On at least two occasions since the moratorium on commercial whaling was agreed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), member nations have circled around the idea of coming to some form of compromise between the pro-whaling and the pro-whale sides. These attempts at compromise have failed and the moratorium remains in place, but there are indications that another deal is in the offing. This is an unfortunate development.
For the moment, Japan seems intent on launching its plan for a new 'scientific' whaling programme in the Southern Ocean. Whilst it has some allies, the issue drives a wedge between Japan and many other nations. Japan may be able to deflect charges against whaling, including that it is cruel, by casting such criticism as a form of anti-Japanese cultural imperialism. Our only hope is that, given the ICJ ruling is above any rhetoric or politics, perhaps those in power in Japan will be better able to see that commercial whaling is ecologically unsound, uneconomic and, in terms of international relations, disastrous.
There was a time when the fight to save the whales was at the forefront of environmental concerns. Sadly, this is no longer true and, as we approach the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission a little later this month, it is worth reflecting on the dilemmas now facing those who continue to oppose whaling for profit.
We have been opposing the Japanese whaling fleets in the Southern Ocean since 2002 and we have undertaken ten campaigns with numerous ships and more than a thousand volunteers to non-violently intervene against what we have always insisted is illegal whaling. Japan filed suit against Sea Shepherd USA in the U.S. courts and had Sea Shepherd and myself charged with numerous counts of contempt for which we were found not guilty. Japanese whalers destroyed a Sea Shepherd vessel and injured numerous Sea Shepherd crew-members.