The Chase Continues - Day Six
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin
February 23rd to February 29th
Leap year gave us an extra day this month, but despite that it looks like we have made it to the end of February without any whales killed for last six days.
We are chasing the Japanese in circles and there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what the Japanese whalers are doing. What we do know is that they are wasting fuel and not catching any whales.
We had two Humpback whales breach beside the ship today.
The weather is getting colder and we are getting many hours of darkness now. The Antarctic winter is creeping up on us. The seas are getting rougher and we are getting blizzards. The Japanese whalers are running out of time.
Back in Japan the whaling industry is getting desperate. Last month the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) dumped 10 tons of unsold whale meat in to a primary school lunch program according to a recent article in the Australian Daily Telegraph. The Japanese government is trying to get children to develop a taste for whale flesh and blubber despite the high mercury content in the whale meat.
As the Japanese whaling fleet tries to kill whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, they have admitted to the Japanese media that they have over 3000 tons of unsold whale meat from last year's whale hunt.
Says the article, "School kids urged to eat whale meat" dated February 28th:
A total of 200,000 free lunches of whale meat salad marinated in sesame sauce were served on January 21 and 22. Yokohama children have not eaten whale meat as part of school lunches in 26 years....
Manager of health education at the Yokohama City Education Committee, Ms
Atsukjo Ito, who coordinated the lunch program, said there were no plans for a second program.
(Observes Captain Watson: She did not say if this was because the children did not like it or not.)
...Leading Liberal Democratic Party Upper House member Yoshimasa Hayashi, who chairs Japan's International Whaling Commission committee, yesterday admitted there was a deliberate attempt to revive the domestic market for the meat. He said he saw no problem with feeding the meat to children as part of a public relations campaign. "We are trying very hard to regain a market for whale eating," Mr Hayashi said.
But, in a surprise concession, Mr Hayashi said Japan would seriously consider ending whaling operations in the high seas if they were allowed to extend its coastal whaling program. "There is a chance of an agreement. It will depend largely on US leadership to bridge the differences at the IWC," he said.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is concerned that the United States has struck a deal with Japan that would end whaling in the Southern Ocean but would legalize coastal whaling near Japan. Although we would welcome an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean we are opposed to killing whales anywhere by anyone for any reason.
However, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a protest organization and we will reluctantly support the rulings of the International Whaling Commission if they strike such a deal.
At least it will bring peace to the Southern Ocean and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary will in fact be a whale sanctuary. At present it is simply a joke to call this a whale sanctuary as Japan slaughters over a thousand whales a year within its boundaries.
I believe that Japan is now looking for an excuse to get out of the Southern Oceans. It is becoming a major international embarrassment for them and they are losing more money every year. During the 2005/2006 season we intervened and caused them to fall 85 whales short of their quota. During the 2006/2007 season they did not make half their quota because of Sea Shepherd's interference and a major accident and fire onboard the Nisshin Maru. Our goal this year is to prevent them from reaching half their goal. We know we have prevented them from taking a major part of their quota this season. I think we will have a major impact on the numbers this year.