Sea Shepherd has been riding worldwide headlines all this past week, having been given the wonderful gift of a couple of SSCS activists being held against their will for a couple of days after storming the Yushin Maru II. What’s the appeal?
I’m certainly not a tie-dyed hemp underpants wearing California-group-hug greenie- you can take my coal-fired air conditioning when you pry the remote control from my icy-cold (and dehumidified) dead fingers. Saving whales just isn’t something which dominates my daily thoughts, although I do believe there’s no valid reason to kill the beggars. The lame excuse that any scientific research is being done by slaughtering more than a thousand of them a year has well and truly worn out. There’s an astonishing paucity of peer-reviewed scholarly writing coming out of the flimsily justified slaughter.
The Sheps are no angels- far from it. They freely admit having used explosives- a limpet mine- to sink the whaler Sierra in a Lisbon port in 1979. This is the very same sort of attack in which a photographer drowned on the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior when French secret agents bombed it in NZ in 1985. Captain Paul Watson has numerous times rammed outlaw fishers, whalers and sealers with SSCS ships. Violent protest, especially that committed with weapons and/or explosives, is way off my ethical map. It’s not at all hard to call it terrorism. While no one has been injured or killed as a result of a Sea Shepherd ‘direct action,’ considering the dangers of such derring-do, it seems like dumb luck alone which preserves their so far death-free safety record.
All that notwithstanding, every time the Sheps pull some stunt which throws a wrench in the gears of the whalers, I do quietly smile. SSCS is stepping up to the plate where the Australian Government have failed abysmally, despite Labor’s strong declarations, during the recent election campaign and after their victory, that they’d stop the Japanese whaling in Australian Economic Zone and Antarctic Whale Sanctuary waters. We love the Sheps because they cut through the bullshit.
When you consider that the Australian Navy chased down and seized the Viarsa 1 for poaching toothfish, has on numerous occasions burned Indonesian poachers’ boats to the waterline off the Top End, seized the Pong Su and used it for RAAF fighter jet target practise- yet the Japanese whalers are ignored, if not supported by the Australian Government- the hypocrisy is fully breathtaking. The only difference in all these examples is the relationship the Australian Government has with the Japanese Government, which appears to be one of purely economic convenience.
The worst hypocrisy of it all is Stephen Smith and Peter Garrett et al on 19 December 2007, talking up sending out the Oceanic Viking ship and an Airbus A319 aircraft to at very least surveil the whalers- which promptly never happened. Had Potts & Lane not boarded the Yushin Maru II, I strongly suspect Oceanic Viking would still be in port. It’s in every way worse than Howard’s total inaction.
So now, the Australian Government are in cahoots with the whalers, even throwing Sea Shepherd off the trail of the whalers in the process of handing over Potts & Lane after they were rescued from the Yushin Maru.
Most of the Japanese whale catch rots in warehouses; it’s not a popular foodstuff. The hunt goes on because it is financially subsidised by the Japanese Government, else there’d be no profit in it at all. The Japanese ‘national pride’ or cultural tradition arguments don’t wash either- pelagic whaling has only been possible for them since WWII. If they want to hunt whales, let them do so in their own territorial waters, in the traditional way for aboriginal sustenance whale hunts, with wooden boats, oarsmen and hand-thrown harpoons.
Mr Rudd, it’s time to pull your finger out and live up to your promises to stop whaling in Australian waters.
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