I was very disappointed to read Khalil Hegarty’s Crikey article alleging that Greenpeace selects easy targets in its high profile campaigns. Seeing as Hegarty’s pals at ITS Global are the leading public relations lackeys for Rimbunan Hijau – the Malaysian logging company destroying PNG rainforests – he would be fully aware of the Greenpeace campaign against that company, which is hardly a high profile name in Australia or Europe.

It would seem that our long-time adversaries over at ITS Global are not aware of our history, which received quite a bit of media attention last September. Perhaps we forgot to invite Alan Oxley and the gang to our gala photo exhibit.

The occasion was the 30th anniversary of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, which began in 1977 by opposing the whaling of …wait for it… Australia. Greenpeace activists used tactics honed in their campaign against Russian whaling, and in particular their factory whaling ship, Dalniy Vostok.

Over the years Greenpeace has campaigned in many other countries that whaled, including the Faroe Islands (whose foreign policy is run by Denmark), Brazil, Iceland, Norway, Peru and Spain.

The first Rainbow Warrior famously escaped from 5 months’ custody at the Spanish naval base at El Ferrol, after being arrested for stopping a Spanish catcher boat from hunting whales.

As Campaign Director of Greenpeace Canada in the late 90s, I recall having to telephone the mother of a Canadian activist to assure her that the rifle shots fired at a Greenpeace inflatable by Norwegian whalers had in fact missed her daughter. Another activist almost died and spent months in hospital when his inflatable was run over by the Norwegian Coast Guard.

The public awareness work that we have undertaken in Norway, combined with a lack of appetite for whale meat, has seen their whalers fail to reach their quota year after year, with wholesalers refusing to buy more meat. In 2007 they caught 592 whales out of a quota of 1,052. In Iceland, where demand for whale meat is very low, Greenpeace has been promoting whale watching as an alternative to whaling. The Icelandic authorities first scaled back and then eliminated ‘scientific’ whaling altogether, and announced that no quotas for whales will be issued in 2008.

The reason that Greenpeace now concentrates on Japan is ironically contained in Hegarty’s article. His fifth-grader attempt to average Japan’s whale kill at 750 per year since 2000 belies the fact that in 2005 Japan announced it would:

  • double the number of minke whales killed;
  • add new species to their bag (the endangered fin and the threatened humpback, now temporarily reprieved);
  • re-iterate their intention to resume commercial whaling; and
  • increase their efforts to use their foreign aid to recruit more countries to the International Whaling Commission, to rubber stamp their whale-killing agenda.

I can’t help but wonder if Hegarty’s missive is an indicator that ITS Global has a new client: the Japanese whalers. It certainly reads like a PR piece on their behalf, not least of which is the hoary old chestnut that Greenpeace only campaigns on Japanese whaling to raise funds.

To which I would say to Hegarty and the Japanese whalers: Go ahead. Put theory into action. Bankrupt Greenpeace. End whaling.

Peter Fray

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