Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Improving the image of Japan's whalers

Although Japan is legally hunting* whales---or shall we say researching whales---and there is an argument to be made that the main whales being "researched" and killed are not endangered (minke), Japan seems to have been doing its best recently to give the impression that it will do what ever it wants to get its way in whaling. No matter the evidence one way or another, Japan looked pretty bad everywhere except in its own eyes.

Today, the extremist group known as Sea Shepard Conservation Society helped improve that image. Two of them illegally forced their way onto a whaling vessel and were restrained by the crew. Reports and film also show what are said to be bottles of acid** thrown on the ship by these fine folks. The crew restrained the apparent eco-terrorists and held them for a short while. The Sea Shepards then accused the Japanese crew of being terrorists.

Sea Shepard has a record of this type of activity. They have admitted to sinking whalers while in dock, ramming ships and fishing vessels and more. This is what makes me uncomfortable with trusting some of the opposition to whaling. No, endangered species should not be hunted unless there was some rare, short-term reason that would do no lasting harm to the population, but if some hunting can be conducted without harming the species, I don't see the problem. Sorry, I am not an animal rights extremist nor an anti-hunter. I have long believed that Japan might have a case for some limited, sustainable hunting but it also has the world's most ignorant, incompetent, inwardly-focused public relations in this area. It seems more focused on convincing Japanese of Japan's rightiousness and victimhood than of convincing the outside world.

Read more here or google for info on this and Sea Shepard/Paul Watson.

* Actually, this may be questionable as Japan seems to claim it is not hunting, but doing research which results in the death of hundreds of whales and the sale (and reported waste) of the meat. Why claim "research" if hunting is legal? 18 January.

**Sea Shepard claims that the acid was foul-smelling, but harmless. Perhaps one of the members should drink a bottle of it to provide graphic proof.

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