by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals.
Photo: Australian Customs Service

whaling

While the Sea Shepherd are attempting to find the Japanese whaling fleet (and, in terms of the Ady Gil, actually get out of port), the Australian government is ramping up threats to take Japan to court over their so-called “scientific research”. Granted, we’ve heard this grumbling before. Since 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has repeatedly vowed to take action to end the hunt — but with very little to show.

“What we’ve done with the previous government of Japan and this current government is seek to resolve this matter diplomatically — diplomatically and finding a way through,” he told The Australian while preparing for a meeting with Japan’s PM Yukio Hatoyama in Tokyo. “But I have said very clearly, if we don’t find a way through there is one way to sort this out and that is through the appropriate international legal mechanisms.”

Though Rudd refused to comment on a timeline for his patience running out, Environment Minister Peter Garrett was a bit more forthcoming. On a radio program yesterday he said that if Japan made no undertaking by June to end the kill “legal option will be undertaken”.

“Our commitment is for the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean to cease,” he said. “We are opposed to it. We’ve remained opposed to it ever since we’ve come to government and that is our policy goal.”

We’ll see if Rudd and Co. remain true to that pledge. As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said in response to the latest threats. “I don’t think you should make threats that you don’t carry out. It just brings Australia into disrepute. It embarrasses us before a country which is otherwise a very, very important country and a very good friend to Australia.”

What do you think? Will Australia take that next step in June — or will this be more of the same empty promises we’ve heard before?

Photo: A slaughtered minke whale and its calf being hauled up the ramp of the Japanese ship, the Yushin Maru.

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 →
  • Michael Raymer

    If Australia wants to end whaling in a territory it controls, why do they not just send their navy down there to enforce the law? With the use of sonar and acoustic detection, it would be childs play to find the whaling ships, intercept them and demand that they leave the area.

    This announcement does make me happy though. All these people claiming that Sea Shepherd has no right to be conducting anti-whaling campaigns can now shut up.

    • http://www.ecorazzi.com Michael d'Estries

      I think they’re attempting to avoid saber rattling — and potentially embarrassing the Japanese with a military intervention.

      Rudd has insisted on diplomatic means to solve the crisis — but damn if they haven’t taken their sweet time in announcing this deadline. Perhaps they haven’t taken action b/c they feel it’s better for the Sea Shepherd to work in proxy for them? Interesting all around…

      • Hideyoshi Toyotomi

        Haha “they’re avoiding embarrassing the Japanese with a military intervention”? That’s some serious interpretive gymnastics there.

        Pray, Michael, can you think of any other reason why they might be avoiding a military confrontation with Japan? Hmm?

        I’ll give you a little hint…

        It starts with “O” and ends with “BLITERATION”.

      • Aussie Public Servant

        It’s pretty sad to see that in any online forums about this issue, Japan seems to have hired multiple PR consultants to shill. This last comment about “obliteration” is just one such example – the Japanese know that if the Australian Navy wanted to sink those ships, they could. The whaling ships are not accompanied by armed escorts for precisely the same reasons the Rudd Government doesn’t “send in the Navy” – they want to avoid an international incident. The Japanese Navy may be impressive, but they know well and good that all it takes is a single Collins Class Submarine to end their “research” effort, and it would take them days to respond, at best.

        This is a game of brinksmanship – where Japan is seeking to see how much longer they can push Australia with these illegal incursions, and Australia seeing how far they have to push their threats to make Japan stop violating International Law in its waters.

        So yeah, in the meantime – Go the Sea Shepherd crew. I have minimal respect for them, and their skipper, but I have maximum respect for their actions.

    • Ted

      Sending a warship down there would be a bad move. Although everyone knows that the Japanese ‘research’ is bogus, they have the IWC’s official permits to conduct ‘research’, which makes them research vessels. Safe passage of research vessels is guaranteed by the Antarctic Treaty (Article 2), and Australia signed the document. Send a warship down there to beat up on the Japanese, and Australia could be stripped of its access to Antarctica for violating the Antarctic Treaty. Sending a navy warship to harass or attack a civilian vessel can also be viewed as an act of war.

      This is really the IWC’s fault – As long as the IWC hands out permits, Japan is protected by the international treaty, which supersedes Australian local law.

      It amazes me that people try to stop whaling permanently through the IWC, but forget what the IWC really is. It is the International *WHALING* Commission, not the International *ANTI-WHALING* Commission. They are not there to stop whaling; they are there to ensure whaling continues ‘sustainably’, meaning permanently. But, people still seem to think that the IWC is the key to end whaling.

      Go figure….

  • gen

    I like what you said Michael.
    And Japan, seriously I hate you right now :(

  • paul

    It’s a question of selfish pride Japan, Norway and Iceland simply feel they have the right to kill these endangered mammals who already face the perils of ship collisions, polluted seas and climate change

    • wally

      Wow – what the hell, they are down there doing just that. Illegally whaling in a sanctuary, refuelling and dumping offal etc into the ocean.

      There are just so many reasons for Japan to NOT be there. Plus, the international harm they are doing to their image??

      Turn up the water pressure captain – illegal scum whalers ahead!

  • persecutor

    The clear cut facts:

    - Japanese whalers are defying a global moratorium on whaling
    - They are commericially whaling under the guise of science
    - They are in the Australian Antarctic Territory without permission
    - They are illegally taking whales from a declared whale sanctuary
    - They are in the Antarctic zone operating illegally because they are carrying weapons and are refuelling & dumping waste into the ocean
    - They are in contempt of an Austrlian High court injunction on whaling in the Whale sanctuary
    - The killing methods are slow, brutal and highly cruel
    - They are taking threatended and endangered whales. Minke numbers are an estimate – no one really knows how many of them there are.

    Therefore, Japan is in the wrong on so many levels. But yet they continue to pour money into a dying industry to save face and “not be told what to do by the west”.

  • Hideyoshi Toyotomi

    What a farce. Can Kevin Rudd be so foolish? Surely this rhetoric is merely targeted towards his emotionally-immature domestic audience.

    After all, if he tries to enforce an EEZ off Australia’s Antarctic Territory (which enjoys the official recognition of seven countries world wide), the entire claim is likely to be stripped in an international court under the Antarctic Treaty.

    Which isn’t so bad, I suppose. At least it would silence the whinging masses in Australia… a little.

    Bring it on, Kevin. It’s your funeral.

    • willy

      The clear cut facts:

      - Japanese whalers are defying a global moratorium on whaling
      - They are commericially whaling under the guise of science
      - They are in the Australian Antarctic Territory without permission
      - They are illegally taking whales from a declared whale sanctuary
      - They are in the Antarctic zone operating illegally because they are carrying weapons and are refuelling & dumping waste into the ocean
      - They are in contempt of an Austrlian High court injunction on whaling in the Whale sanctuary
      - The killing methods are slow, brutal and highly cruel
      - They are taking threatended and endangered whales. Minke numbers are an estimate – no one really knows how many of them there are.

    • Aussie Public Servant

      Again, Hideyoshi – what PR firm do you work for? What branch of the Japanese Government do you work for? I see dozens of shills like you in forums like this, using personal and racially denigrating terms to describe the Australian people (“his emotionally-immature domestic audience”), as if it somehow justifies the hypocrisy of the Japanese state in supporting what is CLEARLY a COMMERCIAL whaling program, done under the guise of “scientific research”.

      Hideyoshi – would you be comfortable with Australian raiding parties coming into Japanese territorial waters, to hunt for something you considered sacred and part of your natural heritage?
      Do you think the Japanese Navy would enforce its sovereignty in this case? I demand an honest answer from you. If you can’t, I will just assume, as everyone else here is, that you have no honor, and you are paid for your “opinions”.

    • dan

      the fact is, the whalers are spoiling an australian economic resource, many tourism operators rely on the yearly migration of whales into warmer australian waters for viewing by people who come from around the world. therefore australia does have an economic claim to these animals.

      aside from this, it is ridiculous that the japanese would put their international image/prestige at risk so that a tiny minority of japanese and tourists could have a taste of a foul tasting and slightly toxic meat. cows are stupid, and tasty. just eat a burger you know….

  • http://www.asianracing.nu/vb/forum.php? IMFORTHEWHALES

    If there is a court case, will the japanese even bother showing up?

    At least the government and sea Sheperd supporters are on the same sort of book on this if not on the same page or paragraph exactly.

    Shame japan shame.

  • Hideyoshi Toyotomi

    IMFORTHEWHALES, I’d say Japan is highly likely to show up. The funny thing about all of this is that Japan has repeatedly asked Australia to have the matter heard in an international court. So it’s rather quaint that Australia now “threatens” Japan with international legal action… Anyway.

    Australia has thus far refused to go to court as it knows Japan’s actions are legal and that Australia stands to lose its claim to Antarctic territory.

    I’ll be very surprised if Australia goes through with it, to be honest. For them it is legal suicide.

    But I wonder how Sea Shepherd will spin the facts when the ruling comes down? They are master propaganda artists so I’m sure they will rise to the occasion. Afterall, they’re not ones to let fact or reason get in the way of media attention and donations.

    • Aussie Public Servant

      Surely only a member of the Japanese public service, or a PR employee could be so cocky, no? Neat name you’ve chosen for yourself by the way – naming yourself after a famous Daimyo? Very clever.

  • Josh

    Lets just sink the whaling fleet and be done with it.

  • Katherine Lopez

    When Australia finally takes actions, the other nations will follow suit. Those people opposed will back Australia. Im certain animal advocates will. Next up: the harp seals.

  • Josh

    Funny thing is, they are feeding the meat to their dogs. yeah – dog food.

    I’m sure thats in the history books. Whaling is a Japanese tradition, it’s in our heritage! YEAH right scum bags. It’s in our culture to hunt whales for dog food. A cherished tradition. So lets send our navy down there to protect this ‘dog food cannery’

    You only started whaling after WW2 when u were all but wiped out and were starving. Environmental japo-terrorist scum

  • timmy

    Japan will win a court case by simply pointing to the Article VIII of the ICRW, and produce the well-produced list of research papers that it has had published in peer reviewed journals over the years, and the subsequent court victory will enshrine the legality of research whaling for everyone to see. Even the Sea Shepherd clowns won’t be able to deny it.

    But what all this shows is that Australia has not been participating in the IWC talks in good faith. Japan has been offering concessions with respect to it’s research whaling programs (although it has no legal obligation to do so), whereas Australia hasn’t offered Japan anything in return. It’s just “take-take-take” and no give, and now that Australia can’t get everything it wants – “OK its court time”.

    Australia is really disgracing itself over this issue.

    • wally

      Funny how Japan signed the Antarctic agreement which outlines that no commerical activites can be conducted on or around the continent. No waste jumping, no refuelling etc.

      Wow – what the hell, they are down there doing just that. Illegally whaling in a sanctuary, refuelling and dumping offal etc into the ocean.

      There are just so many reasons for Japan to NOT be there. Plus, the international harm they are doing to their image??

      Turn up the water pressure captain – illegal scum whalers ahead!

      Remember when the Australian customs and fisheries vessel went down there to ‘monitor’ the whale slaughter? Remember how they discovered Japan was taking pregant whales, baby whales (calves) etc etc?

      Their response was to get good data a range of ages and sexes was needed in their study.

      Just like the banners they hold up “We’re examining the stomach contents”, “We’re doing research”

      What about the study that found they hasd been harpooning Blue, Sperm and Humpback whales…

      Brutal lying savages. Boycott Japan

  • wegner

    The whaling fleet will leave antarctic waters in less than 6 months time for the final time. This is because new regulations will prevent their unprotected vessels from dumping offal into the pristine antarctic waters as they do now. Rudd knows this so it’s a safe gamble that in 6 months the whalers will say we’re not going back. If Rudd wanted to save whales he’d instigate legal action now. The international courts could then put a cease and desist notice out to the whaling fleet and so prevent them from whaling until the distpute is settled. Rudd won’t do this as it will cost the whalers too much money.

  • Nice one

    “that last season the Japanese fleet captured over 300 female whales, 63 percent of which were pregnant. “

  • Paul

    That is not a ramp! that is a slip way
    and it is not the Yushin Maru harpoon vessel it is the Nisshin Maru Factory Ship!

  • Adri

    I think the reason the Japanese are defending their whaling is because some of them feel emasculated by losing WWII so decisively and infantalized for letting the US rebuild their economy for them in the aftermath. That’s also why grown men read porn featuring cartoon teenagers; they’re impotent in a way and can’t deal with real women. Their nationalism is just a lame attempt to reclaim their manhood.

    Luckily there are many Japanese people, especially young people, who are living in the present and don’t feel the need to kill whales to prove themselves. I hope all these decent Japanese people triumph and whaling disappears.

    • Aussie Public Servant

      I think you’re right. The honest truth is that something in the order of 75% of Japanese have never eaten whale, and don’t really care either.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=9FD18926170ED901&search_query=earthlings Whoever…

    The bottom line here is speciesism…!

    Regarding scientific research, this says it all:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227136.100-why-japans-whaling-activities-are-not-research.html

    With that out of the way, I would like to add that all the japanese people who think like Hideyoshi Toyotomi (if he is truly japanese), besides being liars are also ignorant.

    Apparently (I’ve read about it but this is not something one can easily prove) the japanese whaling activities have behind them the japanese mafia and that’s one of the main reasons why they have perdured for so long.

    The image of japan has been so damaged by this that they’re losing so much more money than if they stopped whaling once and for all. I for one am not going to buy any japanese products until they do just that.

    Oh, and japan is not the only country with whaling activities – let’s not forget Norway, for instance, and all the likes of them!

    Now, one could argue that whaling is not much different from factory farming (apart from the fact that whales are endangered species) and that’s actually true.
    So, if someone is against whaling or sealing, they should also be against all types of animal exploitation (including animal testing, factory farming, entertainment, etc.)…
    Go to earthlings dot com (or click on my nickname) and you can see for yourselves what I mean.

    Until humans stop being arrogant fools and start seeing themselves as just another species on the planet, we will never live in harmony with each other and with Nature… and that’s the real issue here (in my point of view)!

    Therefore, go Sea Shepherd! Put that human scum out of business once and for all!

  • help

    Japs are brutal butchers illegally whaling in a sanctuary. That is up there with poaching. It’s high crime on the high seas what they are doing

  • The Hague

    Dreadful behaviour of Japan:

    Last evening the Steve Irwin helicopter flew back to film the Shonan Maru No. 2.

    In response, the crew of the Japanese ship activated their Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) at the Sea Shepherd helicopter. LRAD is a military class weapon.

    “This was an extremely irresponsible thing to do,” said helicopter pilot Chris Aultman.

    “That device can cause nausea and disorientation and the use of it against an aircraft is both extremely dangerous and grossly irresponsible.”

    Japanse mafia must be involved.

    • Aussie Public Servant

      To be perfectly fair (and I support the Sea Shepherd’s activities), the SS crew have been caught using green lasers against the Japanese crew too. I think Sea Shephered decided to play dirty, and the Japanese are just giving back as good as they get.

      If an Australian Naval Submarine turned up, on the other hand, I don’t think the Japanese Whaling Vessel’s testicles would be quite so large.

  • Pingback: Australia To Japan: End Whaling By June Or We’ll See You In Court | Ezquara

  • Rob

    It seems like a stupid game of legalities while the whalers make millions of dollars with blood money back at home. Someone is accountable for ramming a 2 million dollar vessel, will justice happen? Seems quite unlikely and it is probably about time for people that genuinely care about their natural heritage to take actions into their own hands by responding with equal force.

    The damage being caused is beyond any monetary value.

  • Enola Gay

    What is really absurd about these ridiculous claims by the Japanese is that on January 5th, the Japanese tanker Hiyo Maru refueled the whaling mother ship Nisshin Maru south of sixty degrees latitude in violation of the Antarctic Treaty that prohibits refueling in the Antarctic Treaty Zone. The refueling took place off Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay only 15 miles from a large Adelie penguin colony.