Forest Rescue activists Geoffrey Tuxworth, Simon Peterffy and Glen Pendlebury will not be charged with any crime and will not be taken to Japan. Our persistence in pointing to the evidence of where the boarding took place (inside the contiguous zone) and our persistence in pointing out what a travesty this is and how it reflects on the Labor Party certainly contributed to this decision. The Australian government is sending a ship to remove the three men from the Shonan Maru #2 as it heads towards the coast of Antarctica in pursuit of us on the Steve Irwin. It was a courageous operation, once again focusing international attention on the illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Well done Geoffrey, Simon and Glen. As Senator Bob Brown said yesterday, the three of you are Australian heroes.
– Captain Paul Watson
Frequently Asked Questions about the Incident
Question: Why did Sea Shepherd decide to board the Shonan Maru #2?
Captain Paul Watson: The answer to that is that we didn’t make any such decision. This was an initiative from Forest Rescue Australia. They asked for our support and we provided it. This was a grassroots response to the lack of action by the Australian government to get tough with illegal whaling, something they promised to do just prior to being elected and something they have only paid lip service to ever since. When governments fail to live up to their promises, the people who voted for them seek the means to redress such broken promises and to express their grievances.
Question: Before boarding the Shonan Maru #2 you told the three men that the chances of being transported to Japan were slim. How could you have been so sure?
Captain Paul Watson: No government can afford to have their nation seen as being walked over. To take citizens from the territorial waters of any nation to a jail in another nation when not at war is for the most part unacceptable. Like it or not, the government of Australia has a moral obligation to represent their citizens. Despite my grievances with this present government, Australia is still a strong democratic and proud nation. My assessment was, as it was a few years ago when we first had crew board a Japanese whaler, that they would be released and not taken back to Japan.
Question: But you were wrong about that in the case of Pete Bethune. He was taken back to Japan and put on trial. Why was that different?
Captain Paul Watson: My assessment at the time, and what I conveyed to Pete Bethune at the time, was that he should not board the Shonan Maru #2. Why? Because he was a New Zealander and I knew that the New Zealand government would not stand up to the Japanese. It is essential that anyone boarding a Japanese vessel must be Australian. Another difference is where it occurred. Bethune boarded in the Southern Ocean and the Forest Action team boarded 16 miles off a beach off Western Australia. I advised Bethune that he could be arrested. He said that he was prepared for that. Obviously he wasn’t, but the decision to board was his and it was contrary to my advice.
Question: What do you think of these three men from Forest Rescue and what were forest activists doing boarding a Japanese whaling ship?
Captain Paul Watson: Senator Bob Brown called Geoffrey Tuxworth, Simon Peterffy and Glen Pendlebury real Australian heroes and I agree wholeheartedly. They are brave and dedicated activists who understand the connection between the forests and the seas, between the trees and the whales. They also see hypocrisy and contradiction in the government’s failure to defend both the forests and the whales.
Question: Do you think that this was a successful operation? What did you gain by it? How did it help defend the whales?
Captain Paul Watson: I think it was enormously successful. It focused international media attention on Japan’s continued illegal whaling activities. It was big news. It demonstrated Australian grassroots intervention. It was a worthwhile attempt to throw the Shonan Maru #2 off the tail of the Steve Irwin. And most importantly, it totally humiliated the Japanese security operation. This is the vessel that Japan assigned as security for the whaling fleet as part of the $28 million dollars allocated for protecting the whalers from us. And yet three unarmed Australian citizens were able to board it despite the stakes, razor wire barricades and armed Coast Guard officers onboard. This is a terrible loss of face for the security people, for the crew of the Shonan Maru #2 and for the Japanese whaling industry.
Question: The Prime Minister and the Attorney General both have said this will cost the Australian taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a ship meet up with the Shonan Maru #2 to recover the three men. They suggested that Sea Shepherd should contribute to this cost? Is this a fair request?
Captain Paul Watson: It is an absurd request. This was not a Sea Shepherd initiative and it could have been avoided if the government had done its job and held up the promises it made before they were elected to end whaling in the Southern Ocean. Besides, all of these costs could easily be avoided. The Japanese need only transfer the three men to the Steve Irwininstead of having an expensive ship come out from Australia to retrieve them. They did not even consider that option and they never discussed any options with Sea Shepherd. This is a government plan and if they want to do it this way then they can pay for it. Why should Sea Shepherd pay for government incompetence?