Reader's Poll: What do you think about Sea Shepherd?

You'd have to be mentally deficient to believe Japan's claims that their hunting of 900 whales is being done for "research" purposes. But how far should people go to stop the slaughter? The Australian government has condemned the killing. People have waged protests. But it seems nothing can stop those wacky Japanese from persisting with the hunt.

Enter Sea Shepherd, an organization dedicated to protecting our large baleened friends from commercial and "scientific" whaling at all costs. Run by the infamous Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd has resorted to some hard line tactics such as blockading ports, encircling and even ramming whaling vessels, and launching all out PR wars against all who threaten marine life.

i-c12b20834144cb62e754f5eb19c4cbff-Watson.jpg
Watson might want to lay off the krill himself....

Of course, Sea Shepherd is embraced by celebrities and many environmental groups, but it does have its critics. Some think that the hard-handed measures of Watson and his crew aboard the Steve Irwin, his newly named ship, do more harm than good for the whales' cause. Watson often has conducted his operations with blind abandon to the lives of his crew or the crews of the whaling vessels, and has allegedly violated a host of international laws in the process.

Still, Sea Shepherd continues its mission. In fact, two of its activists are being held hostage on a Japanese whaling ship as we speak after boarding the ship to deliver a "plea" to the captain to call off the hunt.

What do you think about Sea Shepherd? How about the hostage situation?

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Given Sea Shepherd's past behaviour in the Atlantic near Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands I'd say they probably have good reasons for arresting the "activists" until they either behave or the whaling ship reaches harbour where they can be prosecuted.

Should the whaling ship sink before such time, I'd say good riddance to Japanese whalers, too.

(We've previously had to use the navy to protect the lives of fishermen against those fuckers. Why isn't supporting them considered equivalent to supporting terrorism when saving Palestianian children from starvation sometimes is?)

By Peter Lund (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

They've been released.

Regarding the actions of Sea Shepherd, I can't oppose them. Whaling is horrible. There's certainly something to be said (however soberly) for militants who defend wildlife and natural ecosystems from destruction.

Although I cannot comfortably condone their style, Sea Shepherds, Watson & Co. certainly keep the whales' plight before the public eye. Without their efforts I fear the issue would fade from public attention.

By Alan Bleiman (not verified) on 17 Jan 2008 #permalink

The 'hostages' have now been returned to the Steve Irwin, via an Australian govt vessel.

Whilst I couldn't do what they are doing (they are pushing too many laws), I won't condemn them for doing it. I'm glad that there are 'ratbags' out there who are prepared to put themselves on the line for what they believe. They are the ones who make the rest of us question our position, and it is the extremist (in all things) that promotes change.

Good luck to them.

Who has never had the urge to smack somebody doing something you thought was wrong? But what if the smacking was somebody smacking your face? How would that seem?

Militant attacks on legal activities are just that, militant attacks. They should be punished according to their severity. The end does not justify the means, that kind of f*cked up thinking gives us Americans torturing (waterboarding) prisoners, something I never thought I'd see (OK never thought I'd see endorsed at the highest levels of govt.)

I agree with Farne's comment, I'm glad there are 'ratbags' out there looking after the rights of poor speechless whales. I would defy anyone who has been to Antarctica and seen them 'up close and personal' not to be totally moved by the majestic creatures. We have enough fantastic food in the world we should be grateful for, where is the need to include whale meat because it is considered a delicacy. It's just wrong Japan. Get with the program! Go Sea Shepherd!

The open seas are essentially lawless and fishing vessels deplete them with no good checks. Under such circumstances I accept that organisations like Sea Shepherd go militant too.

Protecting whales is a slippery slope towards torture? WTF? These 'research' whale kills are not needeed for research, nor is whale meat/blubber such a delicacy in Japan anymore. These whale hunts would be a blurb on page 27 if it weren't for the nutjobs of Sea Shepherd. It seems a lawful means of stopping the hunts isn't happening, so...

Watson might want to lay off the krill himself...

Take a look at the size of his hands. Somehow I don't see you sayin' that to his face! ;~)

"What do you think about Sea Shepherd?" I think it's a damn shame they don't have a couple dozen Exocet missiles.

By Grant Canyon (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

The Sea Sheperd are doing something that is entirely and absolutely wrong according to the law. So if they're arrested, I really have no protests to lodge. Break the law, get arrested. That's the risk you accept when you go and do it.

All laws aside, though.... on the personal level, I applaud them for what they do. It takes some serious guts to do what they do and face the consequences. And although I know whaling is probably someone's living, and I know that if we stop it entirely, a lot of people are going to be out of a job... I just can't seem to care. Preventing the extermination of an entire species outweighs those human consequences, I think. Also, why, exactly, human life should be more "valuable" than animal life, I fail to see. Every life is priceless if you ask me.

The point was made above about wanting to smack someone who's doing wrong. I submit that what the Sea Shepherd/Steve Irwin is doing is considered a legal wrong but a moral right, which is why it seems to be sticking in so many of these intelligent people's collective craw.

Conservationist Groups and biologists have been condemning whalehunts for almost twenty years, and I would assume that part of that campaign is informing the international community about the heavy toll taken by the hunting on whale populations. The Japanese must know that the rest of the world isn't cool with the hunting, otherwise they wouldn't be exploiting the 'research vessel' loophole to carry out their activities.

Some people say that two wrongs don't make a right, but I also say that two negatives can make a positive. Paul Watson's methods might be unorthodox, but they do call attention to the problem and stir discourse.

I'm personally hoping that the ramming incident is something we aren't getting the whole story on and is being blown out of proportion, and that he isn't as crazy/dangerous as the ELF or the other extremist groups who don't shy from bomb-usage to make a point.

Imagine an aboriginal people that identifies with cetaceans. Because they simply cannot conceive of intelligent beings killing their kind (ancestor figures, totems, whatever) they resolve to 'take' 900 Japanese fishermen for scientific study.

To whoever said, "Militant attacks on legal activities are just that, militant attacks."

The problem is, whaling is an illegal activity. There has been a global moratorium on whaling since 1986, however Japan continues to whale by creating the 'scientific' loophole. The Institute for Cetacean Research, which is the backing for Japanese whaling, openly admits that the only purpose of scientific whaling is to ultimately lead to commercial whaling. Sea Shepherd is doing nothing more than enforcing the law, and I applaud them for that.

Now if only people paid that much attention/care/dedication for mountain gorillas being slain for their paws. Or elephants being slain for their ivory. Or other rare creatures the Chinese consume for fertility/headaches/stomachaches (because apparently they haven't discovered Tylenol or Viagra yet??).

I recognize the name "Farley Mowat".....I want to say he's an environmental author? "Never Cry Wolf".

I agree with Thomas, in general. Talking against countries' various wrongs never, ever worked and there's piss chance any embargoes will ever be put on Japan for its whaling nonsense. So long as people talk nothing will be done, against some countries just don't give a damn!

The Guardian has just published an article on Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace's'disagreement' over tactics. Frankly, Greepeace is being a bit silly in refusing to even talk to Watson (who is a loose cannon, there's no doubt). The fact is that is that they need each other. Sea Shepherd makes Greenpeace look reasonable, which may be useful in lobbying the anti-whaling nations, while Sea Shepherd are the militant types scaring the hell out of the Japanese and spuring on Greepeace to carry on with direct action. Its 'Lethal Weapon', with Watson as Mel Gibson and Greenpeace as Danny Glover.

What would be interesting is to know exactly how much money the Japanese government must spend each year on subsidising the fleet, paying off members of the whaling organisation they want to vote their way (not just joining fees but also 'development' funds), and the cost of actually trying to get rid of meat that the Japanese public actually dont want to eat. There must be a domestic political reason for this, but the whalers can't be that powerful by themselves, can they?

A big reason why the Japanese government is fighting for whaling is because of the powerful fishing lobby.

The fishing lobby wants to eliminate whales to restore dwindling fish populations. Their logic is if they kill the whales, the Japanese fishermen can catch the fish the whales would otherwise eat.

Andy Revkin brought up this point on Dot Earth.
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/the-song-of-the-hunted-hum…

By Joseph O'Sullivan (not verified) on 22 Jan 2008 #permalink

Where do you all get the idea that what SCS is doing is illegal? Why do you think there have been no arrests (other than the farcical episode where all charges were dropped)?

It's because they are not breaking any laws, but enforcing them.

Laws are written to protect the innocent and are the will of the people. Are the whales innocent and do the majority of people want to eat whales?

I believe the Japanese are err..."researching" the umm...nutritional value of whale "protein" by having several humans of various ages (Japanese citizens of course) pass it through their digestive systems. Yup...that's research. hahahaha, gotta be a moron to buy that crap. Real research would not require 900 whales.