The Sea Shepherd Society's latest run-in with Japanese whalers may have damaged one of their vessels, but it has paid off in publicity says Kerre Woodham.

It's pointless wasting time and money investigating the collision between the Sea Shepherd craft and the Japanese whaling vessel in the Southern Ocean this week.

According to the Sea Shepherd's founder, Paul Watson, the truth is irrelevant. The Sea Shepherd organisation is a far more militant outfit than Greenpeace, whose members are made up of nice, middle-class luvvies.

Greenpeace's clear-eyed kids probably do believe in saving the planet but not at the expense of lasting injury or convictions that would prevent them segueing from genteel protestors to paid-up members of the bourgeoisie.

Sea Shepherd sailors are made of sterner stuff. They're a group of well-supported vigilantes who believe in direct action to draw attention to what they claim is illegal activity on the high seas.

They proudly state they have been responsible for the sinking of 10 whaling ships and the destruction of millions of dollars worth of equipment. Although this latest collision has severely damaged one of their craft, the column inches generated will mean at least part of their mission is accomplished.

- HERALD ON SUNDAY