Reprieve for whales

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Last Thursday, Japan recalled its whaling fleet a month early, officially ending their 2011 illegal whale hunt in the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. In an amazingly candid statement, Japan blamed Sea Shepherd, the marine conservation group whose anti-whaling direct action tactics have gripped those of us who are cetacean lovers worldwide.

Hopefully this suspension will become permanent, proving the death knell to these factory ships of brutality and death, that been allowed to trawl the protected oceans of the southern hemisphere for decades, illegally slaughtering these magnificent sentient beings, the critically endangered blue whales, humpbacks, minke, fin and other whale species.

Because of the direct activism and heroism of the Sea Shepherd crews, the Japanese whalers were only able to kill 10 percent of their quota of over 900 whales this season. Great credit also must be given to the governments of Australia, the Australian Green Party, New Zealand, Netherlands and Chile for their proactive support of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s efforts.

Conversely, great condemnation must be assigned to the Obama administration for attempting to reverse campaign promises in 2008 to end whaling, going so far as contemplating supporting Japan in lifting the whaling ban last June at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Morocco.

More disconcerting, in 2009, the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission discussed revoking Sea Shepherd’s tax exempt status during a meeting with senior officials from the Fisheries Agency of Japan; “Action on the SSCS (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) would be a major element for Japan in the success of the overall negotiation,” a Japanese official said, according to one source.

Indeed, this victory at sea, for this year at least, has sparked great debate within Japanese society and government about the whaling issue, and must provoke debate within our own whether there is true environmental commitment on the part our own leaders.

Because of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and all those who have provided support, large and small, the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is now safe, a truly historic and crucially important environmental contribution made by our generation.

Pamela Campbell