Worse than the whalers

Just a few days before Christmas, Sea Shepherd activists threw over 25 bottles of acid formed from rotting butter to protest a Japanese whaling ship that claims it is performing research.

Just a few days before Christmas, Sea Shepherd activists threw over 25 bottles of acid formed from rotting butter to protest a Japanese whaling ship that claims it is performing research. But while there is suspicion about whether or not the Japanese are researching or hunting, the antics of the Sea Shepherd, a ship full of anti-whaling activists, are silly and completely ineffective.

Whaling for commercial purposes is illegal but whaling for research is not. The Japanese company that organizes Japan’s whale hunts, the Institute of Cetacean Research, has done what the International Whaling Commission requires to be allowed to hunt whales.

It has been reported that Japanese Officials plan on catching 935 Minke whales and 50 Fin whales each year. There are over 1,000,000 Minke whales worldwide, however Fin whales are estimated to number less than 100,000 and are considered an endangered species.

The ICR states one reason for the research as: “research on Southern Hemisphere Minke whales for the estimation of biological parameters necessary for population management and for elucidation of the Antarctic marine ecosystem under the special permit issued by the Government of Japan.”

Some organizations maintain that the ICR is merely a front for illegal whaling operations. The Sea Shepherd’s acid-bottle throwing is far from the first active protest against Japanese whalers. Last January a group organized by Green Peace tried to stop a whaling ship from refueling. The protestors ended up getting sprayed with fire hoses.

As a result of these protests, the Japanese Whaling Association has asked Australia and New Zealand to close ports to the ship that committed these “terrorist acts.”

If you are going to spend the type of money that is required to send a ship full of protestors armed with a buttery acid, you might as well use a more effective form of protest. This stupid display of dissent did little to hinder the Japanese from continuing their whaling operations.

In fact, it may have hindered the protestors because now the Japanese have a reason to go to Australia and New Zealand and request that the Sea Shepherd no longer be allowed to port there. If the Shepherd cannot refuel somewhere, then they will not be able to follow the Japanese whaling ships and document their activities.

I do not know whether or not the ICR is a front for illegal whaling operations, but I do know that if it is the truth they should not be allowed to persist in these operations. It would be a great service to humanity and to whales if the Sea Shepherd could prove that the ICR is indeed a farce, but in the meantime they seem to be doing a good job managing the number of whales caught and used for research.

The amount of whales the ICR is hunting appears pose little-to-no threat to the whales’ survival. And since the ICR is a nonprofit, the information gathered may be of future use to the protestors should any major whaling operations come into existence.

Also, I think Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson should be fired. Throwing something potentially harmful at the crewmembers was dumb and he should not have allowed that to happen while onboard. If you are going to risk losing your ability to actually help the situation by possibly getting banned from various ports, at least put the whaling ships out of commission too.

Or better yet, don’t take that risk. Simply follow them and watch them if you suspect them of doing something illegal. If they are, you will probably catch them and then they won’t be able to do it anymore.

But what the crewmembers aboard the Sea Shepherd did was an ill-conceived childish attempt at what? I can’t even tell what they were attempting to accomplish by that action. It’s things like that that give protestors a bad rap.