Thursday, November 15, 2012
The other day, the Animal Planet show Whale Wars came up in a conversation with a friend who is well-versed in the environment but would hesitate to call himself an environmentalist.
I asked him: do you think Sea Shepard leader Paul Watson is a criminal or a hero?
He responded quickly: hero.
Powerful nations have issued arrest warrants for Watson becasue he harasses Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese whalers apparently take advantage of a loop hole in International Whaling Commission rules and take whales for "scientific research". This research hopes to catch and kill 900 whales -- 850 minke and 50 fin whales -- this season, according to the New Zealand Herald. On some lists, fin whales are classified as endangered.
Sea Shepard will try once again to stop them from killing any whales. Their methods include boat maneuvers to block the whalers and rancid butter tossed onto the processing decks of the whaling ships (it ruins the fresh whale meat). There have been collisions, and it seems only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
Some say they do not agree with whale hunting but they would like to see Sea Shepard do it in a different way. Others say different ways have been tried including international legislation and steady condemnation by international groups, but these are not working.
Some contend Watson is just in it for the limelight. Hard to know but anyway, so what? His methods bring attention to the issue.
Maybe Watson is both a hero and a criminal. One man's patriot is another man's terrorist?
Perhaps one relatively small organization challenging the national whaling fleet of Japan in the dicey Southern Ocean deserves the benefit of the doubt.
It's difficult to trust the Japanese intentions toward the oceans considering their ongoing behavior, which includes a relentless pursuit of the very last bluefin tuna despite the consequences, and their infamous dolphin slaughter at Taiji.
Just because it remains legal does not make it right. Maybe it's time to give the whales a break. You decide.
Posted by Mike Misner at 10:38 AM