I realize that it's politically incorrect to defend whaling, but as is often the case with political correctness, I just don't care.
"Captain" Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society fleet has harassed the Japanese whaling fleet for years. Discovery Networks even developed a show called "Whale Wars" around the exploits of his ships, the Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and Ady Gil. The Ady Gil was sunk on January 6th when it approached too close to one of the Japanese fleet's security vessels and was rammed.
On Monday, the Ady Gil's skipper, a New Zealander named Pete Bethune, boarded the Shonan Maru 2, the ship that sank his vessel. His intent was to present a $3 million bill to its captain for the loss of the Ady Gil and perform a citizen's arrest of the captain for attempted murder. The Japanese government is still trying to determine what to do with Bethune, who illegally boarded and stowed-away aboard a Japanese Flag vessel.
So says Captain Watson (from the AFP):
"Captain Bethune was entirely in his rights to confront the man who almost killed him and destroyed his ship.
"And now this same Japanese captain who destroyed a ship almost killing its crew is intent on bringing Captain Bethune back to Japan as his captive. The question must be asked -- who are the pirates here?"
Why, you are, Captain Watson. Your ships have repeatedly harassed the Japanese whaling fleet, which is engaged in activities its government deems are legal, whether you like it or not. You have attempted to foul their cargoes, board their vessels, injure their crewmen and disable their ships on the high seas. These are acts of piracy. Bethune had no right to board a ship which had not granted him permission, and if the Sea Shepherds want to present a bill to the Japanese, I am certain there is a Japanese embassy or consulate in New Zealand where he could present the claim.
Today, we learned that another collision has taken place.
Australian officials urged restraint by both sides after ships owned by Japanese whalers and anti-whaling activists collided Saturday in the Antarctic.
"The Southern Ocean is a dangerous and inhospitable part of the world," said a statement from Peter Garrett, Australia's environment minister.
No one was injured in Saturday's collision, in which each side blamed the other, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker suffered a yard-long gash in the collision with the Yushin Maru 3 in their first meeting since the sinking of the 16-ton Ady Gill in a collision with the whaling fleet's security ship, Shonan Maru 2.
Despite the damage, the Bob Barker remained in pursuit of the Yushin Maru 3 as it headed toward the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory, Paul Watson, the head of Sea Shepherd, said Saturday night.
Watson said the whalers were using water cannons and acoustic devices against the crew of the Bob Barker while Japanese officials accused the Sea Shepherd crew of trying to blind them with a high-powered laser device.
This is ridiculous. The Sea Shepherds are taking actions that, were it not in defense of whales, would entitle them to arrest as soon as they reached port. They have attacked the ships of a foreign nation on the high seas. They they have not used firearms or other traditional weapons systems is irrelevant. They are the aggressors. Each one member of these crews should consider themselves lucky that the Japanese Navy has not been dispatched to capture or sink their vessels.
They say they are protecting the whales, but it is clear that from watching the show that the they are really in this for the thrill; whales are an excuse, and if the Japanese ended whaling tomorrow the Sea Shepherds would be going after tuna fishermen or kelp harvesters by the end of the week. Like so many radicals, from Che Guevara to Cindy Sheehan, it isn't about the issue, it's about the fight.
Piracy is a serious worldwide problem that is badly affecting the transmission of goods and harming the economies of many nations, not the least of which is Australia (piracy in the crowded, narrow waters of Indonesia affects goods transported to Australia and New Zealand). This crew may not be the ransom-seeking murderers living Somalia or the cargo stealing cut-throats of the Java straights, but in the end they are little better.