Maybe some of you have seen the Animal Planet TV show Whale Wars which details the accounts of the Sea Shepherd, an activist group who has devoted their lives to saving whales from the Japanese whaling program in the Antarctic oceans.
The Sea Shepherd is lead by Paul Watson a former Greenpeace activist who believes that you have to do more then just make a media hype, you have to DO something. When I first started watching this show I truly felt a type of camaraderie, to see these people volunteer their lives to save these majestic creatures who have no way to defend themselves.
Sea Shepherd operates within and is attempting to enforce an international treaty stating that a certain amount of Whales can be killed for the purposes of scientific research per year. However Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd have claimed that Japan was taking advantage of this treaty, as found in this court case. Since this discovery the Sea Shepherd has been, in a sense, policing the Antarctic waters; something no other country has had jurisdiction or willingness to do in the international waters. The Japanese have used this loophole to continue their whaling program, killing hundreds of whales yearly and selling their meat to the populations of Japan.
|Whales being killed for research on Japanese Whaling Fleet|
This article is written by GreenPeace, and so it attributes all the credit to this victory to Greenpeace. However, for those who have been paying attention to this situation we know that a large part, if not all the credit, needs to go to the volunteers of the Sea Shepherd and Paul Watson. They used direct action tactics to physically stop the whaling fleets in the Antarctic on multiple occasions , until finally enough attention was given to the whaling fleet by governments and the court.
As a direct result of the International Court of Justice’s historic ruling on Monday, the Government of Japan has officially cancelled plans to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean this coming year.
This will be the first year since 1904, when whaling in the region began, that no whales will be hunted in Antarctic waters.
Greenpeace campaigner John Frizell said :
‘This landmark court ruling is a phenomenal victory for those calling for an end to commercial whaling, and for the world’s whales. We hope that whaling ships will never again set sail to the Southern Ocean, that commercial whaling is consigned to history, and we can instead focus attention on some of the many other threats to the world’s whales and the oceans that they live in’
Greenpeace has sent anti-whaling expeditions to the Antarctic, nine times, starting in 1989 with the last one in 2008. Since then we have been working within Japan to oppose the subsidies that keep whaling alive and to weak the market for whale meat. The market for whale meat in Japan is collapsing and the Antarctic hunt has not been profitable for a long time.