The other night I happened onto the story of the Sea Shepherd organization and their recent accident. In the below video, their anti-whaling ship the Adi Gil was rammed and sunk by a Japanese security ship as it worked to protect an illegal Japanese whaling ship. Japan whales by calling their whale hunting scientific in purpose.
It peaked my interest and I spent the next hour reading through the seashepherd.org website. Truly an amazing history documented here ranging from being attributed with huge gains in the anti-whaling movement to activity against Canada and the seal hunt. The story of the original Sea Shepherd ship and its war with the Sierra, a whaling ship that killed more than 25,000 whales, is a fascinating one. I found myself rooting for the Sea Shepherd as we come to the end:
The Sierra had been towed to Lisbon for repairs, though the Portuguese authorities lied to the American consul and told him that the ship had left the country. Taking advantage of the Sierra’s immobility, a team of underwater demolition experts made preparations to finish the career of the whaler.
On February 6, 1980, after undergoing US$ one million in repairs, the Sierra was sunk at dockside by a single limpet mine that blew a small hole in the hull. The ship took on water and slowly sank until it struck the bottom. Nobody was injured.
The sordid career of the Sierra was finally brought to an end.
Later that year more limpet mines sank half of the Spanish whaling fleet. A reward offered by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for the sinking of whaling ships caused owners to mistrust their underpaid crews and shut down their own whaling operations. Sea Shepherd and her allies had achieved in one year what 10 years of rhetoric and national posturing had failed to do.
Paul Watson, the founder, has an interesting history, particularly with Greenpeace:
Paul Watson became active with Greenpeace in 1971 as a member of our second expedition against nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka, and went on to participate in actions against whaling and the killing of harp seals. He was an influential early member but not, as he sometimes claims, a founder. He was expelled from the leadership of Greenpeace in 1977 by a vote of 11 to one (only Watson himself voted against it).
Having now watched him on the Animal Plant biography about his organization ‘Whale Wars’, one thing becomes clear – the man is passionate about saving the whales. I hope he wins. The irony in his struggle with the Japanese and their illegal whaling, is that the modern Japanese don’t even appear to like whale meat. From the article ‘Controversial killing fleet tastes failure as Japanese lose their appetite for whale meat’:
Despite falling market prices, and regular government efforts to "educate" the population by way of academic lectures, food festivals, and compulsory school lunches, whale meat remains a dish that few modern Japanese have eaten more than twice. Not because it is scarce, they just don’t like it.
Daiki Fukuda is owner of a traditional izakaya restaurant called Paddock, in the northern coastal prefecture of Ishikawa. His reasons for not serving whale meat are purely culinary. "It doesn’t taste good," he says.
"I think it’s very strange to go hunting for whales near the South Pole when we have other meat and fish that are much more delicious. I tried whale meat once at school when I was a kid, and I hated it. We all did."
Japanese diet or a fleet of eco pirates, it would appear that either one could end the whaling trade.