Letter To the Editor
Academics love to pontificate on events as if their opinions come down from Mount Zion carved on stone tablets.
The latest editorial verbiage in The Australian has Associate Professor of Law Natalie Klein putting herself in the position of a Judge to condemn Sea Shepherd activists as pirates.
“Duh” Professor Klein, why don’t you tell us something we did not know? Perhaps you may have noticed our flag? I think our black and white color scheme with the skull and crossed trident and shepherd’s staff pretty much defines our pirate status.
So yes we’re pirates. So was Captain John Paul Jones, the founder of the U.S. Navy. So were Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. Did you notice the “Sir” bit Natalie?
Perhaps you are unaware that it was not the British Navy that brought piracy to an end on the Spanish Main. The credit for that goes to Captain Henry Morgan - a pirate!
So I have no problem with the headline of your article that “Whaling protesters are behaving like pirates”, except with the word “protesters.” We may be pirates, but we are not protesters. I hate that name actually, it sounds so submissive, “please, please don’t kill the whales.” I’ve never seen a banner, petition, or a hunger strike that has saved a whale - not a one. We on the other hand have cut Japan’s kill quota by a quarter to a half each year for the last five seasons.
No Natalie, we don’t protest. We intervene against illegal whaling. Japan’s whaling operation in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is a violation of numerous international conservation laws. By the way, did you notice the word “sanctuary?”
What is it about the word “sanctuary” that some people just don’t seem to understand?
There are many kinds of pirates, Professor Klein. Henry Morgan never became a true pirate until he was knighted and given the governorship of Jamaica and the resources therein to plunder.
Professor Klein also states that it is clear that Sea Shepherd has no policing powers. She is wrong. We act in accordance with the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature that allows for intervention to uphold international conservation law by non-governmental organizations and individuals. The Charter specifically specifies that this is especially valid in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
It is because Sea Shepherd targets illegal activities that we have never had a single criminal felony conviction in our 33-year history nor have we ever been sued. In addition, we have also never caused a single injury to any person in our history of intervention.
Captain Bethune did not commit an “act of violence”, and Captain Bethune did not board just any ship. Captain Bethune boarded the ship that destroyed his vessel, the Ady Gil, and nearly killed six Sea Shepherd crewmembers including him. He had a case to press, and with his own government missing in action to defend his New Zealand registered vessel and himself, he acted in accordance with New Zealand law to attempt a citizen’s arrest of the real pirate - the Captain of the Shonan Maru #2.
It is easy to be critical especially for an armchair academic. She can call Captain Bethune, my crew, and I anything she likes but at least we’re not sitting on our posteriors watching biodiversity diminish before our eyes and doing absolutely nothing like so many of those who are quick to judge.
The Japanese whalers are targeting endangered (Fin and Humpback) whales and protected (Antarctic Minke) whales in a legally established international whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling and in violation of the Antarctic Treaty. They are also in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order prohibiting whaling in the Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone. They are poachers, no different than East African elephant poachers except in Africa the poachers are Black, poor, and are shot for their crimes.
Australia recognizes that the Japanese whaling fleet is committing crimes. Why else would Australian ports be closed to the Japanese whalers? These ports are not closed to Sea Shepherd. So who are the real pirates? It’s not that there is a different law for the Japanese than the elephant poachers, it is simply that trade interests between nations factor into discrimination on the application and enforcement of the law.
We don’t like coming down here year after year. But we come because the signatories to the treaties and laws are doing nothing, just as the British did very little to stop piracy in the Caribbean in the 17th Century. Governments are doing even less today to stop the pirates diminishing life in the sea. Thus we have no choice than to be pirates of compassion in opposing the pirates of greed.
Professor Klein, talk is cheap, if you believe what we are doing is criminal than explain why we have not been arrested and charged with any offense. Explain why we have never been sued. Explain why there are millions of people around the world applauding our actions against these poachers. Perhaps you might enlighten us to why you see fit to condemn us and give comfort to the most cruel and remorseless poachers of wildlife on this planet - the whalers of Japan.
I think the world needs a few more courageous pirates to defend this planet. After all we can’t be any less effective than the politicians, bureaucrats, and the lawyers have been.
For the Oceans,
Captain Paul Watson