Walking the Line of Whale Protection

Minke Whale

As  ‘Whale Wars’ season 2 finale rolled its credits a couple weeks back I have been left contemplating whether or not I would actually broach the topic on Thriving Oceans.  To be honest I have been throwing the idea back and forth ever since season 1, but I always managed to find something else to capture my attention (perhaps on purpose).  Now that the season is over and I’m sure has already circulated throughout the blogs, I am left with what may just be a passé post.  But, since I already started I decided to continue on and see what happens to pop onto the page.

In nothing less than a rollercoaster ride of emotions, the last two episodes brought whaling out of the shadows and plastered it over television screens throughout the world.  Sure I’ve seen the sickening whaling footage captured by the likes of Greenpeace, but in a sense of irony, as I am watching a program about whaling, I was not fully prepared to witness the slaughter in a Friday night context.  And if you’re thinking this is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ on my part you are indeed correct.

What I found most interesting was the fact that while I was (and still am) truly appalled by the Japanese whaling activities and left mocking their propaganda-esque banners claiming they are “taking tissue samples,” or “studying stomach contents,”  I found myself wondering if a line had been crossed when the Sea Shepherds collided with the Yushin Maru #3 harpoon ship.  Did I betray my own beliefs by asking such a question?  I just saw a number of whales loaded onto the processing ship and a whale finally succumb to a very graphic death at the hands of the Japanese whaling fleet , so how could I even mull over whether the collision was justified? Especially since there is no doubt with whom I side.

Well, perhaps this says something about my character and perhaps it is also a case of filling the role of an armchair captain that drove my initial reaction.  But after careful introspection I, firstly, cannot say what I would do in the heat of witnessing such ocean atrocities, and secondly I just cannot  bring myself to say it was the wisest of all decisions.   My uneasiness  with the collision was not the byproduct of compassion for the whalers themselves, but for the cause I support.  Had someone been critically injured I am left wondering how that would have detrimentally affected direct/indirect action, whether by Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, or other non-profits, against whalers in the future.  We need to ensure those groups are available to continue their campaigns and not locked up in an international legal incident.

While policies need to change for the elimination of all whaling, thwarting Japanese efforts to fill their quotas in the meantime should be conducted in ways  that will not harm the ultimate goal. With that said I have no problem with riding the edge to protect whales in the Southern Ocean.   And while the whale warriors prepare for another season of cetacean protection, the vast majority of us are left simply watching from afar.  Instead of being mere observers we should also embark on a journey…a journey of support, of letter writing campaigns, and of boycotts to aid all of the great organizations working to bring an end to the harpooning of whales.

Sometimes it takes a man in black (or people in black in this case) to walk the line and bring a cause back  to the worldwide stage.


*Check out a great interview of Paul Watson conducted by TreeHugger

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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  1. Hart

    Remember, Paul Watson WANTS an international incident. Putting Paul Watson and SSCS on trial is the last thing the Japanese poachers want, they know it would only bring more attention to their illegal whale killing activities.

    “Only outlaws can save wilderness.” ~Edward Abbey

  2. Mola2mola

    Thanks Hart and you are right about Cpt. Watson, which is why he had Sea Shepherds board a Japanese whaler as well. I’d just hate to see legal troubles prevent SSCS from patrolling the Southern Ocean for a few years while the harpooning and slaughtering continued in the interim. But then again it’s a gamble that would be well worth it if it resulted in an actual end to whaling.

  3. Pingback: Thriving Oceans » Blog Archive » Whaling under the guise of science

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