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Sea Shepherd launch Operation Musashi at International Whaling Commission
by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
Friday Jun 27th, 2008 10:36 AM
"We intend to sink the Japanese fleet economically," said Captain Paul Watson at the launch of Sea Shepherd's 5th Antarctic campaign against whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
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"Our strategy is to prevent whales from being killed, to force Japan to spend money on fuel without killing whales. My crew and I will not watch whales die, we will not bear witness to the cruel slaughter of a single whale without risking our lives to prevent its unlawful and cruel murder. If the members of the IWC refuse to act to save the whales, then it is up to us to take this fight onto the high seas where we will prevail in the next season even more successfully than we prevailed in the last season." said Captain Watson.

Paul Watson launched the 5th Sea Shepherd Antarctic campaign to stop Japanese whaling on Thursday June 26, 2008. The campaign is called Operation Musashi after the legendary Japanese strategist and samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, a personal role model and hero of Captain Watson. "Sea Shepherd intends to transform Setsuninto - the sword {harpoon} that takes life - to Katsujinken - the sword {harpoon} that gives life." said the press release. The Steve Irwin is currently being outfitted for the next whaling season including be fitted with a 'very special harpoon'.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is attending the site of the International Whaling Commission meeting with former Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell who is now on the advisory board of Sea Shepherd. They are staying in the Sheraton Hotel - Watson made his booking a year ago - though they are officially banned from attending IWC sessions as the IWC has placed a ban on Sea Shepherd having any sort of observer or participant status.

Paul Watson ventured outside the hotel on Tuesday 24 June to do an interview with a Japanese media crew, just as Chilean anti-whaling protestors were being hauled away and arrested by the police for attempting to storm the police lines to enter the hotel. There appears to be more action on the streets than the banal rhetoric exchanged at the conference table.

And where is Australia's Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, in all this? Busy obfuscating and saying many words with very little meaning it seems. Paul Watson described Garrett as "deaf to the screaming of the whales and somewhat vague about Australia’s position but he was exemplary as a politician. He apparently has mastered how to use the maximum number of words to say the least about anything."

According to Garret's press release (RESEARCH PROPOSAL RECEIVES WIDE SUPPORT AT IWC - June 26) Australia has successfully sponsored a non-lethal regional whale research program in the Southern Ocean, including committing approximately $3.3 million to whale research over the next 12 months.

"Australia will also put forward a further proposal for the establishment of internationally agreed whale conservation management plans at the Commission tomorrow." said Garrett. The following day press release (Chile-Australia Statement of Intent - June 27) was all about an agreement between Chile and Australia on co-operative whale research. Nice, but it doesn't say a word about reforming the IWC to close the loophole on scientific whaling that Japan uses to conduct its thinly disguised commercial whaling activities.

The Australian Rudd Government commitments in the election last year to end the fiasco of commercial whaling by Japan undertaken in the name of scientific research has so far come to very little. Several months after the last whaling season and the Government has failed to initiate action to pursue a lawsuit against illegal Japanese whaling, even though substantial resources were spent by the Government in documenting the Japanese venture.

Now we find the Rudd Government has contracted the Australian research vessel Aurora Australis to the Japanese Government in 2008/2009 to resupply a Japanese Antarctic base and to carry out marine research on krill. It seems now that Rudd and Garrett are in power they do not want to confront Japan and put an end to whaling once and for all. It is being left up to non-government organisation: Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd to speak for the people of Australia, and indeed the world, to take direct action to stop whaling.

Chile declares whale sanctuary

During this IWC meeting Chilean President Bachelet signed the Chilean whale sanctuary bill at the former whaling town of Quintay, with Greenpeace activists present along with Australian environment minister Peter Garrett, New Zealand's environment minister Steve Chadwick, Lord Rooker, UK Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health and Roberto Dobles Mora, Costa Rican Minister of Environment and Energy.

"The creation of the Chilean sanctuary is a great step forward for whale conservation in Latin America, especially as the IWC is currently discussing the creation of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary", said Greenpeace Chile whales campaigner Samuel Leiva. "Now it's up to the IWC members to take president Bachelet's example, and modernize the organisation into one that works for the whales, not the whalers."

Greenpeace activists arrested over Whale Meat Scandal

In Japan, two members of Greenpeace have been arrested, and Greenpeace offices raided over an expose of a major whale meat theft scandal. The evidence that these two activists had included a box of whale meat that had been smuggled off the whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru, disguised as crew members' personal possessions for black market sale, at the expense of the Japanese taxpayer. The activists can be held for up to 23 days without charge under Japanese law.

"While the two are being detained without charge, government officials from the Fisheries Agency of Japan are attending the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Chile where it is seeking to end whale conservation by calling for a return to commercial whaling, it is even threatening to leave the IWC if it does not get its way," said Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Jun Hoshikawa.

"It's appalling that Japan's delegation is attending an IWC meeting aimed at healing division within the organisation, while the Japanese government holds Junichi and Toru in custody for exposing the whale meat scandal and corruption at the heart of the whaling industry." said Karen Sack, Head of Oceans for Greenpeace International. "Japan needs to end its sham scientific whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary now, if it is to retain international credibility".

According to Greenpeace the evidence shows "a systematic, large scale operation on board the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru, to steal whale meat processed from the Southern Ocean hunt. It is believed the practise has been taking place for many years."

Greenpeace has launched an international on-line petition directed at Japan's Prime Minster, Fukuda, appealing for him to intervene to end this heavy-handed charade and order the release of the activists. Within 48 hours of the petition's launch, some 76,000 people had sent messages to Japanese embassies worldwide.

Sources:

§Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett
by Takver - Sydney Indymedia Friday Jun 27th, 2008 10:36 AM
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Peter Garrett is a former lead singer of progressive Australian Rock band, Midnight Oil. He is a past President of the Australian Conservation Foundation.