Are you fed up with Japanese whaling, or with the battles between Japanese whaling vessels and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society? Apparently, the U.S., the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand are a bit fed up with the former and a bit worried about the latter. They’ve issued a joint statement (below) both opposing whaling in the Southern Ocean and appealing to Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to make sure “the safety of human life at sea is their highest priority.”
Sea Shepherd founder and Captain Paul Watson does not seem to be as concerned about his crew or others being injured in the course of their activist efforts. Watson has stated: “We at Sea Shepherd have no problem with this. We haven’t sustained any serious injury nor have we caused any injury at sea in 33 years and certainly not in the last six voyages to the Southern Ocean.”
While that may be true, a collision between a Japanese whaling vessel and a $2 million Sea Shepherd boat resulted in the latter being sunk in January 2010. Additionally, Watson has made it clear that the Sea Shepherd’s goal is to act as needed to stop or at least significantly disrupt Japanese whaling:
[W]e have some whalers to stop and we intend to aggressively and effectively oppose them while taking into account the need for safety at sea, and responsibility and concern for all lives involved including those of our own crew, the Japanese whalers and most importantly, for our clients – the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Sea Shepherd Happy with Message of Anti-Whaling Statement but Asks for More
Watson has also expressed a bit of gratitude to these four nations for issuing a statement in opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean, but has expressed frustration that nobody is doing more.
What the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society welcomes however is the fact that the statement issued by the four nations clearly condemns the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet. This statement validates and encourages Sea Shepherd intervention during Operation No Compromise this year.
What we would really like to see is these nations directly upholding international conservation law by sending Naval vessels to the Southern Ocean to enforce the protection of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We often wonder just what it is about the word SANCTUARY that these governments do not seem to understand.
New Zealand Navy Doesn’t Have Good Enough Ship
It seemed at one point that New Zealand might send a Navy warship but it has now said that it doesn’t have a ship in good enough condition. As Watson points out, that’s quite sad and embarrassing if true.
The Kiwi’s on the Sea Shepherd crew were somewhat embarrassed to hear that considering that a small non-profit like Sea Shepherd with a meager budget can send three ships down to the Sanctuary but the New Zealand Navy can’t muster just one to make the same trip.
U.S., Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand Anti-Whaling & Whale Wars Statement
A special statement opposing illegal whaling is a start, I guess. Here’s the full joint statement from the nations mentioned above:
The Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States jointly condemn any actions that imperil human life in the Southern Ocean. We are deeply concerned that confrontations in the Southern Ocean will eventually lead to injury or loss of life among both whaling crews and protestors, many of whom are nationals of our countries.
We call on the masters of all vessels involved in these actions in the Southern Ocean to take responsibility for ensuring that the safety of human life at sea is their highest priority.
We remain resolute in our opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission, and are disappointed at the recent departure of the Japanese whaling fleet for the Southern Ocean.
Our governments respect the right of individuals and groups to protest peacefully, including on the high seas. At the same time, we condemn dangerous or violent activities from all participants. Any unlawful activity will be dealt with in accordance with relevant international and domestic laws.
The Southern Ocean in particular is a remote and unforgiving environment where the risk of adverse incidents is high and the capacity for search and rescue or other assistance is low. Any accident in this region jeopardizes not only the safety of whaling and protest vessels and their crews but also anyone who comes to their assistance.
We are deeply concerned that an incident in this remote region could end tragically. The collision between an anti-whaling vessel and a Japanese vessel on 6 January 2010 demonstrated clearly the dangers involved.
Our Governments jointly call upon the masters of all vessels involved to strictly observe international collision avoidance regulations. We also draw their attention to the International Maritime Organization’s 17 May 2010 resolution on assuring safety during demonstrations, protests, or confrontations on the high seas.
Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States remain committed to the global moratorium on commercial whaling and meaningful reform of the International Whaling Commission.
More on upcoming whale wars:
1. Whale Wars Continuing on Animal Planet, Chance to be a “Whale Warrior”
2. Michelle Rodriguez — Avatar and LOST Star — Joins Sea Shepherd [VIDEO]
Photo Credit: JoAnne McArthur/Sea Shepherd