long ago for imposing their will on Western Culture when they bombed Pearl Harbor. So, quite frankly, if we nuked Japan and killed every last one of them, there would be plenty of sea life including whales and dolphins left on this planet.
    The world needs more whales and dolphins, and does not need greedy, barbarous Japanese.
    Hows that. No vegan vs. meat eater intellectualism discussion here. Just pure hatred for the Japanese people.
    Done, finished.
    They need to commit Hara Kari en masse.

  • Steve Says:

    We cannot simply impose our own ideologies upon others. It does not work like that. And we definitely cannot do so thru any means of violence. Much of history has taught us differently already. Yet the SS has done exactly that. And they continue to do so without much oppositions from the law enforcements.

    We all have our own different beliefs and our own value systems as nations, as cultures, and definitely as individuals. Even the people closest to you cannot be ‘exactly’ like you, correct? So you may argue at first, then you try to understand one another, then you try to compromise, and finally agree together upon a solution. That is how you work things out. That is how you make civilized progress.

    But using any form of violence in that equation would be both wrong and unlawful. It would and should put the violent party in jail. Violence against fellow human beings is illegal to protect private citizens like you and me. Whether the violence is indoors in the form of a domestic abuse, or outdoors in the open seas like ‘Whale Wars‘, we should be protected them, and much more of the kind.

    We are not at war with the Japan, let me mind you that. In fact, ‘Whale Wars’ is nothing but a fight of differences gone wrong between two parties: the extremists made up of private volunteers vs. the fishermen and the scientists. So what exactly is wrong here? Researching or fishing whales in a whale sanctuary? Or harming fisherman and scientists in international waters? You have to decide for yourselves.

    However, if we continue to allow the extremists to harass and harm the fishermen and scientists, what does that entail in the long run for the rest of us? Are you letting the extremists taking this right, this protection from violence, away from all of us also by allowing it? Because there are many different causes out there. And what will be next? How will the other extremists of other causes affect you and me in the future? Will we eventually become the targets of someone because of our petty differences?


    My views on the SS:

    The SS is imposing their own ideologies about the whales sanctuary upon the Japanese. And they decided to achieve it through the physical acts of violence. As we all have witnessed, the SS defamed the Japanese and humiliated them to the maximum, as a group of whalers at sea – even though they are just doing their jobs as fishermen and scientists. The SS then repeatedly treated them like second class human beings by throwing things at them, with or without the intention to harm them, while cheering and laughing. There was not a single smile on the Japanese ship, they were taking the abuse silently, just observing the entire account, and just watching the SS and the glass bottles of butyric acid the SS has thrown at them smash and spread all across their ship. And after a few incidents of this, the Japanese finally retaliated with the much more passive flash bombs.

    Quite frankly, I don’t care what the SS is throwing – even if they are throwing loafs of bread. The act of throwing alone defines it as violence against the Japanese. Even a loaf of bread is a weapon when used in that way. Aiming at whatever then throwing whatever at or near somebody is intent harm. It is a very unnecessary violent act.

    The SS also attempted to immobilize the Japanese ship in the middle of a freezing ocean. The SS also disregarded all of the Japanese warnings not to approach them yet still they proceeded to board the Japanese ship. Yet the Japanese released the protestors.

    Overall, the SS has demonstrated that they have zero regards for the lives and the livelihoods of the fishermen and scientists. And thus to me, what they do is illegal on so many levels and on every account that has occurred. The SS acted out like a gang of childish pranksters knowing the consequences. I believe they are not that naïve.

    Everything the SS has done is both dangerous and unacceptable because we are talking about attacking the fishermen and the scientists in international waters, openly and freely. And all of the hate and violence seems to be coming from the SS, alone! So far, all of the SS mission, is like a baby version of Nazi mentally and behavior to me – imposing ideology thru violence. Haven’t we learned yet? Did 911 not teach you anything? Violence is never the answer to anything at any level.


    ‘Whale Wars’ is not a war of nations. So once again I ask you: why should we allow all this to happen to a group of fishermen and scientists? If the SS can do this to them so freely, what can others do to us in the future?

  • Asa Says:

    You know what is funny about these stupid Westerners: they killed of a whole lot of people and languages and culture, but they care more for the whales.

    I can’t even phatom the hypocrisy of the white man. I think they should shoot these people if they ever get in the way of Japanese culture and tradition.

    I am sick of stupid white assholes thinking their culture and way of life is right. I am sadden that Asians are not more vocal about this imposition of Western culture of self-righteous after all they have suffered under the hand of racist white assholes.

  • Big Willie Says:

    a brief comment for Steve. I see you are dedicated to cultural relativism. Good thinking. Everyone has different values! It’s true. No one is right or wrong. Truth does not exist. If a society wants to kill whales, let them kill whales. If a society wants to kill Jews, let them kill Jews. If a society wants to oppress women, let them oppress the bitches. Its all relative. And hey, if one of America’s values is the belief in imposing their values on others, let them impose their values on others! Everyone do what they want. Good philosophy Steve. It’s very thought out. I hate all this intellectualizing. All those stupid thinking people, always talking about ‘justice’ or ‘truth.’ Its all about feelings. I love people who just feel, you know. I feel this, you feel that. I like chocolate ice cream, you like vanilla. I like not raping people, others love to rape people. And what about the whales? They don’t have a say. They probably don’t want to get killed, but humans want to kill them. So whoop there it is. Also, comment for Asa. Your right. The West sucks. White people suck. Racism is back in. I think its cool to be racist, as long as its against white people, and of course black people, but not Asians. East good, West bad. Americans shouldn’t think their tradition and way of life is right. Only Japanese people should think their tradition and way of life is right. Right? I’m glad we all have brains and we can use them in these fun ways. On with the whale killing yall.

  • MPP Says:

    The whales are almost gone. That’s why we should stop killing them. Chickens and pigs are not almost gone. That’s why killing them is not a big deal. This really doesn’t take a lot of brain power…

    Point #2, a lot of good your tradition of whale harvesting is going to do you when you have harvested them out of existence, which is going to occur pretty soon.

    Why not try this? Stop hunting whales for 100 years and let the population fully recover, and then resume your tradition of whale hunting in a sustainable manner.

    Again, doesn’t really take a lot of brain power to solve the problem…

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