|Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew|
Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society -- and star of the popular reality TV show “Whale Wars” on Animal Planet -- believes Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami brought about a big change in Japanese whaling.
“This recent disaster will most likely be the final end to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, and make it a 100 percent certainty that they will not return,” he wrote a few days ago on the Sea Shepherd website. “The economic hit that Japan has just taken will make further subsidies [for whaling] very unpopular.”
Each winter, during Japan’s whaling season in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary off the coast of Antarctica, vessels from Sea Shepherd wage a war against Japanese whalers, who kill hundreds of whales in the name of research.
Sea Shepherd contends it’s an illegal commercial whaling operation and does everything it can to disrupt the whaling fleet, including throwing stink bombs of butyric acid onto the Japanese vessels, along with ramming, boarding and disabling them.
In mid-February, the whaling fleet headed home early, thwarted by Sea Shepherd’s efforts in what was its seventh anti-whaling campaign. Watson estimates that the whaling fleet did not even take 10 percent of its quota, the Sea Shepherd saving more than 900 whales this season.
Even before the disaster in Japan, Watson said he was 75 percent certain the whaling fleet would not return to the Southern Ocean next winter because it knows Sea Shepherd can stop its efforts, it is deeply in debt to the Japanese government, and whaling is becoming more and more of an embarrassment to the government of Japan.
Of course, there is another possibility that Japan may once again see whale meat as a cheap food for a nation in crisis just as the whaling fleet was organized in 1946 by American Army General Douglas MacArthur to provide cheap protein for post-war civilian populations. Such a move would be blatantly commercial and thus illegal. Japan may appeal to world sympathy for justification, but most likely, they won’t get it.Knowing Watson, you can count on it.
We will be watching the Japanese whaling fleet closely. If it looks like they intend to return, then Sea Shepherd will also return.
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