Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Chess Game in the Southern Ocean Begins

December is just a few short months away and that means that the famous "Whale Wars" will once again be waged in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As usual the combatants in this war will be the Japanese Whaling Fleet and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Over the past two years, Sea Shepherd has by far held an advantage in the war over the whalers. Last year the Japanese whalers caught less than 25% of what their quota was. Japan has directly pointed the finger at Sea Shepherd for this, which Sea Shepherd sees as a victory. This year though, it appears the pieces are already moving as Japan appears more than desperate to get away from Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Japan has continued to divert funds from the tsunami relief effort to buff security on it's whaling ships. Japan has also made public statements stating that the whaling fleet will not be going south this year due to repairs that are needed on the factory ship. Sea Shepherd informants however have discovered the whaling fleet's docking area and sure enough the factory ship is getting loaded and ready to head south as is the rest of the whaling fleet. So Japan claiming that they are not going south this year really mounts to nothing but a really poor attempt at getting Sea Shepherd off of their backs for the year. Last year the Japanese whaling fleet consisted of one factory ship, 2 harpoon vessels, and a security vessel. These vessels were opposed by the Sea Shepherd fleet of 2 ships, one high speed trimaran, several unmanned drones, and a helicopter. Odds are the whaling fleet has not increased in size due to the millions and millions of dollars that Sea Shepherd has cost the industry over the past few years. Sea Shepherd however is now ready to match the whaling fleet ship for ship with the addition of a fourth, unknown vessel. 

What I mean by that is that nobody knows what this boat looks like. Nobody knows where it is. Nobody knows how fast it is. Nobody really knows anything about it with the exception of those close to Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson. What role this boat will have in the anti whaling campaign remains to be seen, but chances are it could wind up being the final nail in the coffin for the Japanese Whaling Fleet. So why in the world does this war get waged every year?

Every year from December into the Spring the Japanese Whaling Fleet goes down to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to perform what they call scientific research. The claim that research is going on down there is part of a loop hole that exists on the moratorium of commercial whaling. The hole states that whales can be killed for scientific research and only in that case can the meat be sold. Japan has fought feverishly to have the moratorium reversed while still killing whales for profit. There has been no research coming from Japan in the Southern Ocean for years, a big sign that chances are there is no research going on. Another issue lies within the whalers hunting grounds themselves. The hunting grounds are located within an Australia controlled whale sanctuary. So in a sense what the whalers are doing is really not different than what poachers do in wildlife reserves around the world. They go down there, they kill, they make profit. Australia has threatened to take Japan to court over the issue, but so far they have not stepped up to the plate. What the Japanese Whaling Fleet is doing is illegal. There is to be know killing of whales in that whale sanctuary, that is Australian rule. There is to be no commercial whaling. That is the rule of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Japan breaks both of these rules, but Australia won't step up to the plate to do something about it and in the IWC other problems exist. Those problems include Japan threatening smaller nations if they do not cooperate in their bid to see the moratorium overturned. Prostitution has entered the IWC with Japanese representatives offering prostitutes to other representatives in exchange for their cooperation. The most common problem though is bribery. Nothing speaks louder in this world than cash. Japan apparently has enough to throw at other countries in order to keep their dying industry alive while it's own people continue to be homeless after the tsunami. 

So the scene is set for what could be the final act in the whale wars. Sea Shepherd has the Japanese whalers against the ropes, but only time will tell if this will truly be the last stand for the whalers. Both Sea Shepherd and the Japanese Whaling Fleet are set to head down to the Southern Ocean in late November/early December. For Sea Shepherd, the Operation is entitled No Compromise. I will be passing on any news I see about the operation here as a part of Operation Sadistic Truths. I will present both sides of any story that I can find information on and weigh in my opinions. So stay tuned here for more info on Operation No Compromise as it becomes available or check out www.seashepherd.org for more information as well. My next blog will be the first shark blog of Operation Sadistic Truths.

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