In Pursuit of Lives Not Lost
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
This is 42nd Day since Operation Waltzing Matilda was launched on December 7th, 2009. That was the day the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed from Fremantle in Western Australia.
Since that day the Steve Irwin has logged over 10,000 miles, 4,500 of those miles since last refueling in Hobart, Tasmania on December 31st.
The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker departed from Mauritius off the coast of Africa on December 18th and has been at sea for 32 days.
The Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil’s short lived voyage began on December 19 out of Hobart. Seventeen days later, the Ady Gil was on the bottom under 3,000 meters of water after the Japanese security ship guarding the Japanese whaling fleet deliberately rammed and destroyed the Ady Gil, cutting our interceptor vessel clean in half on January 6.
It has been a tense and dramatic campaign with numerous clashes between the Sea Shepherd crew and the crews on the whaling ships.
But strangely, the most effective days for the Sea Shepherd crew are not the days of direct engagement with the vessels of the whaling fleet.
The most successful days are the days we do nothing at all. The days we run full out, covering miles and miles of ocean in pursuit of the whaling fleet.
Sea Shepherd’s objective is to impact the kill quotas of the Japanese fleet, to make sure they do not slaughter the numbers they intend to kill.
For four years we have directly cut their quotas. 83 whales shut down the first year, 500 saved during Operation Leviathan, close to another 500 during operation Migaloo, and some 305 for Operation Musashi.
The Japanese whalers response to the arrival of a Sea Shepherd ship is to run full out for thousands of miles if need be to force Sea Shepherd to burn fuel. And while they are running, they can’t kill whales and that’s fine with us.
It is during these days of pursuit that we save whales and every day that the fleet can be kept running, the lives of a dozen whales are spared.
Since the day the Ady Gil sank south of Hobart, the Japanese whaling fleet has been running full out to the West. We have already chased them over 3,000 miles along the Coast of Antarctica to the area South of Africa.
The pursuit started off George V Land west pass Terre Adelie, Wilkes Land, Queen Mary Land, Wilhelm II Land, Princess Elizabeth Land, and Mac Roberstson Land.
It has been twelve days of threading our way through treacherous iceberg dotted coastline, skirting pack ice, dodging growlers and contending with huge swells, dense fog, high winds, rain, sleet, snow in flurries and in blizzards and hail.
It is beautiful. The coast of Antarctica is one of the most mysterious and beautiful places on the planet with icebergs boasting every shade of blue imaginable framed by the white brilliance of packed snow. There are seals, penguins, birds galore, and there are whales, those majestic minds in the water that are the root cause for the troubles down in these remote and hostile waters.
We are here because the whales are here and the Japanese don’t want them here. They prefer them on a platter in a Tokyo sushi bar.
This year however things are a little different. Whereas in years previous we had to cut off the pursuit due to lack of fuel, we now have two ships and one can continue the pursuit as the other returns to a port for fuel and supplies. This means that for the first time in our campaigns we can have a virtually unbroken pursuit and an unbroken pursuit will translate into whale lives saved and reduced revenues for the whalers.
Every day the whalers are on the run is a good day for the whales and they have been on the run now for two weeks, and we intend to keep them on the run until the end of the whaling season in March.
Sometimes success can be achieved by just being there, and we are hard on the heels of this floating slaughterhouse and her posse of hunter killer harpoon boats.
There will be further clashes and more than likely there will be more collisions but when all is said and done, the best results come from doing nothing. It is in the hot pursuit that lives are saved.