Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace take on Norwegian whalers; JAPAN IGNORES SANCTUARY; RUSSIA MAY FOLLOW

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1994:

NORTH SEA, TOKYO–––As a
summer of intense whaling and anti-whaling
activity off Norway closed, Japan announced
on August 12 that it too would flout the
International Whaling Commission by taking
an “exception” to the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary, created in May. A similar
announcement was expected from Russia.
While Norway for the second year
unilaterally set a commercial whaling quota,
breaking the IWC moratorium on commercial
whaling in effect since 1986, Japan formally
objected to the inclusion of minke whales as a
protected species within the newly created
sanctuary, which includes 80% of the known
minke whale habitat: all waters south of the
40th parallel except for a dip around South
America. The objection means Japan will
proceed with plans for a so-called scientific
hunt of 300 minke whales within the sanctu-

ary, whose meat will be sold after cursory
study. Japan also intends to kill 100 minke
whales in the northern hemisphere for reasons
of “science,” who will be the first whales
known to be killed in the north Pacific since
Japan joined the IWC moratorium in 1988.
Though not at evident risk of extinc-
tion, unlike the larger whales, minkes were
included within the sanctuary definitions to
keep whaling ships out of the area altogether,
as a safeguard against poaching, which has
mainly occurred to serve the Japanese market.
According to an August 16 alert
issued by the Washington D.C.-based
Antarctica Project, the Russian government
also “recently indicated it may file a formal
objection to the agreement. Because Russia
already holds an objection to the global mora-
torium on commercial whaling, an objection
to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
would open up the possibility of a resumption
of commercial whaling. This could include
direct competition with Japanese poachers
whose fishing near the disputed Kurile
Islands drew gunfire on August 16 from a
Russian patrol boat.
Falsified records
Continued the Antarctica Project
warning, “Russia was one of 23 nations that
voted for the sanctuary; Japan was the only
nation opposed. Now it appears that the
Russian government is succumbing to pres-
sure both from Japan and its own fisheries
and foreign ministries. Most of the pressure
for this policy reversal has come from the
former Soviet Fisheries Minister, Mr. V.
Kamentsev, who was largely responsible in
the past for the near extermination of endan-
gered populations by Soviet whalers, and the
forging of whale kill statistics given to the
IWC. Mr. Kamentsev now heads the All-
Russian Association of Fish Enterprises
(Owners and Exporters), which wrote to
Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomirdin
urging him to reverse Russia’s support for the
sanctuary. The Russian foreign ministry,
reportedly under strong pressure from the
Japanese, also appealed to the government to
reverse its position.”
Earlier this year, Soviet officials
disclosed that throughout the 1960s and
1970s, Soviet factory ships killed as many as
100 times as many whales as they reported,
including protected right whales and blue
whales. Much of the meat was sold to
Japan––which now provides significant eco-
nomic aid to Russia, and reportedly threat-
ened to cancel funding for an urgently needed
nuclear waste storage site if Russia backed
the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Even without a Russian decision to
resume whaling, the Japanese refusal to
honor the sanctuary all but negated the argu-
ment of the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, Greenpace, and the World Wildlife
Fund in public debate last spring that the
sanctuary designation would stop Japanese
whaling in the Antarctic, and would make
any commercial whaling unprofitable. To
get the sanctuary, IFAW, Greenpeace, and
WWF urged other groups to join them in
conceding passage of a Revised Management
Plan supported by U.S. president Bill Clinton
and vice president Albert Gore that could
lead to resumed commercial whaling by 1996
even if Japan and Russia don’t exploit the
IWC “exceptions” clause.
Making plain that the U.S. govern-
ment will not firmly oppose whaling,
Clinton and Gore in effect told the world that
commercial whaling could resume with
impunity––as Norway demonstrated. Further
weakening the U.S. stance, Clinton stated on
October 3, 1993, that trade sanctions against
Norway were in order because of the illegal
resumption of commercial whaling; but with
a politically potent $625 million missile sale
to Norway pending––as ANIMAL PEOPLE
reported in June and July/August––he said
nothing this year.
No whale cops
Australia registered diplomatic
protests against both Norway and Japan.
Other leading nations were silent.
That left international law enforce-
ment up to the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society and Greenpeace, eager to re-estab-
lish an anti-whaling profile after an internal
document stating that “Greenpeace, in prin-
ciple, does not oppose whaling” got wide
circulation during the RMP debate.
Together, their high seas harassment of the
Norwegian fleet throughout July most proba-
bly cost Norway far more than the economic
value of the whale meat. The shaky
Norwegian government of Gro Harlem
Brundtland won political points at home for
defending a national tradition, but made few
friends abroad as Greenpeace aired videotape
of a struggling harpooned whale, while the
damaged Sea Shepherd flagship W h a l e s
Forever made a dramatic run to the Shetland
Islands after a high-speed collision with the
Norwegian coast guard vessel Andennes.
The month of confrontation began
on a sour note when IFAW took out a full-
page ad in the June 28 edition of T h e
Washington Post to thank Gore for purported-
ly saving the whales by brokering the cre-
ation of the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary. This is the same Al Gore who last
October 5 virtually assured Brundtland that
the U.S. would find a way for Norway to con-
tinue whaling, according to a White House
meeting transcript obtained and distributed by
the Animal Welfare Institute in May––and
the same Al Gore who was target of an anti-
whaling protest led by Greenpeace and the
World Wildlife Fund on the eve of the IWC
meeting, to make sure their strategy of
silence about the RMP to obtain the Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary didn’t backfire.
As the IFAW ad went to press,
Norway announced the slaughter of the first
50 of 301 whales to be killed––189 for “sci-
ence,” 112 openly for meat.
Getting the heave
The toll rose to 70 before Sea
Shepherd captain Paul Watson, delayed by a
June 6 explosion and fire while refueling,
was even able to get the Whales Forever out
of harbor at Ijmuiden, The Netherlands, on
July 1. Norway nonetheless focused surveil-
lance on Watson, while five Greenpeace
demonstrators used rubber dinghies to sneak
aboard the S e n e t––a symbol of Norwegian
determination to whale, having been scuttled
at dockside by Sea Shepherd members on
January 24, but refloated a few days later.
“Five people climbed on board and
sat down close to the harpoon,” Greenpeace
spokesperson Geir Wang-Andersen recount-
ed. “After a short while, the crew came out
and threw one of our members into the sea.”
The other four jumped into the sea voluntari-
ly, Wang-Andersen added, and made their
getaway as a Norwegian patrol boat tried
unsuccessfully to ram one of the dinghies.
The ramming
By July 4, the 187-footW h a l e s
Forever and the mini-submarine it carries,
The Mirage, were halfway to the Lofoten
Islands, scene of the whaling, with a crew of
20 plus 13 reporters. The Norwegians, after
laughing off the first Greenpeace action,
were getting nervous. They knew the capa-
bilities of both Sea Shepherd vessels: both
were acquired from Norway through a bogus
corporation Watson set up in Belize. “They
even painted the submarine yellow for us,”
Watson laughed. “It was designed for harbor
penetration,” he added, with a range of
about 100 miles, the ability to dive to 1,000
feet, and able to remain submerged with a
two-member crew for up to three days.
Norway responded by declaring the whaling
ships to be in Norwegian territory, giving its
coast guard authority to intercept any vessels
that might interfere with whaling. If the
Whales Forever could be stopped, Norway
could arrest both Watson and colleague Lisa
DiStefano as fugitives, both having been
convicted in absentia and sentenced to four
months in jail––long enough to keep them
iced through the whaling season––for their
roles in scuttling the whaler Nybraenain
December 1992.
At about 8:00 a.m. Norwegian time
on July 6, the Whales Forever purportedly
entered Norwegian waters near Vestfjorden
while en route to pick up and debate
spokesperson George Blichtfield of the pro-
whaling High North Alliance. Blichtfield
was to be delivered to the Whales Forever
along with a reporter from the Australian edi-
tion of the television program 60 Minutes.
The Andennes moved to intercept.
Four times the Andennes cut in
front of the Whales Forever, dumping
hawsers (thick ropes) into the sea in an
attempt to foul the Sea Shepherd propellers.
Four times Watson cut his main props, using
his gill-jet bow-thruster to turn sharply to
starboard. “Captain Watson is very much
aware that a move to starboard is contrary to
the rules of the road,” Watson wrote in his
log afterward, referring to himself in the
third person. “However, Captain Watson
believed the immediate threat to the security
of his ship from an aggressive attack negated
adherance.” The faster Andennes, under full
power, three times avoided contact––and
then the fourth time varied the maneuver,
swinging hard to port.
Continued Watson’s log, “The
Norwegian vessel is moving at over 20 knots.
The Whales Forever is moving at .4 knots
sideways with the bowthruster…The
A n d e n n e s strikes the Whales Forever at full
speed, ripping away the bow and crushing
our petrol compartment. Deckhand Frederik
Shelver was standing on the bow and man-
aged to jump clear. Lisa DiStefano and Marc
Gaede,” whose photos appear on this page,
“were on the deck in front of the wheelhouse.
Forty litres of gasoline ruptured and spilled
on the deck. Fortunately the intense heat of
the impact did not ignite the gasoline. Our
bow net cutter severed the hawser. Captain
Watson immediately ordered a fire team to
the bow to wash away the gasoline. Another
damage control team began work to free the
props from the hawser,” which the Whales
Forever this time struck.
Andennes captain Lars-Petter Berg-
Hansen claimed the Whales Forever rammed
his ship––but Gaede’s photographs, photos
by others who were aboard, and film taken
from the bridge of the Whales Forever by
Australian Broadcasting Corporation camera-
man Derek McCurdy all confirm that the
Andennes did the ramming, hitting the
Whales Forever near the point of the bow.
“Initially,” German media reported,
“the Whales Forever appeared to be disabled
and sitting dead in the water, but subsequent-
ly she was seen heading undaunted on her
original course toward international waters
and the Shetland Islands.”
The Andennes stood off for an hour,
apparently expecting a surrender, while the
Whales Forever disentangled itself.
According to an emergency Sea Shepherd
bulletin, “Crew of the Andennes announced
over the radio to Captain Watson that they
would employ, ‘whatever force is necessary’
to stop the Sea Shepherd vessel. Captain
Watson asked if that included killing environ-
mentalists in international waters, and the
Andennes commander Lars Saunes respond-
ed, ‘Norway is willing to use whatever
means we need to take your ship under
arrest.’”
Shots, mines
At 1:25 p.m. the Andennes fired a
warning shot, which landed about 60 feet to
the starboard of the Whales Forever. “One
cold grenade was fired a safe distance from
the ship,” said Berg-Hansen. The Whales
Forever ignored it. Again according to
Watson’s log, “The Andennes radios that
they will fire upon the ship. The Norwegian
commander orders Captain Watson to order
his crew to the stern so that he can fire a shell
into the bow. Captain Watson relays the
message to the crew. The crew voluntarily
move to the bow, waist, and stern to take a
stand against the Norwegian gun…the second
shot passes over the wheelhouse and lands 30
meters to the port side midship…The
Norwegian commander orders Captain
Watson to evacuate his engine room so that
he can fire a shot into the engine compart-
ment. Captain Watson refuses.”
Apparently intending to board the
Whales Forever at first opportunity, the
A n d e n n e s maintained pursuit. Sea Shepherd
meanwhile tried to ask the U.S. government
to request that Norway cease the attack.
“When a Sea Shepherd office vol-
unteer called the American Embassy in
Norway and stated who she was and what
organization she was calling for, the line was
disconnected,” Sea Shepherd staffer Carla
Robinson said. “When she called again, the
woman who answered––with a thick
accent––said ‘well why don’t you go home?’,
put us on hold for a long time, and then the
line was again disconnected. On her third
call, the volunteer asked, ‘I have the
American Embassy, don’t I? And you are
supposed to help Americans, right?’ The
woman said, ‘Yes. Well, what do you want
us to do? According to the Norwegian
authorities, you are in Norwegian waters, so
leave o u r waters.’ The volunteer asked if it
mattered what waters an American citizen in
distress is in, and again was disconnected.”
The volunteer was Nancy
DiStefano, mother of Lisa DiStefano, who
was talking to Lisa via ship-to-shore tele-
phone when the shots were fired, and admit-
ed that she’d gotten the scare of her life.
Eventually Sea Shepherd did reach
the U.S. State Department––which told
Nancy DiStefano that the U.S. supported
Norway and that the Whales Forever was in
Norwegian waters. Upon receipt of that mes-
sage, at 2:54 p.m., Watson ordered a flare
fired to establish the ship’s actual position.
The flare was photographed by an Icelandic
weather satelite. The action was pro forma;
challenging the Norwegian claims would
have put the U.S. on thin ice, since the U.S.
has likewise stretched maritime law to inter-
cept suspected drug smugglers and Haitian
refugees in international waters.
At 4:30 p.m., continued Watson’s
log, “A small inflatable boat is dispatched
from the Andennes with three crew members.
The small boat approached the W h a l e s
F o r e v e r and proceeded to drop four depth
charges in front of the bow. On the first pass,
the crew fumbled a depth charge and dropped
it into their own boat. If the depth charge had
exploded in the boat and injured or killed the
Norwegians, the blame would most certainly
have fallen on us and the A n d e n n e s m i g h t
have sunk us. The depth charges were felt by
all crew on board the Whales Forever.” Built
as a seismic research vessel, the double-
hulled Whales Forever withstood all four
blasts, but took on water.
The Whales Forever limped to the
Shetland port of Lerwick for repairs, as the
Andennes fell back. Out of action but points
made, Watson spent the next month giving
interviews––variously promising to either dis-
rupt the annual pilot whale slaughter in the
Faroe Islands, or to again confront drag-
netters off eastern Canada as he did last year.
One whale saved
Greenpeace was still in the North
Sea. On July 10, the Greenpeace ship Sirius
sent crew members in two rubber dinghies to
again harass the Senet––their third such mis-
sion in nine days. This time, however, the
S e n e t harpooned a minke whale as the
Greenpeace video cameras were rolling. The
whale was hit in the dorsal fin, far from any
vital organs, said Greenpeace campaigner
Stefan Flothmann, and seemed to have a
good chance of surviving. The Greenpeacers
cut the harpoon wire. The wounded whale
dived and vanished.
Late that evening the Norwegian
coast guard boarded the Sirius, arrested nine
crew members, and towed the vessel to the
port of Egersund. Crew member Paul
Horsman said the Sirius surrendered because,
“The situation was becoming very dangerous.
The coast guard’s behavior was violent and
aggressive.” Horsman, fellow British citizen
Paul McGee, and Dutch captain Ron van der
Horst were charged with depriving the Senet
of a whale whose estimated cash value was
150,000 crowns ($22,189). The Senet report-
edly also filed a civil suit against Greenpeace.
“The wire was cut in international
waters,” responded Flothmann. “They
would first have to prove that the whale was
being legally hunted before they could claim
that the whale belonged to the Senet.”
The Greenpeace members were
released on July 12, but one dinghy was held
as evidence. Norwegian whaling tycoon
Steinar Bastesen was irate that Greenpeace
faced no more serious retaliation. “The only
penalty I know for piracy is death,” he
asserted, suggesting the Greenpeacers should
be made to walk the plank.
The Senet finally killed its first
whale of the year that evening. Three
Norwegian coast guard vessels stood guard as
a Greenpeace helicopter hovered overhead,
shooting video. At dawn on the 13th, a sec-
ond Greenpeace ship, the Solo, closed in on
the Senet, dispatching five crew members in
two inflatable dinghies. All five were soon
arrested, but by then the Sirius was back.
Greenpeace actions continued.
Fourteen protesters were fined on July 20 for
blockading government offices in Oslo, and
the Solo was forced into port at Egersund to
face charges on July 23.
At least one influential Norwegian
maritime family denounced the whaling––the
Klosters, owners of Kloster Cruise Limited,
whose three divisions include the Norwegian
Cruise Line, the Royal Viking Line, and the
Royal Cruise Line. “In no way do we support
commercial whaling,” chairman and chief
executive officer Knut Kloster Jr. stated.
“Kloster Cruise Limited is committed to pre-
serving the integrity of the marine world.”
But Clinton and Gore still said
nothing.
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