Activism at work.

Humpback Whale © Ken Cole

Humpback Whale © Ken Cole

I’ve never written about this here but I have been following this campaign for many years and I have been acquainted with a number of people who have volunteered for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society over those years. Of all of the anti-whaling groups out there they are the most effective but also the most controversial. They operate in international waters against a fleet of Japanese whalers who are illegally hunting in a whale sanctuary near Antarctica. Their actions have been chronicled in the popular Whale Wars series on Animal Planet.

I recently met several dedicated employees and Captain Chuck Swift of the Bob Barker, a ship named after the game show host who donated the funds to buy it, while traveling with my friend Mike Mease of the Buffalo Field Campaign and his stories were amazing. These people really put their lives at risk to save wildlife from unsustainable harvest. Chuck gave me a hoody sweatshirt that I wear with pride.

While this may be a short lived victory, it is sweet nonetheless. I commend them for their dedication.

Ken Cole.

Has the Japanese Whaling Fleet Surrendered?.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Update December 2, 2010: Japanese whaling ship heads to sea

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign‘s Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

64 Responses to Has the Japanese Whaling Fleet Surrendered?

  1. avatar skyrim says:

    Ed Abbey once said (wrote) “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul” These people and their “actions” are admirable beyond measure. It looks like they now have a new tool for their efforts:
    http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-101129-1.html

  2. avatar Salle says:

    This is hopeful news. I have met some of the Sea Shepherd volunteers in the past and champion their efforts and dedication. I hope they are fully effective in ending this draconian assault on ocean mammals, especially in a sanctuary for heaven sake.

    Thanks, Ken for posting this story.

    S.

  3. avatar Mtn Mamma says:

    Civil Disobedience at its finest! The planet needs more sea shepereds.

  4. avatar Peter Kiermeir says:

    Hopefully this was a success in the southern Ocean regions. On a political basis, Japan is about to initiate the next round:
    http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-propose-creating-new-organization-of-whaling-nations

  5. avatar jdubya says:

    I love these guys. The sad thing about the whaling fleet not going to hunt whales is that there will not be a Whale Wars TV season next year. I really admire the work of this group and wish I had the balls to quit my job and go join them.

  6. avatar monty says:

    amen,amen,amen to all of the above comments!!!!!!!

  7. avatar Kayla says:

    O My Gosh! Can we have hope? I hope this whaling ends for the sake of the whales.

  8. avatar JimT says:

    We need to translate this to dry land…Hayduke Lives! ;*)

  9. avatar SEAK Mossback says:

    I’ve never seen the Sea Shepherds in action against whalers — sounds like they’ve been pretty effective — but they are a very diverse and fun lot. A few years ago, a wealthy benefactor turned his remote lodge far up a saltwater inlet SE of Ketchikan over to them for a headquarters site, although they have since moved out. It happened to be near a salmon research project at a lake outlet, which is the only other habitation for many miles, so we socialized with them a fair amount.

    Paul Watson is an entertaining guy with a lot of stories. One involved some Canadian first nations folks (definitely carnivores) interacting with other crew who were vegans when a delivery of frozen chickens ruptured and scattered all over the deck. Paul himself enjoys a good steak.

    When a young black bear appeared on the weir, he said “Its mother must have been killed by bear hunters!” (unlikely) and then held forth about his friend Tim Treadwell whom he claimed knew everything there was to know about bears (although I think even he may have been surprised by one later that very fall).

    They had a year-round caretaker, a pleasant young fellow who’d become reasonably savvy in the ways of the region. A couple of Scotsmen who had come in on one of the ships decided to set some of the Dungeness crab pots lying around by the lodge. However, the buoys were not properly labeled and by chance an enforcement patrol vessel happened by and checked them. The officers then pulled over to the dock and asked the caretaker if he’d set them. Since the lodge is much closer to where Sea Shepherd ships crossed the Canadian border than to the nearest customs station, he figured referring the officers to the Scotsmen could open a whole can of worms, being unsure of their status with U.S. Customs/Immigration. So he reluctantly claimed sole responsibility. As they were handing him the ticket, one asked “By the way, why did you bait them with lettuce and tomatoes?”. By the time it was all over, he’d missed a court appearance in Ketchikan (because his boat had broken down trying to get there) and spent a night of hard jail time after being towed in by the Coast Guard — in addition to suffering the humiliation of admitting he’d been baiting crab pots with vegetables.

    • avatar WM says:

      My sense of the Sea Shepherd crowd is that a good portion of the crew of these vessels have more passion/convictions than brains (not unlike some other causes discussed on this forum). Your stories suggest some of the same. Stories of crossing the bow (or stopping in front) of a whaling ship under way in a zodiac or larger vessel are indicative of such behavior. The Navy (other service branches too) has clinical psychological acronym for it, screen for it, and they keep those folks from operation of high value assets like planes. NAFOD – No apparent fear of death.

      Wonder if some of these folks have the condition, especially when a boat pilot does this kind of crap with a crew on board? No doubt Sea Sheperd has all crew associated with them sign a waiver of liability to keep wrongful death suits from sucking them dry of funds. I also bet the insurance on their boats is sky high, if they even have it.

      There an incident involving a new high tech Sea Shepherd boat some months back that sliced it up pretty good (sunk it actually), and almost killed some of the crew? I vaguely remember an unresolved issue of who was at fault. This stuff continues to escalate, illegal whaling that it apparently was, and when that happens both sides do dumb things.
      I found the link to video of the crash, and this could have been really bad:

      http://news.discovery.com/videos/animals-rammed-anti-whaling-boat-sinks.html

  10. avatar WM says:

    By the way, here is the new replacement for the Ady Gil (the one that sunk). It is called Godzilla, and has a higher pilot house. Very neat looking 21st Century boat, especially if its catamaran-like hydrodyamic design features work. Sea Shepherd is headquartered on San Juan Island (off the north Washington Coast at the mouth of Puget Sound)

    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/sanjuans/jsj/news/111085119.html

  11. avatar nabeki says:

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010
    Whaling…it’s All About the Money!
    Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
    http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-101130-1.html

    • avatar jon says:

      Whale hunting and dolphin hunting needs to be banned It’s disgusting these amazing animals are being slaughtered when they don’t have to in the first place. these animals deserve the right to live.

  12. avatar Ann Sydow says:

    Ken, You are so lucky to have met the Bob Barker/Sea Shepard crew! Hey if they’re all done out there, they can come help us landlubbing wolf advocates with the WOLF WARS…:D

  13. avatar Phil says:

    nabeki: When governments are involved in accepting the deaths of wildlife, it’s always about the money. Just look at the Wolf issues. Governments of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are accepting public hunts on Wolves, right? Why? Becuase they work closely with governmental organizations that get their salaries paid from hunters/outfitters.

  14. avatar wolf moderate says:

    Unsure as to how I missed this thread, but wow. How could you blame the whaling ship in the accident. Unreal. When a bunch of young (and one creapy old guy), ignorant kids try to get in the way of a huge ship, chit happens. I mean, constantly attacking the whalers who are law abiding citizens is ludicrous to me.

    If I were captain of the whaling boats I would place a “shoot to kill” order on anyone who causes damage to the screws or vandalizes the ship.

    Get a clue ppl. IT’S LEGALLLLLLLLLLLLLllll

    • avatar Salle says:

      I think that the Sea Shepherd group are trying to call some global attention to this highly destructive practice. It may be legal but that doesn’t mean that is right, appropriate or sound in the face of the damage incurred… thus the dangerous manner in which these protests are conducted. If you can’t get the wolrd’s attention by being civil, you have to go out on a limb to bring attention to the issue(s). Unfortunately, that’s what corporate media hath wrought.

      It shouldn’t be legal and that is the point.

    • avatar jon says:

      You get a clue. It does not matter if it’s legal or not, it’s WRONG in a lot of people’s eyes and dolphins and whales should not be treated like this. Guess what, canned hunting of african lions is legal and a lot of people are disgusted by it. I give the sea shepard a lot of credit for what they do, trying to save whales. Infact, those whalers who kill the whales should be fed to the whales imo. They are scum. Toby Bridges is a law abiding citizen too (as far as we know), but yet he advocates illegal poisoning of wildlife. Just because something is legal does not always make it right.

  15. avatar wolf moderate says:

    Well, using that logic I guess Rammel is just trying to get some media attention on something that he feels deeply about. I don’t eat dolphin or whale meat, but I don’t think it’s our decision (a bunch of white people) to tell the japanese what to do. It’s a traditional source of food. The Sea Shepard crew seem to be a bunch of rich, white, spoiled brats. Why don’t they get a job…Probably because they don’t need one (mommy and daddy has there back).

    • avatar Salle says:

      The Sea Shepard crew seem to be a bunch of rich, white, spoiled brats. Why don’t they get a job…Probably because they don’t need one (mommy and daddy has there back).

      Or perhaps they just aren’t capitalists.

      • avatar Save bears says:

        Well if they aren’t, then they are living off the backs of a capitalist!

        And when it comes down to it, what is wrong with capitalism?

      • avatar Salle says:

        Basically, everything. But this is not the place for that topic line.

      • avatar Save bears says:

        Only in your opinion Salle, there are many that disagree with you, but I agree, this is not the place for this topic line, however you were the one that mentioned it!

      • avatar WM says:

        Salle,

        The topic of capitalism is entirely appropriate here. SeaShepherd has been a recipient of generous support from many capitalists. Bob Barker (for whom the “Bob Barker” boat is named for), and one time host of the “Price is Right” earned his entire fortune as a capitalist or the beneficiary of capitalists. He advertised and hawked for them for well over twenty years, as the sponsors of his show. Just look what is behind door number 3! [applause as curtain opens to reveal…..] a brand new Chevrolet…. Cartier watch….living room set by Spiegel…Whirlpool washer and dryer! The list goes on and on and on.

        What is interesting is that when capitalists reach a saturation of wealth they feel or are obligated to “give back.” Or, maybe it is a sense of guilt. I expect many environmental groups benefit from those who are able to give generously out of guilt. Another good example – Bill Gates.

      • avatar Salle says:

        Save Bears,

        Not only in my opinion…

        WM,

        So?

      • avatar Save bears says:

        Salle,

        On this subject, I do know there are others that believe as you, but I feel you and others are in the minority.

      • avatar Salle says:

        Save Bears,

        Maybe in this country but that’s not true throughout the world.

      • avatar Save bears says:

        Salle,

        You may be right, but you and I live in this country and in my life I have traveled to many areas of the world and I will take this country..

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        “I will take this country..” and so will the majority of world’s population.

    • avatar wolf moderate says:

      I (heart) Michael Moore (grin)!

  16. avatar wolf moderate says:

    “You get a clue. It does not matter if it’s legal or not, it’s WRONG in a lot of people’s eyes and dolphins and whales should not be treated like this. Guess what, canned hunting of african lions is legal and a lot of people are disgusted by it. I give the sea shepard a lot of credit for what they do, trying to save whales. Infact, those whalers who kill the whales should be fed to the whales imo. They are scum. Toby Bridges is a law abiding citizen too (as far as we know), but yet he advocates illegal poisoning of wildlife. Just because something is legal does not always make it right”

    Jon,
    if it is indeed legal and they would like to make it illegal, why not do what the wolf advocates are doing. Take it to the courts. The way in which they are trying to stop whaling is wreckless and dangerous. Soon (rightfully so), the Japanese will start using live amunition on they spoiled, confused, white kids. Why is it sick to kill whales? I’m confused…

    Do you know that there is a massive amount of poaching that goes on in Africa? Did you also no that now that there is a monetary value on animals such as the lion, that the governments and individuals are protecting the herds from poachers? So one insecure, rich, white male kills a lion for 10’s of thousands of dollars. Everyone wins. The lions, the locals through money spent in the local economy, and the world, because through regulalted hunting, it will be assured that lions will be here for a long time to come.

    I feel it is sick and wrong for people to own cats. They are a worthless animal that inflicts major damage upon urban wildlife. Why do people need pets anyway? I think it’s wrong, so I’m going to kill every cat I see. After that every dog…and so on. Does this logic make sense jon?

    There are always people that want to dictate what others should. The reason we have laws is to keep these people under control. Also, did you know that the Sea Sheperd has scuttled several whaling vessels? Did you know Green Peace (A bunch of loons) voted unanimously to kick the whale wars captain out of Green Peace? That should tell ya somethin’ there Jon!

    Get a Clue.
    PS: Think w/ your brain and not your heart. It’s much easier to make a difference in the world that way 🙂

    • avatar jon says:

      There are a lot of things that aren’t right and are legal. Take abortion for instance, many people don’t like it and are sickened by it, but it’s legal. You feel it is sick and wrong that people own cats? Why? many people own cats and take very good care of them. The cats live a pretty good life. How are cats a worthless animal to you? wanna you try telling the millions of cats owners who love their cats that cats are worthless animals. People need pets because some people love animals and love taking care and being around them. Why do people need to kill whales and dolphins? You’re going to kill every cat you see? You say it is sick and wrong to own and take care of cats, but yet you want to kill every cat you see? maybe you are the sick one.

      • avatar jon says:

        If you did not have people who didn’t think with their hearts, you wouldn’t having people trying to save animals and protect them.

    • avatar jon says:

      Lions are in prides, not herds.

  17. avatar wolf moderate says:

    Wow. Just wow Jon. No response necessary.

    GL in you endeavors. You are just too irrational to have debate w/.

  18. avatar wolf moderate says:

    I was speaking of African animals in general…

    • avatar jon says:

      Going to court to try and change something that you feel is not right takes a lot of time and money. Some people feel that they just don’t have that kind of time and take action themselves such as the sea shepard is doing. The sea shepard are doing what they can to try and stop whalers from killing whales.

    • avatar jon says:

      Protecting the “herds” you say,

      http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36358:chinese-poachers-slaughter-rhinos&catid=69:sunday-top-stories&Itemid=30

      The money that comes from these Trophy hunts are providing real good protection for these african animals I see, NOT!!!

    • avatar jon says:

      http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2010/1105/Crowded-into-parks-by-poachers-a-lion-attacks-camper-in-Zimbabwe

      Where is this money going that is supposed to protect the wildlife? More illegal killing and I thought the money made from trophy hunts is supposed to protect the wildlife? Maybe you should just admit that these trophy hunts are not doing what some claimed they would do and that is protecting wildlife because clearly anyone can see all of the poaching that is going on.

      • avatar Elk275 says:

        ++Where is this money going that is supposed to protect the wildlife? More illegal killing and I thought the money made from trophy hunts is supposed to protect the wildlife? Maybe you should just admit that these trophy hunts are not doing what some claimed they would do and that is protecting wildlife because clearly anyone can see all of the poaching that is going on.++

        Wow, Jon. You you have little idea of what is going on in the west about wolves and definitely nothing about Zimbabwe, and it’s wildlife. You have never been there, know nothing about the political situation. I doubt that you have any idea about anything except the Goggle search function key. Get out and travel the west and the world, the goggle search function key only takes you to the cover of the book.

        One of my good friends in Bozeman is an old Rhodesian Game Ranger ( 1976 to 1980) and I visit with him 3 or 4 times a week. It has taken years for him to talk about his days as a game ranger doing culling work and anti poaching work. I would never talk about it on a public forum. After independence and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe things changed fast. If Robert Mugabe gives his approval, then the Chinese are going to kill rhinos regardless. Anti poaching patrols are not going to do anything about it. It may not be right, but it is happening and will continue to happen, until this madman is replaced and by then, maybe all of the rhinos in Zimbabwe will have been poached out. It is an ugly situation. Who knows maybe his replacement is going to be even worst and then the elephants will be gone.

      • avatar jon says:

        Elk, you just cannot stand the fact that the money made from these trophy hunts is not doing what some like claim it is doing and that is protecting wildlife from poachers. Trophy hunters are not saving shit. They kill animals for trophies than brag about how they are helping save african wildlife from poachers and that is a crock of shit. All of the poaching going on proves that and this is in places where trophy hunters hunt these amazing animals. How much of that money made from trophy hunts ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians? The fact is this, no amount of money made from these disgusting trophy hunts is going to save wildlife and protect it like you trophy hunts love to claim. There will always be poaching and that is a fact.

      • avatar Save bears says:

        Better watch out Elk,

        Remember “That is a Fact”

        Cripes..

      • avatar jon says:

        I am aware of the politics that is going on over there. Are you aware that trophy hunters are working with poachers? Yes, those people you defend are working with criminals who kill wildlife.

        http://www.rhinoconservation.org/2010/06/02/syndicate-bust-links-trophy-hunting-to-rhino-poaching-in-south-africa/

        http://fromtheold.com/news/trophy-hunters-kill-last-endangered-desert-male-lion-namibia-2010051118096.html

        About this, trophy hunters killing the last endangered desert lion. More and more people are becoming aware of what trophy hunters are about and all you can do to defend them is say, you don’t know anything bla bla bla. Typical.

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        Jon,

        here ya go. I guess trophy hunting (and hunting in general) is working.

        http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070315-hunting-africa.html

        PS: This is not a personal attack, but a plea. Please go to doctor and see if you have Aspergers. If you do, that could explain why you zero in on one sliver of an issue and can’t grasp other parts.

      • avatar jon says:

        Thanks for that link, but a newer and recent article would be better. Trophy hunts are supposed to protect wildlife so some claim, but there is a lot of poaching going on. Clearly a trophy hunt or should I say the money made from it is not going to stop poachers from poaching. You can hire as many conservation officers as you want, but that will not get rid of poaching.

        http://www.allvoices.com/news/6038850-zimbabwe-poachers-kill-10-elephants-in-one-day

      • avatar wolf moderate says:

        Jon,

        According to the article linked below, Zimbabwe has (as of 2009) 100,000 elephants, which is nearly twice what the country can hold. It is always sad to see animals killed only for antlers, horns, spleens etc…But the elephants are not endangered.

        http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=1814&cat=8&livedate=9/7/2010

  19. avatar wolf moderate says:

    “Going to court to try and change something that you feel is not right takes a lot of time and money. Some people feel that they just don’t have that kind of time and take action themselves such as the sea shepard is doing. The sea shepard are doing what they can to try and stop whalers from killing whales”.

    DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT LIKE OR CONDONE THE ACTIONS OF RAMMEL OR ANY OTHER WOLF-HATING NUTZ!.

    Jon,
    Using your logic, Rammel is doing exactly what the Sea Sheperd crew are doing. That is taking the law into there own hands on an issue they feel (in their heart) about. Rammel feels that wolves should be delisted and put under state control (which would mean wolf hunting). It seems that he decided that waiting for the wolf issues to work it’s way through the courts, that him and other likemind people would institute some vigilante justice.

    Sea Sheperd scuttled several privately owned vessels.

    Rammel and White talk a big game but have not openly acted on their beliefs. Okay, Rammel killed a cow elk.

    • avatar jon says:

      The difference is is that Rammell wants to eradicate the wolf while the sea shepard are trying to save whales.

  20. avatar wolf moderate says:

    Cites even condones hunting endangered species…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3713688.stm

    • avatar jon says:

      I noticed in that article this.

      Local communities can benefit more from the whale watching industry than from an industry which kills whales and has a falling demand for the meat
      Lisa Kitson, Bermuda

  21. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Jon, Wolf moderate,

    I think both of you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues regarding legality of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary which is where the fights over Japanese whaling are taking place. First, the whaling is taking place in a whaling sanctuary that was designated by the International Whaling Commission.

    While the Japanese argue that the Sanctuary is illegal, the Sanctuary is still designated as a sanctuary and many countries argue that whaling is illegal there.

    The other issue revolves around the fact that there is no enforcement either way by the nations that claim these oceans as either territorial waters or a sanctuary.

    There is also an issue about who has enforcement over what is occurring outside of the whaling issue. The Sea Shepherds have not broken any laws while interfering with the Japanese whalers. There is no country with jurisdiction over their interference and some countries might even be supportive of their actions.

    The issues of whether either side of the issue is right or wrong are purely philosophical. My personal feeling is that the Japanese whalers are squarely on the wrong side and are being horrendously dishonest about their motivations for whaling. There is no rational reason to be killing endangered whales especially when a full understanding of how fundamentally whales contribute to the ecology of the ocean ecosystems. They are an indispensable part of the ocean ecology that must be fully recovered and we kill them at our own peril. I truly mean that.

    I recommend that anyone who questions whether that is the case read up on how whaling fundamentally changed the ecology of the Alaskan oceans and how it effected everything from krill to sea lions to herring to pollock. It is really startling.

    Paul Watson has been criticized for saying that worms are more important than people but he’s right. If you think about it, we can’t live without things like worms or bees. They are fundamental parts of the ecology of this planet. That same balance in the oceans is also critical.

    • avatar jon says:

      Ken, I’m against killing whales period. It does not matter if they are endangered or not to me. There is no reason at all to kill whales. If they are being killed for food purposes, there are plenty of other things to kill besides whales. Whales and dolphins should not be killed at all imo.

  22. avatar Nancy says:

    Save bears Says:
    December 19, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    And when it comes down to it, what is wrong with capitalism?

    A “former” friend in Florida asked me that same question awhile back as he pulled the plug on a successuful business he owned, which had slowed down because of the “recession”

    It seems rather than wait out the hard times, make some adjustments and… care for the people who cared and dedicated themselves to his business, he decided to shut donn for a few months and wait for the next shift of revolving door employees to show up when things picked up.

    And by the way, the guy was worth millions so don’t give me a song and dance about how he should of been worried about future income.

  23. avatar wolf moderate says:

    Work for capitalist or work for da gov’t…Hmmm

    If there’s no work then why would a rich friend worth millions pay ppl to do nothing? Dunno, seems like flushing $$$ down the toilet.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Ah, but here’s “the rest of the story” Wolf. Those employees asked to lease his business, the one he could afford to give up on because he really didn’t have to worry about making a living, because they were not willing to give up. How many times do you think that senerio has been repeated over the last few years?

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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