Paul Watson: Japanese whaling industry are the real ecoterrorists

By Guest Columnists

Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is attempting to disrupt Japanese "research" whaling in the Antarctic. He responds to accusations of "eco-terrorism" [link at bottom of page] by Hiroshi Hatanaka, director-general of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research.

ABOARD FARLEY MOWAT, SOUTHERN OCEAN - Yesterday, Hiroshi Hatanaka, the Director General of the Institute for [Commerce posing as] Cetacean Research, sent an open letter to Greenpeace Japan. In the letter he accused Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of piracy and made hysterical accusations of eco-terrorism.

Of course it is now routine for every ecologically destructive industry in the world to label their critics as eco-terrorists so that comment is easily dismissed. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has never been convicted of any felony crime and from what I understand eco-terrorism is a felony. Hatanaka may have his opinions but his opinions have no basis in fact.

If I am an eco-terrorist then why was I not arrested for such in New Zealand, Australia, the United States or Canada? Why is my ship flying the flag of Canada? Why am I travelling freely on my Canadian passport as a resident of the United States?

Mr Hatanaka should investigate the facts before he makes accusations that he cannot substantiate.

Mr Hatanaka threatens us with piracy charges yet there has been no attempt to board and loot any Japanese whaling vessel that I am aware of.

Ecoterrorism is terrorism against the environment. This is exactly what Japan is doing. The Japanese whale extermination plan labelled Jarpa 2 will slaughter 17,000 Piked [minke] whales, 800 Fin whales and 800 Humpback whales over the next few years. This is eco-terrorism.

Japan is a bully nation that takes what it wants and threatens any who oppose it. This is what they are doing now.

It is Japan that is violating international conservation law.

Specifically this can be summarised as:

1. The Japanese are whaling in violation of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium on commercial whaling. The IWC scientific committee does not recognise this bogus "research" that the Japanese are using as an excuse.

2. The Japanese are killing whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary.

3. The Japanese are killing whales unlawfully in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

4. The Japanese are targeting Fin whales this year and Humpback whales next year. These are endangered species and thus this is a violation of Cites, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.

5. The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19(a). The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock:

   19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10.

Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.

6. In addition, the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides:

   (d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.

What law has Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd broken?

On Christmas day, the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru attempted to ram the Sea Shepherd vessel Farley Mowat. The video clearly shows the factory vessel bearing down with the Farley Mowat on its starboard side. It is the Farley Mowat that had the right of way according to the maritime rules of the road.

I ordered my crew to openly throw a mooring line from the stern in plain sight of the Japanese captain. In fear of fouling his prop he turned away and aborted his collision course. I bet the Japanese do not have a video showing a different perspective because that was the only perspective they could have documented. It is our video evidence against their word.

Hatanaka accuses us of breaking international law yet he does not state what these laws are that we are allegedly breaking.

It is not illegal to interfere on the high seas against their illegal whaling activities. In fact we are legally authorised to do so in accordance with the UN World Charter for Nature.

The United Nations World Charter for Nature states in Section 21:

   States and. To the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organisations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:

   (c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature, and the protection of the environment;

   (d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdiction , or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction,

   (e) safeguard and conserver nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

And finally Section 24 states:

   Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter; acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present charter are met.

This is what we are doing in the waters of the Southern Ocean. We are acting as individuals and non-governmental organisations to uphold international conservation law for the purpose of protecting the environment. In so doing we are challenging a rogue pirate nation intent upon arrogantly violating international conservation law.

The crime here is the illegal slaughter of thousands of whales. There is no such thing as research whaling and even if there was, it is still not legal.

Australia is obligated to enforce international conservation and Australian law against Japan in the Australian Antarctic Territory but so far they have irresponsibly refused to do so because of economic conflicts of interest with the nation that is trespassing in their territory.

To Mr Hatanaka, I say charge us with these supposed crimes you are accusing us of and let's take this circus to court, even to the Japanese courts if need be. Let's expose this charlatan business for what it is – greed, profit, and illegal exploitation.

There is violence down here on these waters, it is the horrific rupture and gaping wounds of screaming whales dying in slow convulsions as their hot blood is spilt into the frigid waters. It is the callous disregard for human life by the butchers on the Japanese ships who view interference with their illicit profits as justification for assault.

No Mr Hatanaka, we will not cease and desist and although I cannot speak any longer for Greenpeace, the organisation I helped to found, I can assure you that neither Sea Shepherd nor Greenpeace will back down to your demands to cease to protect the whales from your illegal slaughter.

We are down here to shut this bloody illegal slaughter down and we will not retreat – ever!

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