Sea Shepherd Launches Operation Leviathan

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Dutch13, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. Dutch13 macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    In December 2006 & January 2007, the Japanese whaling fleet will begin to illegally kill 1,000 whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. Fifty of these whales will be endangered humpbacks and another fifty will be endangered fin whales. Although the Japanese claim research as their motivation, the only research they are undertaking is product development and marketing of whale meat – to turn their illicit whale flesh into dog food, cosmetics, and sushi dishes they make huge profits.

    The killing of these whales is a gross violation of numerous international treaties and regulations including the U.N. World Charter for Nature and the Antarctic Territorial Treaty – commercial whaling is outlawed and it is illegal to hunt endangered species in an international whale sanctuary.

    Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has embarked on Operation Leviathan: a campaign to defend the whales. Please continue to read more here:
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    So out of curiosity, since you are Dutch, what is your position on Norweigian whaling? Is it easier to attack the Japanese because they are far away and look different? Or to ignore principle in lieu of quantities? My understanding is that Norway is also substantially increasing their whaling operations....
  3. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    I think the following quote from Capt Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society should answer your question:
    "No Westerner, Chinese, Indian or Arab, is under a cultural imperative to accept inhumane slaughter and blood sports. All human beings have a right to disrespect killing of any kind without being condemned or vilified for it. Japanese defenders of whaling have actually accused whale defenders of being racists for opposing the killing of whales. The opposition of the killing of anything cannot be dismissed as racist. There is no racial or cultural justification for slaughter. None."

    Personally, I make no distinction based on race and Sea Shepherd has not either. They have sunk four illegal Norwegian whaling vessels since 1992 and have driven up insurance premiums on all Norwegian whaling operations. This is what they have to say about the Norwegian whalers:
    "Although Sea Shepherd is presently focusing our energies on stopping the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica, we have not forgotten that Norway is equally guilty and just as ruthless at slaughtering whales. The only real difference between the two nations is that Norway makes no excuses for their illegal whaling. They simply call it commercial whaling and dare the rest of the world to do something about it."

    Here is a little bit of their history from the above link:
    "Saving whales is what we do best and what we are most noted for. Our approach has been simple and straightforward. We have shut down outlaw whaling activities in Norway, Iceland, Spain, and the former Soviet Union. We continue to be the most aggressive, most successful, and only organization dedicated to direct-action and intervention to protect the great leviathans. Sea Shepherd is the ONLY organization that is actively returning to Antarctica to intervene to protect these gentle giants.
    We are not talking about protesting illegal whaling nor are we talking about documenting illegal whaling activities. Our objective is the shutting down of illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary through the legitimate enforcement of international marine conservation law. The pirate whaling fleet of Japan can be stopped. We can prevent the killing of these whales. The problem is illegal and the solution is enforcement. Operating in accordance with the enforcement principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society can legally intervene to protect the Whale Sanctuary. Given a ship that can match the speed of the Japanese fleet, Sea Shepherd crew can shut down the illegal whaling activities in the cold and remote waters off the coast of the Antarctic continent."

    So in short, the illegal whaling operations of the Japanese are scheduled to begin in a few months. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the only organization that is planning to do something about it. I hoped the organization you referenced in your link would join to help. But at this time, Sea Shepherd is the only one, so I will support them and I hope others will too.
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Okay, I do see your point. And don't get me wrong. I'm mostly vegetarian. I only very rarely eat meat (I'm taking a few weeks off of being vegetarian right now, but I will go back soon). And I'd like to eventually convert to a vegan diet.

    But I also think that it is hardly shocking that your organizations and others like it have so little traction with the Japanese government, the Norwegian government, or anyone else. I'm not saying that I believe their numbers or rationales or projections any more than you do. But I also don't think there is a clear rationale to compel these governments to completely eliminate whaling. I'd like to see you get on a page with them and keep the whale populations healthy. But if your standard is zero whaling, then... I just never see that happening.
  5. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    Actually I do believe zero whaling is in our's just a matter of whether it is by choice or through extinction. The idea of "healthy whale populations" through hunting is a myth and will never occur for the simple reason that the whalers (Japanese and Norwegian) are corporations. They are driven by profit. (If there was any chance that they cared about sustainablility, that is undermined by the fact that they take from international waters and not an area they can claim to "own"). Given the opportunity, these corporations will just take and profit as much as they can and then when the whales are gone, they will just move on to the next industry. Just take a look at the plight of all the collapsed cod fisheries around the world (same pattern).

    What can compel governments to eliminate whaling is the demand to do so by its citizens--citizens who are motivated by compassion and a desire to protect these species. Until then, direct action groups like Sea Shepherd are the whales' best hope.

    (btw, good luck on your's really pretty easy)
  6. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    The Japanese are by far the biggest rapists of the sea.

    We used to watch them sit outside the offshore fishing limit and sneak in after sunset when I was doing a lot of sailing off the U.S. East Coast.
  7. elfin buddy macrumors 6502a

    elfin buddy

    Sep 16, 2001
    Tuttlingen, Germany
    Just curious here, but even if Sea Shepherd manages to raise enough capital to buy that lovely boat, how exactly does it intend to go about stopping the whaling? Will they run circles around the Japanese while harassing them? Will they physically try to block the Japanese from any whales? Will they become vigilantes and attack the Japanese? What's the plan here?

    What's that supposed to mean? Sea Shepherd has already been taking the law into its own hands by sinking Norwegian whalers? :confused:
  8. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    This Japanese whaling operation is in violation of many international laws and regulations, including:
    •They are violating the Southern Ocean Sanctuary
    •They are violating the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling.
    •They are targeting endangered fin and humpback whales that are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. (CITES).
    •The Japanese whalers are also in violation of the Australian laws protecting the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters.

    The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society operates legally under the United Nations World Charter for Nature which gives non-governmental organizations authority to enforce international law on the high seas.

    As for how they do this, here is a link describing past campaigns and tactics used by SSCS.

    Yes, they have sunk whaling ships in the past (all without a single injury, btw). You have to remember whaling is an illegal operation.
  9. elfin buddy macrumors 6502a

    elfin buddy

    Sep 16, 2001
    Tuttlingen, Germany
    From reading that link you posted, it appears that they sink ships by

    1) Ramming their hull, and
    2) If 1) doesn't work, sending "operatives" to sink the ship while in port.

    Is that right?

    I am quite sure that these Japanese whalers are breaking international law, but I'm still wondering what makes Sea Shepherd think they have the authority to uphold the law.

    I am unfortunately unfamiliar with the World Charter for Nature, so could you please point out to me specifically where it gives non-governmental organizations permission to run around sinking ships that they deem environmentally unlawful? Also, according to that link you posted, a judge (in Spain?) confiscated the original Sea Shepherd boat on account of it being used to sink other ships. But, Sea Shepherd says there was no hearing nor trial, and also claim that judge took a bribe. Is there someplace I can get a little more detail than this?

    Don't get me wrong, I am very environmentally conscious and love the romantic idea of swash-buckling sea adventures to save endangered species (really!), but I like to be careful about what environmental-activist organizations I support. This one seems a little radical at the moment, and perhaps is one of the organizations responsible for the bad rep hardcore environmentalists have now-a-days.
  10. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    Regarding the confiscation of their ship in Portugal, here is an excerpt from an interview done by Paul Watson that appeared in Satya Magazine that goes into a bit more detail:

    Satya: The action that put Sea Shepherd on the map was the ramming and subsequent sinking of the notorious whaling ship the Sierra. Can you recount this story for us, and what implications this one action had for both the conservation movement and the whaling industry?

    Watson: In July 1979, I hunted down, rammed, and disabled the pirate whaling ship Sierra, because for 10 years I watched as the International Whaling Commission and world governments did nothing to stop a ship that was blatantly flaunting international regulations protecting whales.

    I set out from Boston in the Sea Shepherd with a crew of 19 volunteers, found the Sierra 200 miles off the Portuguese coast, and chased her into the harbor of Leixoies. I gave my crew the option of departing if they did not wish to risk arrest by the Portuguese authorities. Seventeen of them left, leaving me, Peter Woof and Jerry Doran, two engineers.

    The three of us fired up the engine and made for the Sierra, which was in the middle of the harbor. I hit her at full speed across the bow to give warning, then made a tight circle and hit her as fast and as hard as I could on her port side. I saw Captain Nordegen firing a rifle at me but he was not a very good shot and I was a moving target. My bow sliced the Sierra open to the water line and forced her to go to a dock. We then fled, with the Portuguese Navy in pursuit. I was brought before the Port Captain and charged with gross criminal negligence. I replied by saying that there was nothing negligent about the ramming because I hit the bastard exactly where I intended to. The Port Captain actually laughed and said that I was technically right. He also could not identify the real owner of the Sierra, and said that until he did so, I was free to go.

    I returned in December to try and steal the ship from the harbor because a Portuguese judge had taken a bribe and ordered my ship turned over to the Sierra Trading Company. My crew and I were unable to steal the ship because it had been looted by the Portuguese police. So to prevent the ship from becoming the property of the Sierra Trading Company, we scuttled the Sea Shepherd on New Year’s eve in Leixoes harbor.

    Meanwhile, the Sierra had been repaired and was ready to return to sea. It never did so: on February 6, 1980, my crew blew the bottom out of her and permanently ended her career.*We traded a ship for a ship, but it was a great trade because we also traded our ship for the lives of hundreds of whales.

    As for your other questions regarding authority and radicalism, I think the rest of the above interview addresses those topics very well. I would paste the whole article here, but I'm not sure if that is allowed, so here is the link to the full interview:

    For even more in depth accounts, you might want to check out the book, Ocean Warrior by Paul Watson.

    This is an organization that operates in the open and responsibly. It has the support of individuals such as Dr. Tom Regan, Dr. Louise Leaky, Howard Lyman, Alex Pacheco, and Farley Mowat.
  11. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA

    i hope you're not serious. :rolleyes:
  12. riche macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2005
    South Wales
    Sea Shepherd Rocks!
    I just hope they can reach their $3,000,000 target. I think it's great that people are prepared to stand up and fight for a cause like this. Respect.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2002
    Bay of Fundy
    you've got to be joking. As a Maritimer, and one that lives in Southern New Brunswick where Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson is from, this organization is a horrible, horrible bane to the environmental movement. This is a man who got expelled from Greenpeace for being too radical for pete's sake!

    I work at an environmental organization, but to promote the destruction of property, and endangering human lives in the process, is ridiculous and irresponsible. Protection of nature is best done scientifically. You've got to do peer-reviewed studies that are iron-clad and honest, whether good or bad for your organization's goals. Extremism this day in age won't get you anywhere, you need to mediate and balance the ideal with what is do-able, and try to seek solutions that work in the real world.

    The Sea Shepherds have been causing trouble here for years, from their objections to the seal hunt, to their blockading of St. John's Harbour, to their near murder of an innocent fisherman. Please do not give to this organization, find other responsible environmental organizations that sponsor change through fact and discussion, not scare tactics and destruction.
  14. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA

    i can't agree more.
  15. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    I'd be interested in what "environmental organization" you work for. Your reference to iron clad scientific study sounds disturbingly similar to when the DFO hid behind "science" to justify cod fishing right up until it's collapse, or how George Bush perverted science to claim that there is no Global Warming or how the Japanese are now claiming they are doing scientific research by killing 1000 whales. In fact I suspect you are not even a real scientist since science does not deal with "iron-clad", but instead deals with statistical significance of hypotheses. That will not help the whales. Is there even a question as to whether the slaughtering of whales benefits whales? If you can find a single whale that wants to be shot with a grenade tipped harpoon and killed, then I will stop supporting the Sea Shepherd.

    However, your view is somewhat typical of the pro sealing Labrador folk who violently oppose the Sea Shepherd because they have been effective in focusing global attention on the barbarism of the seal hunt.

    "Near murder of an innocent fisherman"? That is ridiculous and you know it. Sea Shepherd is a non-violent organization that has never harmed anyone. Usually they are the ones on the receiving end of violence from the whalers and sealers. The Sea Shepherd crew have always taken great care to prevent injury, even though their opposition commits real acts of violence against nature.

    This is THE organization to support if you want your contributions to translate into concrete results for the animals. (if you support slaughtering seals, then this is not the organization for you)
  16. OnceUGoMac macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    I support the protection of endangered species. I don't support straw man arguments, violence, and destruction.
  17. Mac Kiwi macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2003
    New Zealand
    The only way the Japanese government will stop sanctioning whaling is when the Japanese people make it politically perilous for them to do so.

    There seem to be quite a few anti anti whaling supporters in Japan itself now,and as the population ages it could one day actually die off.The Japanese governments atempts at re introducing whale meat to the people does not seem to be working that well either.However at the international whaling conferences apparently it is not unusual for poor African countries to produce a large paper bag full of money to sign up for their memberships.The next step being to give a pro ballot to the proceedings.

    Give the whales a chance make them go back to wooden boats and the old style harpoons.I wonder how many of the whaling nations would still be interested then.

    I think its also important that when we say Japanese we mean the Japanese government and fisheries divisons re sellers etc,and not all Japanese.
  18. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6

    Nice analogy iGary. :p ;) :D
  19. Frogurt macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2006
    I had never heard of this organization before reading this, but I am very disturbed by even their own descriptions of their tactics.

    "...have sunk four illegal Norwegian whaling vessels since 1992 and have driven up insurance premiums on all Norwegian whaling operations."

    Attacking property in attempt to change policy or behavior is abhorent and is called terrorism. If we decide that this is OK, where do we draw the line? Maybe those people burning down luxury homes in the West are fine too, or maybe burning down laboratories, or maybe death threats to scientists and their families. Sea Shepherd may not have not hurt anyone (yet), but does that mean that the people on those boats were not in danger or were not explicitly threatened with physical harm by members of Sea Shepherd? How exactly does one get people off a boat so you can sink it without threatening them? Ask nicely? And bombing an empty boat in harbor? How do you know for sure it's empty? Sea Shepherd could have easily killed someone, and it could have been innocent people not involved in whaling.

    Also, my understanding is that the Japanese were exploiting a loophole in the regulations, but not technically breaking the law. In which case the loophole needs to be closed, but attacking people for legal behavior is even worse.

    I forgot to add ramming a boat, which could very easily kill someone. All it would take is someone hitting their head before the boat sinks.
  20. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    I find this man's actions humorous. Not that it's "funny ha ha" but "funny cos he's got balls." I'm not condoning what he's done, but to ram a vessel not once, but twice, then have it blown apart. That's some black-ops **** right there.
  21. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    Your use of the term "terrorism" in this context is an abuse of the term and an insult to anyone who truly is a victim of terrorism. A simple definition of terrorism is any act of violence that targets non-combatants or the innocent. Clearly whalers are not innocent in this conflict, and it is debatable whether violence can even be committed against inanimate objects. However, what is clear is that the whales are sentient beings, innocent, and the target of brutal violence, so it would seem to me that the real terrorists are the whalers.

    Your hypotheticals of what might happen seems a bit silly to me...what if when I am reading your post, I start laughing so hard that I choke on a peanut and die...does that make you a terrorist or murderer and then should you not post on forums anymore? Of course not--ridiculous. Furthermore, you are making these leaps in logic without knowing the details of those operations and simply making assumptions to support your argument. Sea Shepherd has conducted campaigns for over 25 years without ever injuring anyone--that is not luck, that is experience and careful planning.

    It's sad that so many people value objects and property more than life and feel so free to condemn the actions of those who work to save life.
  22. Frogurt macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2006
    American Heritage Dictionary-
    The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

    It would seem that destroying property is terrorism, and the definition of terrorism does not even contain any reference to "innocents" or necessitate loss of life. My definition is 100% correct, your definition is the inaccurate one.
    Your comparison between you reading my post and dying is moronic. I didn't make you eat the peanut you choked on, but they sure as hell did ram that boat. Your logic woud say I could ram another car with mine and not be responsible if someone dies. And all the carefull planning in the world can not prevent accidents and mistakes. Everyone makes them.

    You say I don't know the details, but... boat with peope on it, out in the water, another boat ramming into it... please explain what details I am missing that would prevent injury? Or better yet, explain how Sea Shepherd knew 100% without doubt that there was no one just on the other side of where they put their bomb? Give me the details.
  23. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    As Richard Betts of Columbia University points out "there has never been any consensus definition of terrorism". (The one I gave was a simplified version of the UN's definition) One recent survey that appeared in the journal, Foreign Policy, found 109 different definitions. The UN took years to finally agree on a working definition of the word and debate has raged for decades. A recent book that describes the debate at the UN and other international bodies over defining terrorism is 1,866 pages long and still does not come to a clear conclusion. Going to a dictionary is at best simplistic. It is clear that the word is overused and exploited. Afterall, one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. Nelson Mandela was jailed as a terrorist before becoming president. George Washington was considered to be a terrorist by the British. Michael Collins was labeled a terrorist until Ireland was granted independence. Call the Sea Shepherd what you want. In the end, they do good work. They work for the benefit of the animals. They stand up for the defenseless. They value life over property. They do not collect salaries or waste donations on fundraising and administration. They act with dedication and achieve results with meager resources. They fight for life and they fight for the earth--all without ever injuring a single person.
  24. Frogurt macrumors member

    Sep 8, 2006
    So there are lots of definitions of "terrorism" but a common one which defines the group you support is an "abuse?" I think most people would agree that using force and violence for the express purpose of intimidating people into doing what you want is terrorism. But in truth what you are saying is that the ends justify the means. Some people, myself included, disagree.

    Definitions aside, Sea Sheperd is by their own descriptions using violence and intimidation to achieve their goals. And, not only do they use force themselves, but the head of the group, Watson, condones the use of violence against people, even if he does not use it himself. I am quoting from the article you linked to....

    "I do not condemn and deplore the use of violence in upholding justice. I refrain from it myself, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has never caused a death or even an injury in our 25-year history. I do not however sit in judgment of the actions, strategies, or tactics of others. Strength lies in diversity of approaches and I support all means of fighting to protect this planet. ........We are a violent species, and we always solve our problems with violence. There have been no exceptions. Nonviolent victories are a myth. Force has always prevailed....I personally cannot get overly worked up about deprivation of human rights in a world where nonhumans have no rights at all."

    Those are exactly his words, in what can best be described as answers to lazily lobbed questions.

    You still have not provided details of how Sea Sheperd prevents injury. You said I was obviously lacking information, so help me out.

    Edit: Grammar fix.
  25. Dutch13 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2005
    First, I don't think your idea of terrorism is correct. By your definition, wars would be terrorism. The word has to contain a notion oft non-combatants or innocents being involved. But I agree with you, that it is pointless to debate semantics especially when lives (of the whales) are at the heart of the discussion.

    Regarding your quote from Capt take his words slightly out of context with your "..." omissions. For anyone interested, I would recommend going to the link to read the full response which is several paragraphs long. I see nothing wrong with what he said and it shows him to be very well versed in history. It is an accurate account and he is free to have such an opinion.

    As for the how they prevent injury question...Over the past 25+ years there have been numerous campaigns, so I'll start with one of their better known ones--the sinking of two Icelandic whaling ships in Reykjavik in 1986. Care in planning is the first step in preventing injury. They chose to act in November, when tourists were gone and the whaling season was over, so the ships would be docked. Prior to even arriving in Iceland, weeks were spent gathering intelligence and devising the plan. Once in Iceland, they spent several weeks conducting surveillance of their target ships until they noticed a pattern. On Friday nights, a lone watchman would be in charge of guarding the four docked ships and he could be seen carrying two bottles of vodka with him each time he arrived for duty. There was no activity on three of the ships, with the watchman staying on the fourth ship which was farthest from the dock. Based on this intel, they chose to act on a weekend and very late into the night when no one would be around. Remember, by now, the crews were ashore, and any work on the ships was restricted to daylight hours, so there was no chance of anyone onboard, except for the lone watchman. Nevertheless, when they boarded the first ship, one person searched the entire ship for any unaccounted sleeping watchman or crew. Meanwhile his partner went into the engine room and opened the ship's salt-water cooling valve which allowed the ocean water to rush in and begin to flood the engine room and ultimately the ship, slowly sinking it to it's rightful watery grave. They repeated the process on a second ship, and by 5am they left the area as half of the Icelandic whaling fleet sank to the ocean bottom. In January 1988, Paul Watson flew to Iceland to challenge the Icelandic government to arrest and prosecute him. They refused to lay charges because a trial would expose their illegal whaling operation to the world.

    As for using explosives to sink boats...I do not recall this tactic ever being used by Sea Shepherd. Did you see this somewhere or were you just assuming that is how one scuttles a ship? (On the other hand, the Sea Shepherd has been depth charged by the Norwegian Navy and has been shot at by whalers.) If you are referring to their intentional sinking of their ship, Sea Shepherd, in Lisbon, it was scuttled using the same technique I described above which btw is a slow process that takes place over several hours. (that is what Watson meant when he said " crew blew the bottom out of her in Lisbon..." in the linked interview)

    Regarding the safety of ramming a ship...Capt. Watson has decades of experience on the sea and by targeting specific areas of a ship at certain speeds and angles, a ship can be safely disabled. Also remember, whaling ships are usually much larger than the Sea Shepherd ships, so it is not a high speed car wreck like you may be imagining. Plus, ramming is used to disable a ship, not sink it.
    When there is danger or the chance of injuring crew below deck, they have refrained from engaging and often the whalers get away and must be located another day. Also, I do not think ramming is their tactic of choice anyway.

    Well, hope this clears up a few things for you. It's easy to imagine dramatic dangerous situations when in real life they are not. By the way, you may also be interested to know that Paul Watson was named by Time Magazine in 2000 to be one of the world's top "Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century." And in 1999, he was awarded the George H. Bush "Daily Points of Light Award" for his conservation activism.

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