The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society yesterday formally requested assistance from Greenpeace in helping keep tabs on the Japanese whaling fleet.
“All that is needed to shut down the Japanese fleet by 100 percent, is a third large vessel to keep the third harpooner occupied, but Sea Shepherd does not have another large vessel,” the release states. “The Greenpeace Foundation, however, has two ships in Taiwan. One Greenpeace ship in the Southern Ocean could shut the door on the killing of whales completely, and all Greenpeace would have to do is just show up.”
To be sure, this is a familiar tune. Ever since Greenpeace stopped sending ships to monitor the activities of the Japanese in 2007, Sea Shepherd has used the inaction to criticize the org and their “soft approach” to ending whaling. In a December 2010 article titled “Where is Greenpeace“, Paul Watson writes,” I would willingly cooperate with them to defend the whales. But they refuse to cooperate with us. In fact they refuse to even get involved, well except for the fund raising part. They seem to be very good at raising money but not very good at spending it for the objectives they originally raised it for.”
For their part, Greenpeace has made clear that they will never associate themselves with Sea Shepherd. From a 2008 article on their site:
“We passionately want to stop whaling, and will do so peacefully. That’s why we won’t help Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace is committed to non-violence and we’ll never, ever, change that; not for anything. If we helped Sea Shepherd to find the whaling fleet we’d be responsible for anything they did having got that information, and history shows that they’ve used violence in the past, in the most dangerous seas on Earth.”
“In addition to being morally wrong, we believe the use of violence in protection of whales to be a tactical error. If there’s one way to harden Japanese public opinion and ensure whaling continues, it’s to use violent tactics against their fleet. It’s wrong because it puts human lives at risk, and it’s wrong because it makes the whalers stronger in Japan.”
As Enviroleaks points out, that last paragraph rings less true with the information obtained recently from Wikileaks:
“If Greenpeace are correct then Sea Shepherd’s activities would not register in Japanese diplomatic circles – if anything it would be Greenpeace which would be seen as a threat,” the site says. “However, what is made very clear in the following cable (final paragraph) is that it is SSCS, not Greenpeace, that are considered a major obstacle to Japanese commercial whaling efforts. It seems that for all Greenpeace’s rhetoric, Paul Watson’s tactics are having the desired effect.”
Boiled down, this latest request is yet another poke by Sea Shepherd at Greenpeace and their methods. We have about as much chance of seeing the Rainbow Warrior tracking a harpoon ship as we do commenters on both side hugging it out down below. No doubt, the many millions of viewers of “Whale Wars” will also hear first-hand the Sea Shepherd’s call for help from Greenpeace; and their admonishment when no one responds.
In some ways, it’s very much a PR pickle for Greenpeace and their anti-whaling campaign. With Animal Planet showcasing engaging activism that is certainly having a direct effect on whaling in the Southern Ocean, viewers may funnel more of their dollars away from orgs on shore and more towards those in the water, monitoring, and reporting back. Greenpeace certainly does not have have to mimic Sea Shepherd’s tactics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they change their minds about physically showing up to the party. How they choose to operate with Sea Shepherd is anyone’s guess, but arms-length cooperation may be something that’s not only possible, but expected.
Hug it out below.
Photo: The Gojira in pursuit of the Yushin Maru #2