Sunday, March 25, 2012

Whale Wars: Who Really Won?

Now that it's all over for another season (and hopefully the last season!)...just who won?
Sea Shepherd declared itself the victor after Japan's whaling fleet left the Antarctic with less than a third of its expected catch...but the nasty Nippons claim they were due to head home then anyway.
After fruitlessly pursuing the whalers for much of the season, Paul Watson trumpeted the mission a success: "Is it a victory? Yes. We kept them running almost for the whole three months." However SS only caught the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru twice in that period - once on Christmas Day 2011 and then again on Monday 5th March. A day later, NM and its harem turned for Tokyo, causing SS to announce a decisive victory. Was that really a win?
Japan's Fisheries Agency (FAJ) announced its fleet was heading home on schedule, but that its catch of 267 whales fell far short of the approx. 900 projected. Michihiko Kano, Japan’s minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, said they killed 266 Antarctic minke whales (compared to a government quota of 850) plus one fin (compared to a quota of 50). Japan's Mainichi Daily News reported the low numbers were due to bad weather, but noted SS obstructed the whaling operations 11 times during the season. That catch is the second lowest for many seasons, after the whalers were forced out of the Antarctic last year, having taken only 172 whales.
FAJ's NZ mouthpiece Glenn "Ginza" Inwood had earlier stated that any catch figures would not be released until several weeks after the fleet reached port...yet there was FAJ spilling the beans within days of the whalers heading northward!
Captain of SS's Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, was surprised how quickly the Japanese abandoned their activities when they were spotted: "It was not an incredibly dramatic confrontation. As soon as the factory ship saw us on the horizon, they immediately changed course for Japan. The fleet decided rather than have confrontation, they would call the whaling season short." Then again, perhaps they really were due to leave then. Stranger things have happened...
[The Oz govt welcomed the early end to the whaling season. It says the hunt is against international law, which is why its continuing legal action in the International Court of Justice to try to stop it. Japan's given no indication it is prepared to end the hunt. Instead this year it screwed its own people, taking $28 million from a tsunami relief budget to pay the Institute of Cetacean Research's debts and provide fleet security.
Meanwhile the Wizards Of Oz are studying Japan's lengthy response to its case against "research whaling" in the International Court of Justice. A second round of confidential written submissions may be lodged with the court before any oral hearing of the case in open court. Though resolution was hoped for before the start of this season, it's unlikely any decision will be reached before the next Antarctic whaling season begins in Dec.2012.]
But, returning to the here-and-now:
+SS only sights NM twice in three months - yet claims victory.
+SS's BB capitano surprised how quickly the Japanese turned tail.
+NM heads north immediately upon seeing BB - but says it was all planned.
+Nippon spokesman Innwood says no kill info for quite a few weeks - then FAJ releases numbers within days.
+And in the background, behind those figures, lurks the mayor of the whaling port of Shimonoseki, on record (Dec.2011) saying: "They don't need three harpoon vessels because I don't think they're planning to kill any more than 300 whales."
SS played plenty of games this season, designed to gain publicity and also befuddle the whalers:
+The pre-publicity over the supposed freeze on its helicopter pilot's visa. But as I pointed out, Paul Watson knew all along this was not true...
+Then SS helped three Forest Rescue activists to board a whaling ship - a cunning plan to try and separate it from the SS ship it was tailing. It might have worked...but it didn't, due to the Oz govt being too scared to stand up to Japan.
+The use of drones was innovative (after the ridiculous Oz govt. demand for an Environmental Impact Assessment), but the crap weather limited it also did to Brigette Bardot, sidelining it for the duration with major damage.
+SS's misinformation tactics eventually shook loose BB's tail and allowed it to close on NM.
+As for the Japanese, did they continuously violate Australian EEZ because they knew they wouldn't be back next year?
+And switching their hunting to an area outside where they wanted to "research", merely highlighted that the laughable notion of Japan studying whales is a total farce.
Can't imagine the film footage for this season of Whale Wars will be overly exciting (as not much seemed to happen, apart from lousy weather and endless weeks of chasing waves), however that's the nature of the beast, and the dollars still roll in. And when you tally up the Whale Wars franchise, public support - and the support of big guns like Martin Sheen, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Bono, George Clooney and Bill Clinton - Sea Shepherd is powerful, cashed up and here to stay. Are the whalers?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter who said what? The good thing is the Jap bastards are gone and hope threy won't come back!!!