Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd, writes:
Unfortunately, the recent news that the Japanese company Nissui has sold
their shares and interests in whaling has led many people to believe that
Japanese whaling has ended. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a victory for the whales
that Nissui has agreed to get out of the whaling business, but they have merely
divested themselves of their shares, which have been taken over by the
government of Japan.
The Japanese whaling fleet intends to return to the Southern
Oceans in December to once again slaughter whales and this time they intend to
target 50 endangered Fin whales and 50 endangered Humpback whales.Greenpeace will not be returning, so Sea Shepherd will be
the only organisation taking a ship back to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary in
December, unless, of course, we can convince Greenpeace to join us which appears at
this point to be unlikely.
According to Mark Palmer of Earth Island Institute,
“It is clear that the public pressure on corporate shareholders like Nissui and
Sealord has shown how fragile corporate interest in whaling actually is. Clearly
the international seafood industry does not wish to be associated with the
Japanese Government’s so-called scientific whaling programme and has no interest
in a return to commercial whaling.
However, rather than simply dumping the shares, Sealord and Gorton’s parent
company Nissui should have used its influence to help end whaling. The people
have spoken, consumers have spoken and corporations have spoken. Kyodo Senpaku,
the Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Institute of Cetacean
Research should face up to reality and end the
annual whale hunt.”
Nothing has changed except the names of the owners of the
ships and the industry. Or has it? The announcement by Nissui sends a
message loud and clear that the international public has no tolerance
for Japanese whaling. Nissui had to divest because two of their
companies – Gorton’s Seafood of the United States and Sealord of New
Zealand – were the target of consumer boycotts in nations that deeply
care about whales.
The campaign began with the Earth Island Institute in January 2005, when
Sealord asked Earth Island about becoming certified as dolphin
Island is the organisation
that monitors dolphin safe tuna worldwide. Earth Island told Sealord they could
not be certified because they were half-owned by Nissui, a company with shares
in the Japanese whaling industry.
Further investigation by Earth Island resulted in a decision in November
2005 to launch a boycott of Sealord. Earth Island
informed Sealord that the consumers had a right to know of Sealord’s connection
to a company that illegally kills whales and Australian and New
Zealand consumers were not very happy to
support a company involved with whaling.
Sealord responded by calling Earth Island a commercial terrorist
organisation. However, name calling did not get the boycott off their back.
Thousands of leaflets were distributed at supermarkets and the boycott expanded
and gained a wide base of support by February of 2006. Mark Berman of Earth
Island travelled to New Zealand in
February to push the campaign into high gear, with the support of grass roots Kiwi
groups, and his efforts paid off with the recent announcement by
Nissui decided to keep its holdings in Sealord and in Gorton’s and
this was partly because whaling is becoming increasingly more unpopular
both outside and inside Japan. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is
very appreciative of the incredible effort that the Earth Island
Institute put into this campaign.