The 1986 ban on whaling has written into it an exception that allows whalers in Japan to hunt approximately 1,000 whales this year for scientific research. Activists, as part of the Sea Shepherd Australia organization, oppose this measure, chasing whalers in Japan throughout the ocean calling their practice a disgusting “bloody, medieval scene,” and something that should not take place in a civilized world.
Every year, Sea Shepherd tries to stop the whalers in Japan during their hunt. This year they have announced that they have caught up with all five of Japan’s whaling ships and have already released several pictures of many killed whales, which are seen lying upon the deck of a ship.
In the recent past, encounters between Japan’s whaling fleets and Sea Shepherd have not ended so amicably. Like a scene out of a modern-day version of Moby Dick, encounters have included aggressive battles employing stink bombs and water cannons. There have also been many ship collisions between the Japanese fleet and the Sea Shepherd’s own boats. One activist even went to a Japanese prison. In the press, the Japanese whalers call these activists terrorists and the Sea Shepherd activists call the Japanese butchers for this “bloody, medieval scene.”
Last year at the United Nations, Australia went to the highest possible court to try to forbid Japan’s provision for whale hunting. Japan argued that their hunt is legal because it provides valuable scientific data. Sea Shepherd argued that meat from whaling in Japan is sold in markets for people to eat, which should make this practice illegal.
Sea Shepherd Australia’s chairman Bob Brown, who was also the former head of Australia’s Green Party, has released a statement saying that Sea Shepherd will try to remain peaceful in their protests this year; but will, nonetheless, be relentless in their attack against whaling in Japan.
Brown says there is blood everywhere in the areas surrounding the deck and around the whaling fleet in Japan. He also reports there is meat that is carved and flung around the deck. The innards can be seen being dumped into the ocean, spreading more blood and parts of the whales’ bodies.
Sea Shepherd has also accused the Australian government of failing to uphold its promise to monitor whaling in Japan. They have released footage of the slaying and carving to both the Australian and New Zealand governments, asking them to intercede.
“This bloody operation would simply not be occurring if we had prime ministers in Canberra and Wellington with the spine to stand up to this illegal operation,” says Sea Shepherd.
They also assert that there must be naval vessels placed in those areas of the ocean to protect the sovereignty of Australia and the whales living near its coast. In the last election, Sea Shepherd says they were promised a “customs vessel” that had surveillance. They argue that at least that campaign promise should be upheld.
Whether the scenes between Sea Shepherd and those whaling in Japan will turn aggressive is unsure. Sea Shepherd activists will, however, remain committed to chasing whalers in Japan as long as their practices resemble a “bloody, medieval scene.”
By Nick Manai