Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Minke Sushi


Webhosting Special Deal- NZ$25 ex-GST per month!!! Contact Spectator for more...

First published on Spectator.co.nz… Note to readers: the conclusion in this column is clearly open for debate... For alternative views that challenge this conclusion, click on the image.

Minke Sushi – Point of View with Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Some issues are so black and white they are never examined, let alone criticized. Like whaling. It’s obvious that every pro whaler is bad and all anti whalers are good. That’s why, when a guy like Paul Watson, the icon of anti-whalers weighs anchor in Auckland Harbour we welcome him unquestionably.

Editor's note:
Greenpeace states: “Overturning the ban on whaling would be
devastating to the world's whales, which are just beginning
to recover from years of exploitation. Whales mature and
breed slowly, thus populations are slow to recover.
Furthermore, whales are already jeopardised by a number of
human-induced environmental threats, such as toxic pollution
and climate change.” For more, click on this image...Watson who describes his conservation group, Sea Shepherd, as a self-appointed policing organization for whalekind is famous for his Robin Hood like tactics. To make sure whalers and any fisherman breaking Sea Shepherds rules get the message he sails up close, flouting international sailing conventions and declares them under arrest. When they ignore him he begins his campaign of harassment, including water cannons, firing gunpowder and his piece de resistance; the "can opener", a tool apparently capable of ripping open the steel hulls of ships, a technique that has often lead to boat sinkings and a number of close calls for sailors.

Excuse me, but am I missing something here? Here’s a known saboteur, a man the Norwegians call a terrorist and whose organization is said to have solid links to the frightening Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and whose activities come under the FBI’s Animal Enterprise Terrorism watch floating happily in Auckland Harbour.

As if that isn’t enough Watson has been branded a blatant racist by Native peoples across North America. Not only for his attempts to stop the legal capture of a Grey Whale by the Makah Indian tribe but for his writings, where, using discredited and racist anthropological models he argues racism is a mere ‘human triviality.’

Then there are the criminal convictions. Watson, who claims he speaks on behalf of the Cetacean nation, has served time in several foreign prisons. Holland sentenced him to 120 days of unconditional imprisonment for attempting to scuttle a whaling vessel in 1992. He’s been charged with criminal damages after steering another of his ships into a Coast Guard vessel in 1994, he’s been accused of transmitting false alarm signals and for illegal entry into Norwegian territorial waters. He’s had multiple arrests on criminal mischief charges and recently faced attempted murder charges and criminal charges for ramming a Costa Rican fishing boat.

With such a list of unlawful activity, the presence on board of a ‘powder’ used to fire his deck mounted canon, not to mention his tools designed to facilitate the sinking of another vessel, it seems remarkable that Auckland police have done no more than pay a cursory visit.

But, you reason, he is saving the whales. Well that may not be all it seems either.

At few decades ago Watson’s crusade did make sense. Commercial whaling had devastated many whale breeds, pushing some to the point of extinction. But today the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service estimates there are more than two million sperm whales worldwide. The International Whaling Commission calculated years ago that there were more than 900,000 minke whales and 780,000 pilot whales worldwide, and the numbers are higher now. Milton Freeman, a whaling expert at the University of Alberta, estimates that the number of minke whales has trebled over 30 years and that humpbacks are exploding at a rate of 12 to 17 percent annually.

And the Makah hunt Watson tried to shut down? That’s been a part of the culture for 2000 years. Deeply embedded in spiritual and cultural traditions the Makah’s carefully managed hunt poses no threat whatsoever to the conservation of the Pacific Gray whale as their own rules forbid the killing of more than 20 whales every five years (or an average of four whales a year) from a stock estimated to be at around 20,000.
Writing recently in the New York Times Nicholas D. Kristof commented that while most large whales remain at risk, for some species we can no longer argue that we need to ‘save the whales.’ They've been saved. He adds that whales now eat at least 300 million tons of marine life, three times as much as humans and there’s speculation that rising numbers of minke whales may be holding down the population of blue whales that compete for similar food.

So is Paul Watson really the Robin Hood of conservation? I don’t think so.

Watson’s crusade is not about the protection of endangered species. It’s about one obsessive man with a cause. Certainly it’s a cause that wins the feel-good prize, but one that ultimately doesn’t stack up. And even if it did have merit beyond our romantic need to feel connected to another species, his actions are still criminal. Imagine if Watson were using New Zealand as his base for other terrorist activity, say blowing up buildings, would we have welcomed him to our shores? Under the spurious cover of animal rights we seem to have suspended our common sense and allowed this extremist to set up shop in Auckland Harbour trading his propaganda, touting for new recruits and planning his next attack.

So think about it. Does the end justify his means? And should those of us who, nonetheless support that end, ignore the means of a fanatic who believes animals have equal rights with humans and is willing to go to any lengths to promote his cause? Minke sushi anyone?

© Barbara Sumner Burstyn, August 2002

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Julian Assange: A Thousand Days In Belmarsh
Julian Assange has now been in the maximum-security facilities of Belmarsh prison for over 1,000 days. On the occasion of his 1,000th day of imprisonment, campaigners, supporters and kindred spirits gathered to show their support, indignation and solidarity at this political detention most foul... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Mauling Of Novak Djokovic
Rarely can the treatment of a grand sporting figure by officialdom have caused such consternation. Novak Djokovic, the tennis World Number One, has always had a tendency to get under skin and constitution, creating a large following of admirers and detractors. But his current treatment by Australian authorities, and his subsequent detention as an unlawful arrival despite being granted a visa to participate in the Australian Open, had the hallmarks of oppression and incompetent vulgarity... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Voices Of Concern: Aussies For Assange’s Return

With Julian Assange now fighting the next stage of efforts to extradite him to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 of which are based on the brutal, archaic Espionage Act, some Australian politicians have found their voice. It might be said that a few have even found their conscience... More>>



Forbidden Parties: Boris Johnson’s Law On Illegal Covid Gatherings

It was meant to be time to reflect. The eager arms of a new pandemic were enfolding a society with asphyxiating, lethal effect. Public health authorities advocated various measures: social distancing, limited contact between family and friends, limited mobility. No grand booze-ups. No large parties. No bonking, except within dispensations of intimacy and various “bubble” arrangements. Certainly, no orgies... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Question Time Is Anything But
The focus placed on the first couple of Question Time exchanges between the new leader of the National Party and the Prime Minister will have seemed excessive to many but the most seasoned Parliamentary observers. Most people, especially those outside the Wellington beltway, imagine Question Time is exactly what it sounds... More>>



Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>