Will Humpbacks Be Targets for Japanese Harpoons this Year?

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Countdown to Operation Musashi

Make Your body like a rock, and ten thousand things cannot touch you.
-         Miyamoto Musashi

This year we must implement the "Mountain-Sea Change" and "Penetrate the Depths." These are strategies of the legendary Japanese strategist Miyomoto Musashi, but as always the foundation of my strategy is the strategy of no strategy, a very effective zen strategy, also first articulated by Musashi.

For this season I am focusing on the teaching of Ai Uchi. This means that my crew and I will approach the whalers without anger, without fear, and with a profound dedication to serving the interests of our clients - the great whales.

We must think like the whalers do and we must anticipate what they will do.

It is fairly easy to predict the psychology of the Japanese whalers.

We expect them to be more aggressive this year.

We also expect them to spit in the face of Australians and declare that they intend to kill 50 Humpbacks, 50 Fins and 935 Piked (Minke) whales. They may raise the quotas but pride will dictate that they will not lower the quotas and the 50 Humpbacks they took off the table last year, they will most likely put back on the table this year, because they did not get what they wanted once again from the International Whaling Commission.

The whalers have seen the resolve of the Australian government dissolve over the last year. They will seek to exploit this weakness.

This is more than just the issue of killing whales for the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries. These are bureaucrats who see themselves as the guardians of Japanese nationalism and they look at any reduction in their kill quotas as a personal insult.

What does this mean for the Sea Shepherd crew?

It means we have to match the escalated aggression of the whalers with an escalated aggression of our own. It is not an easy task. We need to develop a strategy that will be effective yet non-violent. We need to uphold international conservation law but at the same time we must operate within the boundaries of international maritime law.

But that is what we do. In over 32 years of campaigns, no Sea Shepherd crewmember has ever been convicted of a felony, nor have we been sued and most importantly we have never caused a single injury.

This is a record that we intend to keep.

Operation Musashi is on schedule. We must meet the Japanese whaling fleet when they arrive in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in December.

Their objective is to kill whales and our objective is to prevent them from killing whales.

This will be our fifth voyage to these waters. Four voyages completed to the most remote and hostile seas on the planet without a single accident, or a single injury.

But most importantly these four voyages have resulted in well over a thousand whales saved. That my friends, is the ultimate in satisfaction and all the critics in the world cannot rob us of the knowledge that we succeeded in defending and protecting so many lives.

The Achilles heel of the Japanese whalers is profits. We must continue to cut into their profits and we must continue to make whaling more costly than profitable.

Our strategy is to locate, intercept, block and harass and also of course to deliver a few surprises.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society heads south to represent our clients - the great whales. What we do, we do for them. The risks we take, we take for them.

This is a noble enterprise, and our reward will be, as it has been for the last three years, the satisfaction of knowing that whales will continue to live that would otherwise fall victim to the cruel harpoon cannons.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is unique in this respect. When our ships arrive on the scene - the killing stops.

We don't have any "kill" footage of whales being harpooned because the whalers do not kill whales when we are around - they run and we pursue.

In the spirit of Miyamoto Musashi we will implement Operation Musashi with five approaches and five attitudes as described in the book Go Rin No Sho.

Step by step we will voyage the thousands of nautical miles required through fierce winds and icy seas, through dense fog and driving sleet where steel will clash with steel, with cannons silenced and the screams of whales diminished - there we will demonstrate that we the whale warriors are as determined in our service to the whales as any traditional samurai and in so doing we will do Musashi proud.

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