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Japan embarks on annual whale hunt--can Sea Shepherd be far behind?


Whaling ships from Japan left today for Antarctic waters on an annual five-month voyage in pursuit of about 1,000 minke whales and a small number of endangered fin whales.

The seasonal hunts, during the Antarctic summer, are highly controversial. They're carried out in the name of research but the meat is sold in Japanese markets and restaurants and whatever research is conducted has been deemed questionable and unnecessary by many scientists outside Japan.

Australia and New Zealand, closest to the whaling region, have spoken out against the hunts, but to no avail.

Enter the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its devoted captain, Paul Watson, who himself is controversial and labeled a terrorist by the Japanese. Sea Shepherd is making final preparations for "Operation Waltzing Matilda," its name for this year's harassment campaign against the whalers.

It will again involve a crew from Animal Planet for its popular "Whale Wars" series. The series has thrust Sea Shepherd into the spotlight and made a hero of Watson and his vegan crew, in the eyes of some. Watson has won many volunteer recruits because of the series.

But with another potentially violent and dangerous conflict soon to begin, Greenpeace International is claiming that an end to Japanese whaling is close on the  horizon because of the bad economy.

It reports that a government review committee has proposed substantial cuts in subsidies to various programs, including the whaling research program. Without government subsidies, Greenpeace maintains, "the whaling program would be doomed."

Time will tell. Meanwhile, exploding harpoons will tear into the flesh of unsuspecting cetaceans, water cannons will blast from ship to ship, bottles full of rancid butter will be heaved aboard the whaling vessels, and collisions might occur.

Watson will again be hailed and chastised; people seem to either cherish or despise him. He routinely brushes aside the criticism, saying that he's only interested in costing the whaling fleet money and saving as many whales as possible each year.

My guess is that he has come to enjoy the "Whale Wars" spotlight, also.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Sea Shepherd crew members are hosed by crewmen aboard a Japanese harpoon vessel during last year's effort to harass the whalers. Credit: Stephen Roest / Sea Shepherd

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Comments (21)

Paul Watson should take a leaf out of the French book of negotiation and give these whaling scum bags the Rainbow Warrior treatment. Either that or a well placed torpedo and put this fleet at the bottom of the Southern ocean. I’m sure they would save face and refuse to be rescued.

Sink the whaling ships and be done with it.

SSCS are terrorists and you are supporting them.
Then do you support Al-kaida and Bin Laden?

Stop being a hypocrite and face the truth.

The only eco-terrorists here are the Japanese whalers.. They truly terrorize our oceans. Can't wait to see them shut down completely and join the rest of the civilized world..

Eco-terrorist filth.

The quicker Japan dispatches these cretins to the seabed the better.

Thanks renji for actually being a whale lover like the majority of us.

Next time you post on this important issue, make sure you say something that will actually help in their preservation.

Renji, what we say does make a difference.

Knowing this now, I trust you'll say things that result in improvements instead of possibly making such a SERIOUS situation even worse.

Another important issue is Shark finning.

I was horrified to learn that over 100 million Sharks are killed every year and that is because uninformed (or greedy) fisherman, cut off their fins and then throw the shark over board.

I remember seeing bizzare and surreal film footage of sharks bodies on the sea floor without their fins.

The bludgeoning of this predator to these levels means that the balance of the oceans is drastically altered. Sharks are a necessary species in the oceans.

Removing them by causing their extinction is very very bad.

When top predators are removed from the environment that they are normally in, in this case the ocean, then the balance of species mix is disturbed. This allows species of creatures that are just as dangerous to humans, ........ to proliferate (to breed unchecked).

The worst example of subspecies proliferation, is the highly poisonous jellyfishes. They have been appearing in plague proportions all over the world and it is literally life threatening to enter the water for what was normally a very pleasant casual swim. The seawater literally becomes a poisonous jellyfish soup.

I think i'd rather a few occasional sharks at my beach, than a plague of millions of poisonous jellyfish.

Go Japan get those danm whales

It seems that people are forgetting that it is in very large part, BECAUSE of the actions of the Sea Shepherd organisation and her incredibly courageous crew, that the hideous consumption of the flesh of such an intelligent and gentle creature, has started to abate in Japan!!

There is no doubt in my mind that the Sea Shepherd has done this. Virtually single handedly. They carried out dangerous actions so that the rest of us would wake up and notice what was going on in our oceans.

The leaders of countries that have not taken Sea Shepherds lead, should hang their heads in shame. They are such incredibly gutless wonders.
This incredibly barbaric and shameful practice of hunting this creature to the brink of extinction will stop. There is no doubt in my mind that it will stop. The important thing is that the sooner it stops, the better.

Remember that this hunt is taking place so that the few people that participate in this industry can acheive incredible wealth. We lose our wonderful precious whales, so that a few greedy people succeed in lining their pockets with money!!! I dont know about you but this is not a good deal to me.

Anyone that dares to criticise the Sea Shepherds actions, should walk in their shoes for a while first, before opening their mouths to criticise.

I agree with Linda 100%. SSCS has all my best blessings

Sea Shepherd will ultimately fail precisely because they use violent means. Now, before anyone starts blasting me for being Pro-Whaling or whatever allow me to point out some historical evidence for that statement.

Men who were successful in their endeavors through the use of nonviolent means: Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Ghandi once said "Violence breeds violence...Pure goals can never justify impure or violent action...They say the means are after all just means. I would say means are after all everything. As the means, so the end....If we take care of the means we are bound of reach the end sooner or later."

Men who have been unsuccessful in their endeavors through the use of violent means: Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush

"We treat them in the same way. Those who kill our women and innocent, we kill their women and innocent, until they refrain." Osama bin Laden

How many times during season 2 of Whale Wars did we hear the term "they just upped the ante"? Violence begets violence...I am truly concerned about what may be a tragic outcome to this upcoming season.

As long as there is demand for whale meat in Japan, the whalers will continue to hunt whales, with or without the Sea Shepherds involvement. It appears that the consumption of whale meat is generally on the decline anyway so what I would propose is hastening it on its way by using that 2 plus million on well placed media ad's showcasing the carnage involved instead of on the Earthrace vehicle. Contrary to their South Park depiction (sarcasm) the Japanese are really a very peaceful and Earth conscience people (Kyoto Protocol) and most mainstream folks would probably respond quite well to a sincere appeal to stop consuming whale meat. Just a thought...

It matters not if one made a difference or not in the past year, its exceptionally subjective and it isn't a prove of credibility.

I cannot agree with the words of Linda kemp, afterall, she is another victim of Sea Shepard's propaganda no matter how hard she tries to deny that fact.

Protection of marine species and maintaining a balanced marine ecology is undoubtedly a noble and important mission but selective protection of species that are deemed "more worthy" for factors like perceived intelligence based on encephalization quotient or simply because it looks cutesy and adorable just doesn't seem right afterall.

Its fine how organizations loves to sugar-coat what they do, resorting to actions that can cause accidents, injuries and fatalities certainly isn't right. Linda Kemp mentioned how making the decks slippery isn't an act of violent, i'll say its an indirect act designed to cause accidents, but of course thats just the tip of the iceberg amongst other acts like throwing smoke grenades and subsequently tear gas, steering their boat into the direct course of a fishing trawler, throwing of glass bottles meant to cause fragmentation upon impact are all acts with the unnerving possibility of causing an accident or injury be it intentional or otherwise.

I support the cause that marine ecology should be respected and conserved but not how Sea Shepard is doing things.

Jess why don't stop whinging about what other people could or could not be doing, when they are doing all they can. Do something yourself if you believe that there is a problem with long lines then start doing something. Stop being a knob and make a difference. Linda asked what did you do to make a difference and all you did was go back and question the SSCS.

Your problem seems to be you like to pull other people down and take no personal responsibility for yourself.

Answer the question Linda asked you.

Stop being smart, it is compassion and a deep understanding you need. That is what seems to be missing in your life other wise you would not have given Linda such a silly response.

Linda.. I have a confession to make. I can't read. Or write, for that matter. Sad, but true.

As for protecting our oceans, my point was there are far more pressing issues than Japanese whalers, seeing as how there won't be a demand for whale meat in Japan much longer anyway. If Gilligan and the S.S. Minnow wanna partake in another season of made for TV escipades, so be it. Just as long as you realize they could use all that time and energy(and money) for more pertinent issues regarding ocean conservation. But if they think Nielson ratings are more important..

I am a big supporter of Sea Shepherd. Shame on our politicians and the rest of the people that stand on the sidelines for not taking Japan to account for torturing and murdering creatures that are undoubtedly more intelligent than they are.

How about some real truth here?

1. Japanese research = whale hunt
2. Sea Shepard = use violence

Yes, I said Japanese hunt whales. They may be hiding behind the research all they want, but we all know the truth. Sea Shepard throws glass bottles at another boat. To me, that is violence. What happens when one of those bottle hits someone in the face? Both side should come clean...

Extremely well put and intelligent response, Linda Kemp. I long for the day when all humans evolve to the point where they live peacefully with all creatures on this planet, human and non-human. I am a proud supporter of Sea Sheperd, they fight the good fight, no matter the odds. And make no mistake, they have exactly the right strategy. Make whaling fiscally unsustainable. Corporations care about one thing, the bottom line. We can all help end whaling. Make a resolution today that for any product you need to buy, make sure it is not Japanese, and then send off emails to the Japanese government and the big Japanese corporations and tell them you are boycotting their products until Japan stops the barbaric practice of slaughtering intelligent beings for blood money. It stopped Mitsubishi from setting up a salt mining operation in the Gray Whale nursery in Baja years ago and it can help end whaling today. Vote with your dollar in everything you do, support companies you believe in with your money and boycott those that don't. We need to realize we are all part of one biosphere, and the sooner we learn to live with it and not against, the better off we all will be.

Jess, try reading. Sea Shepherd website is a good place to start. It will enlighten you to the fact that Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd are trying to protect the oceans and all life in it - not just the whales. They campaign against all violations in the oceans in the defense of all marine life including longlining and driftnetting - and the needless slaughter of sharks. They have a permanent presence in the Galapagos Islands with a canine unit. They were invited there by the government to help in their fight against the poachers. AnaKinG also try reading - and not just the Japanese propaganda. Sea Shepherd haven't hurt anyone. They are not violent - throwing rotten butter and a product designed to make the ship's killing deck slippery cannot seriously be deemed violent!
Think about the size of the oceans, the size of the problems face by the many species of the creatures that live therein - and think. Sea Shepherd is one small organisation, volunteer operated and funded, and in the face of such immense problems it does the very best it can with very little help. Try researching your subject before throwing stones at an organisation who's leader actually walks the talk and does something! A man voted to be one of very few on this earth who will actually make a difference.
What difference did you make to the world this year?

I love the way Sea Shepherd uses violent tactics to achieve their goal. Any means necessary. Yeah, just like black panthers. I wish they would just be honest and say they endorse violence and they drive their conservationist idealogy through hatred. Then, they would truly be cool. :)

Consumption of whale meat falls every year in Japan and will be gone entirely soon enough, with or without another crappy reality show. In fact, the Japanese Prime Minister just announced he hates the taste of it and it's fairly common knowledge young people don't eat it. The older folks who actuallo still do eat whale meat will take the tradition with them to the grave for good. But if Captain Kangaroo thinks he's making a difference..

Why he isn't trying to stop longlining, trawling or other destructive commercial fishing practices(you know, GLOBAL problems which are far more important)is beyond me. You'd think fighting pollution or plastic waste would be higher on the priority list. Ahoy, matie!

Give them hell Paul!

Poachers be damned!

SSCS will continue to destroy the Poachers' profits as they always have during the past 3 years-though, this year the profit devastation will be even deeper.

Many consider the SSCS as "pussies" and etc., but they're taking Japans entire whaling industry down to its knees...

I'm not sure where the pussi-ness is in that.

The Poachers are afraid of them - they continually run from the SSCS, when the SSCS you non-harmful tactics... it's pretty funny, actually.

I wish them the best as they fight against the Japanese Governments' blood-lust and endless greed.


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