by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: .

paul watson, sea shepherd

The whaling season hasn’t even started yet, and already the heat is rising down under.

The drama began late last week when Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd, had his visa application for Australia held up. In previous years, the anti-whaling activist was freely admitted to the country — but now Australia is saying he must satisfy exhaustive new good-character requirements to get a business visa. This, despite the fact that Watson has never received a felony conviction and is not wanted on any warrants.

Obviously, the whole thing reeks of political red tape — the kind that Japan has recently been pressuring Australia to dole out against the Sea Shepherd and her crew. Captain Watson isn’t taking the matter lightly and posted a critique of the Australian government and their handling of the situation on the organization’s website. His words are below:

“Way back in October 2007, I had urged thousands of Australians to vote for Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett’s Labor Party. Why? Because they promised to get tough on illegal Japanese whaling. They promised to take Japan to court. They promised to send a ship down to the Southern Ocean to monitor the illegal activities. They had severely criticized the former Howard government for not doing enough.”

“Since then Rudd and Garrett have demonstrated that they have done far less for the whales than former Environment Minister Ian Campbell had done.”

“Under Campbell, Australia was the toughest voice at the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission. Under Garrett, the whales have become a very minor concern. Under Campbell, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was given encouragement and support. Under Garrett, we have been disparaged, and now we are being harassed as the Rudd government seeks to sabotage Sea Shepherd efforts to defend the whales.”

“Peter Garrett does not want our ship the Steve Irwin to return to the Southern Ocean in December. Why? Because the government of Japan has requested that the Australian government intervene to prevent us from returning to the Southern Oceans.”

“Legally, they can’t stop the Steve Irwin from departing for the Antarctic coast but it appears they believe they have found a way to sabotage our mission.”

“And thus I, and my 1st officer, Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, have had our visas to enter Australia cancelled and our new applications denied. My Bosun, Dan Bebawi of the U.K. was ordered off his plane at London Heathrow and was told that his visa was no longer valid. After a week and an expensive re-issue of his ticket, he was given a limited visa.”

“The story is not so simple for Peter Hammarstedt and I.”

“The Immigration department is now demanding that Peter and I provide police reports from Norway, Canada, and the United States in order to proceed further on the visa application. Once these reports are received, we will be informed of additional requirements.”

“In other words, they will make us jump through bureaucratic hoops for months if need be to prevent us from re-joining our ship in Australia.”

“I do not have a single felony conviction on my record from any nation in the world. There is not a single warrant out for my arrest. Japan has not pressed charges. Our flag nation of the Netherlands has not charged us with anything. I have entered and reentered Australia dozens of times without incident, but now only a few weeks after Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was given an ultimatum by Japan to stop Sea Shepherd, Peter Hammarstedt and I have found that our return to our own ship has been blocked without any reason given.”

“This year our campaign has been named Operation Waltzing Matilda in recognition of the fact that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has received overwhelming support from the people of Australia.”

“Australia has been our base for operations against Japan’s illegal whaling operations since 2005 and Australians have demonstrated that Australia is the most passionate nation on Earth when it comes to defending the great whales from the illegal and viciously cruel whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet.”

“Unfortunately, this support from the people for the whales is not reflected in the actions of the government of Australia.”

“The Rudd government has turned its back on all the “get tough on whaling promises” they made before the election and has now become more submissively loyal to the demands of the Japanese government than to the concerns of the Australian people that elected them.”

“The Steve Irwin left Brisbane this month on a tour of Australia to raise support for Operation Waltzing Matilda. Under the command of Dutch captain Alex Cornelissen, the ship is presently berthed at Circular Quay in Sydney across from the Sydney Opera House.”

“The Steve Irwin is scheduled to visit Melbourne and Hobart before reaching Fremantle, the port where the ship will depart in December for the coast if Antarctica.”

“Unfortunately, I cannot be onboard my own ship during this tour until a visa is granted, something that was simply routinely granted prior to last month. I am now being informed by the Australian Visa office that this “harassment” is routine. They need to establish that I am of “good character” prior to issuing a visa.”

“Of course, the Australian Federal Police could and most likely already have obtained all the records on me that they require. Despite this, I need to spend hundreds of dollars and weeks of time tracking down the police reports on my “character.””

“Strangely enough, I have found that it is easier to get a police report if you have an actual criminal record than if you have no record at all. Since I have never been convicted of any crime in the United States, I have been told that I need an F.B.I. report saying that I have never been convicted of any crime in the United States. This requires being fingerprinted and filling out a lengthy report requesting a document stating that no police criminal record exists. If this is considered “routine” then no one would be visiting Australia at all.”

“Japan is mobilizing every bureaucratic measure they can to prevent us from engaging their whale poaching fleet this year. They are leaning on the Dutch government to strike our flag. They are leaning on the Australian government to intervene. They have made requests of the United States and Canada to prevent Sea Shepherd and I from continuing our efforts to defend the whales.”

“Despite this, we are on target for departure for early December and I will be there, visa or no visa. Peter Hammarstedt will also be there. No power short of a bullet will prevent us from returning to the Southern Ocean in December to once again cut the illegal Japanese quota in half and to negate their illicit profits.”

“Operation Waltzing Matilda is on target and with the Steve Irwin joined this year by the Earthrace, we will mount the most ambitious and most aggressive effort to date to obstruct the slaughter of the whales in the Southern Ocean.”

“The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is organizing a petition drive of Australians to support the character requirements for Peter Hammarstedt and myself.”

“We have less than two months to secure the visas to allow us to take command of the only ship in the world that can save the lives of hundreds of defenseless and endangered whales in the Southern Ocean.”

“I am confident that the Australian people will send their voice to Canberra to support us and the whales. Rudd and Garrett need to be reminded that it was not the Japanese whalers who voted them into power, it was Australian citizens, and Australians want the bloody slaughter in the Southern Ocean ended.”

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Whoever…

    “only a few weeks after Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was given an ultimatum by Japan to stop Sea Shepherd, Peter Hammarstedt and I have found that our return to our own ship has been blocked without any reason given”


    What, now japan rules the world or something?

    This is the dark side of our so called democracies, people!
    ‘All’ politicians, one way or another, are under the command of the Illuminati.
    Wake up!

    Politicians are nothing but ‘hookers’ who will even sell their mothers in exchange for power… they don’t give a damn about right or wrong! And then they expect us to do exactly the opposite!!!

    People who are fighting for a better world (whether you like their methods or not) are persecuted and criticized, but all of those who are controlling us and destroying our planet are regarded as the ‘good guys’. How sickening is that?

    What does it take for people to wake up?
    Bunch of zombies… Things like this honestly make me want the Illuminati to get their way and eliminate part of the human population.

    “Despite this, we are on target for departure for early December and I will be there, visa or no visa. Peter Hammarstedt will also be there. No power short of a bullet will prevent us from returning to the Southern Ocean in December to once again cut the illegal Japanese quota in half and to negate their illicit profits.”

    You go Sea Shepherd! Hell with the ‘laws’ that were only created to protect the Illuminati and their slaves!

  • Mike

    Imagine if you happened to stumble across the following scene whilst out for a stroll in the country. What would you feel? What would you do?

    In a field you see a group of horses, they are happily grazing. They notice you, but are not concerned. From the distance appears a vehicle. It’s a 4X4 pick up and you discern a figure stood in the back standing behind a strange contraption, mounted onto the bed of the pick up.

    The pick up bears down on the horses, which begin to panic. The man standing behind the strange contraption is clearly manoeuvring it, as if trying to take aim at a horse! The driver revs hard, and the horses are fleeing for all they are worth, clearly panicked.

    Fire! It’s a small harpoon! The harpoon flies, the arrow-straight line of the cable following. Miss, it hits the grass. Fleeing horses. You focus on a large horse at the rear of the pack, its youngster just ahead. The man on the pick up focuses on her too. Fire. Miss again. And another. The fourth shot hits her in the flank. Explosion and fountain of blood. Horse thrashing on the ground in unthinkable agony. Cable winch engaged, horse thrashing and screaming while reeled in, gushing blood and turning the grass red. Hauled to the side of the pick up, still convulsing, haemorrhaging everywhere. Another spear, probe on a long pole with cable attached is thrust into her side. Horse writhing. Big generator on truck blaring. Electrocution current now coursing through the spear. Horse in bloody agony not even close to dead. Finally hauled up tail suspended so they can hold her nose and mouth under water in mounted tank on truck. She drowns after fifteen more minutes in a mixture of water and her own blood.

    Transfer slain horse to a waiting lorry. Two horses winched aboard by the back legs. On the back of the truck a banner saying ‘RSPCA are a sham’. A hard hatted crew step forward and with long flensing knives slice the first horse open. Foot long foetus removed. Still alive. Tiny scale model of adult horse. The pregnant mother was not as fast as the others. Foetus carried to a bench with scale, measured and weighed by scientist. Guts spilled on to floor by the long hooks and knives.

    If you witnessed the above scene you would be appalled. You would phone the police. The police would arrest the perpetrators of this barbarity. They would be tried in the courts and most likely receive a lengthy prison sentence. The public would be outraged.

    Now, replace ‘grass’ with ‘sea’, replace ‘horse’ for ‘whale’, replace ‘pick up’ for ‘whaling vessel’ and replace ‘man’ with ‘thug’. There is no more barbaric method of slaughter on Earth, in any meat industry than that described above. This prolonged butchery and torture is reserved for the most intelligent, most social order of beings, the great whales.

    The above ‘horse scene’ is fiction, but for the whales it is not. The description above was documented by a filmmaker paid by the Japanese to film whaling. He was so sickened by what he witnessed that he released the footage. The fact that the Japanese thought that filming all this would be good PR seemed to point to an almost insane departure from reality.

    Even if many whales were not critically endangered, whaling should cease on the grounds of cruelty alone. Anyone who can condone this torture should seriously examine their own mental state.

    This year again, Japan is determined to torture to death 1000 whales (including some on the CITES endangered species list) in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.

    Only Sea Shepherd is doing anything to uphold international conservation law. Please support them at

  • Davy

    Perhaps Mr.Watson should switch to harassing the whalers of Norway or Iceland or the Faroe Islands or indeed, even the US. Perhaps though, the populations of these lands are too white and harder to demonize.

    Of course, they could also turn their efforts toward protecting species that are on the very brink of extinction like the bluefin tuna. Hey, they can still use the “evil Japanese” foil in that case. Of course, tuna aren’t mammals like whales and may not get the crew the ratings they need to fill their egos and budgets but with a little inventiveness, hey, who knows?

    • herwin

      dear Davy, your observation that whales are mammals is correct, bravo, you would be surprised that still much people (especially children and people living in remote areas of this planet think that whales are fish.) but i cant follow you when you say that mr Watson should start to harrass the whalers of Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. because , mr Watson already did harrass them full scale and has sunk whaling ships of these countries and did visit and document the annual slaughter of the dolphins (whales?) of the Faroe Islands. And FYI usa dont kill whales or dolphins on a massive and murderous scale like unfortunately is happening in japan.
      All in all, you use too much the word “perhaps” in your arguments.

  • Helmut Treib

    Grant Paul Watson and Peter Hammarstedt visas into Australia to continue to fight against whaling

    Sign petition:

  • alex

    the australian people never supported him.
    he’s a complete bloody tool and making australia look like a racist nation by the way he is always saying that australia supports him slamming the japanese.

    • Whoever…

      Well, if the Australian people never supported him (which I highly doubt it’s true) then they’re idiots!

      It’s the position of their idiotic government that is making them look like coward fools.

      I’ve always had the highest respect for Australians but if they actually support their government on this, I will definitely change my opinion of them.

      • alex

        so you are saying that you will be anti-australian, if australians aren’t anti-japanese?
        no-one will end up listening to you or your opinions when you have views like that.

    • Whoever…

      Where on earth did I write that I would become anti-Australian? And where did I write that Australians should be anti-Japanese?

      How old are you?

      Do you even understand what you read!? I hate (literally) people who take everything literally when it’s convenient for them while trying to make a point!!

      If I stooped to your level, then I would take your words regarding the statement you made claiming that “the Australian people never supported him” literally, and ask you: does that mean all Australians are against him?
      If that’s the case, then yes I will lose my respect for the Australian people in general, not for all the Australians…

      Oh, and let me tell you that if you’re an Australian, then you’re representing your people very poorly…

      Grow up!!!

  • Sandi Logan

    Dept Immigration and Citizenship media release
    Canberra, Australia

    16 October 2009

    Paul Watson visa application

    The Department of Immigration and Citizenship today rejected claims it was delaying processing of a visa application for Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson.

    Mr Watson has applied for a visa to visit Australia to undertake a range of public speaking and media activities associated with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    “Our standard procedure is to follow-up certain matters disclosed to the department in a visa application, and that’s what is occurring,” a spokesman said.

    “Though Mr Watson may have previously visited Australia as a tourist, the visa required for that type of visit is quite different to that for a short-term business visit, which is what is required for his forthcoming trip.

    “This is a matter being handled by the department in a manner no different to the standard procedures in place for the processing of millions of visa applications each year.

    “We expect to be making a decision on Mr Watson’s visa application in the coming days,” the spokesman added.

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