On last night’s show, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” aired a segment on the recovery of humpback whales populations after years of conservation work and the outlawing of commercial whaling.
The segment also featured discussion and footage of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s hotly-debated anti-whaling campaigns in the Southern Ocean. While Sea Shepherd’s crew returns to oppose the hunt each year, Japan continues to hunt and kill whales in Antarctica despite the ban on commercial whaling. Japan maintains that their whaling operation is conducted for research, and therefore allowed by the International Whaling Commission. “60 Minutes” reports, “This battle is fought in the last place where humpback whales are considered “‘endangered.’”
The show featured an interview with Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson, who made a rare appearance from his current home: the ocean. Since a Red Notice issued by Interpol at the requests of Japan and Costa Rica, Watson has remained in international waters. While a Red Notice is not necessarily an arrest warrant, it is a request to all Interpol member nations to identify the subject of the Red Notice and determine if they should be arrested and extradited. If you’re wondering how he’s doing out there at sea, Watson said, “Well it’s a pretty nice prison. It’s you know– I don’t mind being on the ocean. It’s a beautiful place and certainly the citizens out here tend to be more peaceful.”
Watson told the show, “The simple fact is this, if the oceans die, we die. Sea Shepherd was set up to uphold those international laws and regulations protecting our oceans.” Called a “vigilante” and asked why he would not let governments uphold the laws, Watson responded, “Because I want to survive. And I want to make sure that my children survive. And I’m not going to sit back and watch the oceans be destroyed because governments don’t have the political or economic will to uphold these laws…There is no scientific basis for what they’re doing. We have seen them take a whale onto the factory vessel. There’s no scientist there. There’s nobody measuring anything. They simply cut them up, send them down below, and package them. This is not science. It’s bogus.”
Sea Shepherd says that they are not a vigilante organization, but interventionists who take non-violent action under the United Nations World Charter for Nature, which they say allows this action by non-govermental organizations in defense of nature. The organization maintains, “Sea Shepherd is a tireless advocate for the enforcement of international treaties, laws, and regulations protecting marine species and their environment, and does not hesitate to act to enforce these legal charters as circumstances require…Sea Shepherd operations have been successful around the globe intercepting poachers in the Galapagos Islands, shutting down illegal whaling operations in numerous oceans, blockading sealing ships, rescuing dolphins in Japan, patrolling beaches in the Caribbean to stop turtle poaching, and confiscating illegal driftnets and longlines all over the world.”
Along with a focus on Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling efforts, the “60 Minutes” also highlighted non-lethal humpback research by marine biologist Nan Hauser who has studied the whales in their feeding grounds at Rarotonga for 16 years.
Sea Shepherd will also be present at the United Nations World Energy Day tomorrow. Sea Shepherd USA’s Susan Hartland and Sea Shepherd Global’s Captain Alex Cornelissen will be speaking about how the organization is working with governments and law enforcement to fight poaching and other illegal exploitation of ocean life and habitats.
Check out the segment below: