Australia: Whaling War of Words

The whale hunt seems to be the forgotten war in the public relations hype that surrounds the collision of the Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gil with a Japanese whaler.

The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has vowed to continue the fight against whaling in the Southern Ocean after a Japanese boat struck one of its vessels.

Sea Shepherd says Japanese security ship Shonan Maru 2 has sheared off the bow of the Ady Gil, its high-speed carbon fibre boat.

Japanese whalers are also accused of using Australian charter planes to spy on the whereabouts of Sea Shepherd vessels.

‘Willful’ attack escalates anti-whaling war

The bloggers’ focus in Australia has been the maritime clash and its reporting by the media.

Strange Times’ youngmarxist was amongst the first to have issues, questioning the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reporting:

The Australian ABC has reported, as fact, allegations by the anti-whaling organisation Sea Shepherd that a Japanese whaling boat, the Shonan Maru 2, today deliberately sunk the Sea Shepherd vessel the Adi Gil.

… It’s clear that the ABC has failed to report both sides of this story and is acting in this case as Sea Shepherd’s propaganda arm, rather than seeking out the statements presented in this post and giving people the information they need to start making their own conclusions.

BREAKING: Video of collision between Sea Shepherd’s Adi Gil and Japanese whaling boat

The Punch’s Tory Maguire is concerned about the risk to people’s lives by this orchestrated stoush in the Southern Ocean:

We’re not big on vigilantes in this nation, which has an imperfect but workable system of the rule of law, enforced by publicly funded police. Yet for some reason the ridiculous antics currently under way off the tip of Antarctica are allowed to carry on unchecked, and have prompted a frenzy of boys-own-adventure cheering here at home.

With perhaps just a touch of irony as a Murdoch staffer, she suggests a lack of objectivity in the mainstream media coverage:

Whomever is ultimately responsible for the sinking of the Ady Gil yesterday afternoon, it was highly irresponsible of the Sea Shepherd organisation to put the crew in such danger. But there was Mr Watson on the ABC this morning being hailed a hero for protecting the whales from the Japanese factory ships. He was also on Macquarie Radio, no doubt Fairfax radio, most TV stations and in every newspaper.

Sea Shepherd is going to get someone killed

At Ambit Gambit, Graham Young is even more pointed in his criticism of the media . Firstly he disputes the accuracy of reports that the Ady Gil was “stationary”:

Sea Shepherds claim that the Adi Gil was in reverse when hit. It may have been, but this was after it put itself in front of the Shonan Maru.

That journalists represent this as the Japanese ramming the Sea Sheperds is a result of clever manipulation by the Sea Shepherds.

Graham also attacks what he sees as similar bias:

Fairfax newspapers ran a story saying that the Japanese had hired planes in Australia to track the Sea Shepherds. Instead of asking why the Sea Shepherds were allowed to use Australian ports to carry out acts of piracy in the Antarctic without hindrance (or surveillance) from the Australian government, the news stories, and the government response, condemned the Japanese.

Confirmation bias rams Japanese

Meanwhile political debate in Australia centres on what the Rudd government should do about the continuing presence of whalers in Australian waters:

AUSTRALIA should send the Oceanic Viking to monitor clashes between whalers and the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd vessels, which were operating “at the very limit and edge of the law”.

An international law expert at the Australian National University, Professor Donald Rothwell, told The Australian Online that despite claims whalers had rammed the Ady Gill, it was clear “provocative” behaviour was involved on the part of the anti-whaling protesters.

Whaling protest boats operating at edge of law: Donald Rothwell

The same article in The Australian newspaper has an online poll ‘WHALING SHOWDOWN': Who do you think is to blame for the collision between a Japanese whaling ship and Sea Shepherd protest boat?

Whalers and Protesters are the only choices.


  • This discussion requires us to consider deeply our notions of nonviolent direct action. My long-held political and moral conviction is that violence is only possible against people. Destruction of property is not violence.

    Sea Shepherd has often been accused of being ‘renegades’, ‘vigilantes’, ‘ecoterrorists’. So is ‘provocation’ violence?

    Urgent issues require urgent tactics. No govt or NGO really supports saving the whales.

    Only Sea Shepherd has the moral high ground by actually saving whales. Nonviolent direct action entails risks, including risk of death. Every Sea Shepherd is well aware of those risks.

  • Good follow up article by Andrew Bartlett on Saturday:

    “…the collision that caused the sinking of the Ady Gil has provided plenty of opportunity for those whose aim is to inflame rather than inform, to indulge their bent for petty propaganda. It is understandable that the whalers and the environmentalists will engage in exaggerations and distortions, because they know the publicity battle is half the war. But plenty of people like to indulge in the same sort of things to push their own ideological barrows.” (Pressure builds in whaling conflict)

  • […] diritto anglo-americano) per l'affondamento della nave del Sea Shepherd avvenuto un mese prima (notizia riportata [in] su Global Voices da Kevin […]


    It is certainly the responsibility of the reader to determine whose fault the collision is, as neither party is about to step up and provide an objective recollection of the events. In the end, its going to come down to what the reader’s bias is concerning the issue as a whole, whether or not they support Japan’s right to whaling industry, or if they believe that the entire whaling economy in Japan is entirely corrupt. I tend to side with the latter. We’ve all seen numerous examples of endangered whales being served for dinner, and obvious covers for governmental whaling for the sake of “scientific research.” It’s impossible for me to decipher who was the aggressor in this situation, but if this follows the protocol set by history, I’d say the Japanese whalers cannot be trusted.

  • […] китоловци еден месец пред овој настан (како што претходно информира Кевин Рени за Global Voices). Ади Гил на Flickr од: […]

  • […] un arestament civil del capità per haver enfonsat el vaixell de Sea Sheperd un mes abans (tal com va reportar anteriorment a Global Voices Kevin […]

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