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Sea Shepherd extends olive branch to Greenpeace to find Whalers

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
Captain Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has offered to co-operate with Greenpeace in searching for the Japanese whaling fleet, utilizing the Sea Shepherd helicopter, Kookaburra. Greenpeace ship Esperanza departed Auckland, New Zealand without their helicopter which had mechanical problems.

The Steve Irwin has also had problems with a blown piston on one of its engines forcing it to return to Hobart arrival due on December 22 to pick up replacement parts and also taking the opportunity to refuel to extend its range.

It is believed the whaling fleet has started whaling to the south-west of Fremantle. The Australian Customs and Fisheries patrol vessel Oceanic Viking will depart Fremantle in the next few days to shadow the whaling fleet. The Australian Government has also committed the Australian Antarctic Division Airbus A-319 jet to seach for and do surveillance on the whaling fleet.

Paul Watson in his blog of December 19 describes the search task:

"Our actual task in searching for the Japanese fleet is awesome. We are looking for six ships in an area twice the size of Australia and we are working with limited resources without any governmental support against a wealthy industry with the most sophisticated equipment and the full backing both financially and with military surveillance and defense capabilities."

Once again Watson holds out an olive branch to Greenpeace in his blog:

"It would be nice if we could cooperate with the Greenpeace Foundation to track and oppose the whalers. After all we should be on the same page but Greenpeace refuses to respond to our repeated requests and refuses to provide coordinates for the Japanese fleet when they find them first. Sea Shepherd will nonetheless provide Greenpeace with the coordinates as we did earlier this year when we located the Japanese whaling fleet first."

Unfortunately Watson's pleas are highly likely to be rejected by the hierarchy within Greenpeace, as the organisation has built up too much of an international profile with its own strategy and tactics that has become pretty much ideological. Co-operation will be rejected by Greenpeace the organisation but I get the impression the differences are less pronounced between activists in both camps. Certainly crew members on the Esperanza and Steve Irwin will have a certain respect for their fellow activists in the harsh icy waters of the southern ocean.

The differences between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd are based on history and personal conflicts (such as between Watson and ex-Greenpeace President and present apologist for the nuclear industry Patrick Moore) and to a certain extent on tactics. Paul Watson has not been afraid to step over the line of symbolic direct action which Greenpeace practices, to a direct action that is aimed at stopping or disabling his opponent without injury to people. The injuries Watson and the Sea Shepherd have inflicted have been to the instruments of whale slaughter and death - the equipment of the pirate whalers or long-line fishing pirates that have continued their trade despite widespread public condemnation.

Watson ends his blog entry with a very pluralist statement:

"If we are going to stop the ruthless Japanese whaling fleet we will need a cooperative effort not just with Greenpeace but also with the Humane Society, the Australian and New Zealand governments and any and all organizations and governments that want to end illegal whaling activities. We should all be on the same page if we are to turn the page on whaling to make it history."

Indeed. Paul Watson played an important role as a co-founder of Greenpeace, as a tactician in the original antiwhaling campaigns in 1975-76 when he and Bob Hunter pioneered placing themselves between the Russian harpoons and the whales. Japanese whaling will only be stopped with a diversity of tactics with many people willing to take some action whether it be signing a petition, protesting at a Japanese consulate or as a Sea Shepherd or Greenpeace crewmember or supporter.


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