Captain Paul Watson and his fellow Sea Shepherd activists are preparing to depart Australia at the end of this month to obstruct Japanese whaling activities in the Antarctic Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary. Last summer, Japan sent coast guard officers down on its whaling ships. This year, Greenpeace believes the Japanese will be sending a coast guard ship to protect its whaling fleet.
“It was reported in a Japan fisheries magazine some weeks ago that the equivalent of $8 million has been allocated to the Japanese coast guard to protect the fleet,” said Steve Shallhorn, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia-Pacific. “So, we made the assumption that that amount of money will be used to send a vessel down there.”
That realization has apparently scared Greenpeace into cancelling previously announced plans to send a ship to oppose Japanese whaling efforts. This means that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will be alone in its high-seas opposition to illegal Japanese whaling operations when the whaling season opens in a month.
“They can send the entire Japanese Navy down to the Southern Ocean if they like, but Sea Shepherd and the crew of the Steve Irwin will not be intimidated by this kind of brutal military thuggery,” said Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson. “When we say we put our lives on the line to defend the whales, we mean it. It’s not just a slogan for us. I have not seen a whale die since I left Greenpeace in 1977 and I have no intention of seeing a whale die this year. They don’t kill whales when we show up and they won’t kill whales when we arrive again this year. They will have to sink us first.”
Of Greenpeace’s announcement that it has changed its mind about participating, Captain Watson was equally blunt. “As a Greenpeace co-founder, I am deeply offended that Greenpeace has been raising millions of dollars in the name of defending whales all year and now two weeks before the Japanese whaling fleet is scheduled to depart, they announce they will not be going,” he said. “In my opinion they collected funds under false pretenses and now they have abandoned the whales. Shame on them.”
Captain Watson added that he intends to sink the Japanese fleet economically. “Our strategy is to … force the Japanese whalers to spend money on fuel without killing whales. We have been the cause of the Japanese whaling fleet losing profits for three years in a row. We intend to make it a fourth year.”
Sea Shepherd activists have rammed Japanese whaling ships, thrown butyric acid onto their decks and even climbed on board. Then last summer, someone aboard a Japanese whaling ship fired a shot at Captain Watson, hitting his bulletproof vest. The incident is highlighted on the new Animal Planet series Whale Wars.