Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

To Whale or Not to Whale


The Japanese Foreign Ministry says Japan will abide by the verdict but the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries wants the “research” program to continue. The Institute for Cetacean Research, a government owned entity is saying that the Japanese whaling fleet will return to the Southern Ocean in 2015/2016.

The ICR will be petitioning a U.S. Federal Court in Seattle this week to request a permanent injunction against Sea Shepherd USA to prevent Sea Shepherd interventions against their illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean.

It is a move that makes little sense considering that Sea Shepherd USA withdrew from the Southern Ocean because of the temporary injunction granted to the whalers in December 2012.

However the ICR is now requesting that the U.S. Federal Court order Sea Shepherd Australia to abide by the injunction despite the fact that the U.S. Federal Courts have no jurisdiction over the activities of Sea Shepherd Australia.

Sea Shepherd USA has fully complied with the temporary injunction and will of course comply with a permanent injunction if issued.

In their submission to the U.S. Court the ICR states that they fully intend to return to the Southern Ocean for the 2015/2016 season. They expect the court to give them a permanent injunction to protect a whaling operation that the Japanese government has publicly stated will not take place.

What sort of games are they playing in Japan over this issue of whaling?

The Japanese whaling industry has a history of lying and duplicity with regards to whaling. In the Sixties, Japanese and Russian whaling fleets both under-reported kill figures every year, taking a third more whales than they reported.

Japan however is in a bind. If they ignore the ICJ ruling they risk undermining their own position should the ICJ be asked to rule on the dispute between Japan and China over the contested islands of Kita-Kojima and Minami-Kojima in the Senkaku Island dispute.

In the recent meeting between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Australian leader said nothing about whaling, sending a message to Abe that Australia will no longer oppose Japanese whaling in Australian Antarctic Territorial waters.

Sea Shepherd Australia will most likely encounter obstructions from the Australian government if the whalers return. Japan may even seek an injunction in the Australian Federal Court although this is highly unlikely considering that the Japanese whalers are presently in contempt of the Australian Federal Court.

For Tony Abbott it is a dilemma. The people of Australia overwhelmingly oppose whaling in the Southern Ocean and he is supposed to represent the will of the Australian people despite his obsession for trade relations at all costs.

This week will decide if the U.S. Federal Court will grant a permanent injunction to the Institute for Cetacean Research. If they do, it will be because Japan has convinced the court that they fully intend to return to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to resume the killing of the whales.

Will a U.S. Court make a decision in defiance of a verdict by the International Court of Justice? It is highly unlikely.

Although what the granting of such an injunction will mean is difficult to understand because the injunction will only impact Sea Shepherd USA and Sea Shepherd USA has no intention of returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Nonetheless the request for a permanent injunction has already heralded the reality that the ICR at least is planning on returning to the Southern Ocean in December 2015.

The other problem for Japan is their aging whaling fleet. They will have to make a decision soon to commission the construction of a replacement factory ship. This will be an enormous expense for an industry that has not made a profit in decades.

The ICJ gave Japan a face-saving way to exit from their embarrassing bogus research whaling scam. If they retreat now they will be able to say that it is because of their respect for the rule of law.

If they return they will be declaring to the world that they have little respect for international law and that they intend to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.

This of course will be consistent with Japanese foreign and fishery policy for over a century.

Paul Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017