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An Odyssey for the Whales

By September 9, 2012No Comments

“Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.”
— William Shakespeare, “Henry V”


Photo: Barbara Veiga

It is September 10th and I have been free from Germany now for 50 days.

I can’t say that it has been unpleasant. As a matter of fact I don’t think that I have had the opportunity to enjoy nature so much in years. The number of species that I have seen up close in person over the last month and a half has been awesome and to me that is the true value of being alive – to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the natural world, to be amongst the dolphins and whales, seals and turtles, birds and fish, to experience life above, upon, and below that great and mysterious cradle of life we know as the sea.

And to see the stars at night, the broad infinite sparkling belt of light twinkling mysteriously from the past, to see meteors burning into fiery dust in the sky, the green flash of the sun as it dips into the sea, a cloud burst showering the decks with the crystal clear lifeblood of the Earth.

Sometimes we forget just what it is we defend and it is refreshing to be reminded about what it is all about, what really counts, what really matters.

It has been a sad month for me with the loss of my beloved brother Stephen. I regret that I was not able to attend the service for him but when we did speak I was so impressed at his lack of fear, his incredible optimism and his love for his family and for the world. He has always been and will always be a great inspiration to me.  He asked me to bring his ashes to Antarctica and I intend to do so.

He was an artist and that is a special kind of warrior.

Operation Zero Tolerance is proceeding according to schedule thanks to the excellent leadership by Captains Peter Hammarstedt, Locky MacLean, Alex Cornelissen, Malcolm Holland and Sid Chakavarty, and to the dedicated efforts of all the ships’ officers and crew and all the onshore crew of volunteers around the world working to get our ships out to sea come December to intercept the Japanese whaling fleet before they begin their merciless slaughter of the whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Steve Irwin was very well received at Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia last week and is now heading back to Williamstown for final preparations. The Bob Barker is in Sydney completing preparations and the Brigitte Bardot is returning from anti-poaching patrols in the South Pacific.

Our African team under Laurens De Groot has just completed a very successful campaign to protect fur seals in Namibia and our South Pacific shark campaign under the direction of Julie Andersen has just completed an awesomely successful campaign in Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

Sea Shepherd Australia director Jeff Hansen along with Operation Kimberly Miinimbi campaign leader Bob Brown had an excellent Southern Hemisphere winter voyage to Northwestern Australia where they not only brought international attention to the threats against the nursing grounds of the Humpback whale from the gas industry, they actually helped to get Chevron to withdraw from the project.

Now you don’t accomplish all these things without making enemies and Sea Shepherd has some very powerful enemies and these enemies have very deep pockets.

In June we won our case against the Maltese company Fish and Fish, for intervening against their poaching of Bluefin tuna. The British courts ordered them to pay our legal fees and our bond of 520,000 pounds was to be returned. The attorney for Fish and Fish filed for an appeal saying “We will get him, we just need to keep throwing money at him.”

This means we now need to wait until December for a verdict on the appeal and of course more legal fees. That’s okay, we can be patient.

In March, Sea Shepherd won the case against the Japanese whalers when the U.S. Courts rejected their demand for an injunction to prevent us from intervening against their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. They also have appealed, forcing us to spend more money on legal fees.

And there are the bogus charges against me by Costa Rica and Japan.

Japan has been allocated $30 million U.S. from the Tsunami Relief Fund to attack us through litigation, public relations campaigns and increased security measures.

Using donated funds and tax dollars, the Japanese are using litigation as a weapon. This is not surprising. The Japanese whaling industry and the Japanese government have been humiliated by Sea Shepherd activities and Japanese pride and stubbornness is legendary. After all, to this day Japan still refuses to accept responsibility for the Rape of Nanking, continuing to insist that the atrocities never took place and they have of course never apologized to China for that horrific crime.

We have reduced the entire Japanese whaling industry to a welfare project surviving only because of massive government subsidies. We have also exposed their illegal whaling activities to the entire world through our campaigns being televised on Whale Wars. And most important of all our achievements is the fact that more than 4,000 whales are alive that would now be dead if not for our interventions.

And because these people only believe in money, they actually think that forcing us to spend money will hurt us. They see money as an end in itself, something to be sought after no matter the cost to nature, to life and the future.

We on the other hand see money as a tool, the means to get where we need to go to stop what we need to put a stop to. Money to us is merely a resource to defend life.

Our enemies will not break us in the field, in the courts or financially because we will continue to fight them with nothing if need be and from inside a jail cell if we must, but backing down to their vicious greed and ruthless destruction is something we will never do.

So I may be on the run but I can say that I am quite content with what we have been able to do, what we continue to do and what we intend to do.

All sailors know that a voyage is a venture into the unknown and that circumstances change and unpredictability is always something that can with certainty be predicted. Dangers lie over every horizon and beneath the waves and from within the clouds.

We navigate these passages with three basic instruments. Courage. Imagination. And most importantly – passion.

If beaten down, we get back up. If disappointed, we carry on, and if we die in pursuit of our goals, we bequeath a legacy of inspiration.

There is a time and a place for strategic decisions and I believe at some point I will make myself available to answer the ridiculous charges from Japan and Costa Rica, but presently my priorities lie in seeing Operation Zero Tolerance deployed as Sea Shepherd returns to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary once again.

The Japanese believe that if they can prevent me from leading the next campaign that they will be able to stop our ships returning to the Southern Ocean. It won’t, of course, but it is my duty to do all that I can to return to my flagship to take command of the campaign, but if prevented from doing so, the chain of command within Sea Shepherd will carry on the interventions.

And we will be returning stronger than ever before, more experienced than ever before, and more determined than ever before.

And for all those wondering where I am, the answer is that I am simply free and focused on preparing Operation Zero Tolerance. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a global organization with onshore support groups worldwide and of course our theatre of operation is that part of the planet covered in salt water, which also happens to be the last true bastion of freedom in the world.

Sea Shepherd is the ocean and the ocean is Sea Shepherd and no matter how remote our position, how high and vast the seas, how strong and cold the wind, how frigid the water, we are at home and safe within the sanctuary provided by this great and mysterious rolling blue grey shroud of our ocean, the cradle of all life and the most important environment upon this planet, for if it dies, we all die.

And therefore with the Southern Cross to guide me, I intend to rejoin the Sea Shepherd fleet and once more my hearties it is into the breach to once again intervene and confront those dark-hearted killers of the greatest minds in the sea.

We have saved the lives of more than 4,000 of these magnificent sentient wondrous intelligent beings in the Southern Ocean. I intend to see that we defend and protect another thousand.

I would like to ask your help in doing so.

We have the ships. We have the equipment. We have the experience and we have a passionate and courageous crew of volunteers.

What we need is fuel to get us there, to keep us there and to return.

We need at total of 1,200 tons of fuel to get our ships to sea, allowing them to shut down the Japanese whaling fleet for the entire whaling season.

Twelve thousand tons of fuel at $1,250 a ton, which means about $1.5 million dollars.

This is the amount we need to raise and we can easily do that if everyone who cares for the lives of the whales donates something towards this objective.

When we needed $750,000 to free the Steve Irwin from the Scottish courts, we raised it within ten days because we have a worldwide support base of people who care.

And because you care, I am confident we can reach this goal over the next two months, and in return for your investment in this campaign, we will return the gift of life in the form of living whales swimming free in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

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