The United Nations court may have halted whaling in Japan, but the Sea Shepherd’s whaling protest days are far from over. In fact, founder Paul Watson said that he’s planning to steer the Shepherd’s ships back to the Southern Ocean in December to make sure that the Japanese mean it when they say they’re stopping the hunt.
In Watson’s words:
“I’m not 100 percent convinced they will abide by the ruling. They tend to agree and then do whatever they want to do anyway. That has been the history with the International Whaling Commission. Our ships will be prepared and ready to return if they return. And if they don’t return, then we’ll be able to refocus our efforts against Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese whaling.”
I don’t know how much Sea Shepherd had to do with the World Court’s decision, but if you’ve ever seen an episode of Whale Wars on Animal Planet then you know how hard Watson and his team have fought to stop Japanese whalers. Volunteers travel to antarctic waters by boat, and literally risk death putting themselves between whales and hunters to save the sea creature’s lives.
According to Watson, Sea Shepherd has saved more than 5,000 whales since members set sail in the Southern Ocean. They’ve long accused Japanese whalers of hunting to sell whale meat (which is illegal under international law) and not for scientific research as they claimed. The international court agreed, which is why whaling is now barred for Japan.
The Sea Shepherd Beyond Whales
Most people know the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for their anti-whaling efforts, but they actually do a lot more than fight whalers. They have plenty of other conservation campaigns, like Operation Reef Defense to save coral reefs, Galapagos Defense to protect the Galapagos Islands and Cove Guardians to save dolphins.
They don’t always play by the rules — they’ve thrown stink bombs at whaling ships, and shone lasers at hunters’ eyes to get them to stop — but they’re fighting the good fight. I hope this victory over Japanese whale hunting leads to many, many more for the good Shepherds.