Home' Ausmarine : December 2010 Contents I can’t for the life of me understand what the Japanese
Government has been thinking of or trying to achieve by
giving Pete Bethune, eco-terrorist of ‘Sea Shepherd’, a two-year
When one deals with zealots and irrational people, or
individuals who suffer delusions of grandeur, the outcomes are at
best flawed or can’t be relied on. The result of last season’s whaling
saga reached a conclusion in Japan’s courts in recent months. A
pardon was given to this outrageous zealot from Sea Shepherd,
who hassled Japanese whalers pursuing legal fishing activities. The
Japanese have actually done a disservice to the rest of the world by
being so lenient.
From what I can ascertain from Japanese newspapers,
anti-whaling interests appear to have struck a deal with officials
from the Japanese Governmen, allowing Pete Bethune from New
Zealand to walk free in return for banning him from future protest
expeditions. To give this social fringe dweller a suspended sentence
sends the wrong message to other would-be eco-terrorists wanting
their own five minutes of fame, under the banner of “protecting
whales.” The suspended sentence means he will not go to jail
unless he commits another crime on Japanese soil in the next five
years. Whatever the case, this guy is a criminal who violated
International Law. I ask you, how can you expect people or
organizations to act honourably when they don’t respect the basic
laws of society?
Trespassing (boarding) is a crime, especially on the high seas.
There are NO exceptions; the law is the law. This guy is hiding
behind the emotive subject of whaling. Japanese Prosecutors and
pro-whalers had pushed for a lengthy jail term on four charges of
illegal boarding of the ‘Shoran Maru 11’, but should also have
charged him with assault and interfering with legal fishing
operations. Whatever the case, he should not have been allowed to
go free, but thrown into jail for an extended period for his offences
on the Southern Ocean.
Japan refers to the New Zealander as an eco-terrorist and that is
about right, everybody who is involved must agree that Japan is
correct on this issue. What is the world coming to when anybody
can take the law into their own hands to suit their own needs? Sea
Shepherd has to be condemned and made responsible for its
actions. Pete Bethune had been in custody since February 18 and
when he was released he complained that he had been confined
far too long. It wasn’t long enough if you ask me.
You might say my comments are extreme – not so. I believe in
law and order regardless of the situation. What amazed me most of
all, is the fact that many of the people I spoke to in Australia and
New Zealand had similar views to my own. Sea Shepherd founder
“CAPTAIN” Paul Watson and his crew of novices buggering about
in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean is not good
seamanship and ought to be condemned. I question his suitability
to command a vessel!
International Maritime Law forbids you to board or enter a ship
The Japanese Coast Guard later announced it had successfully
moved that the Sea Shepherd captain, Paul Watson (a Canadian),
would be placed on Interpol’s International “watch list”.
At the time of writing this article, I am in New Zealand
watching with interest the arrival of Pete Bethune back to New
Zealand from his holiday in a Japanese prison.
What struck me in the interview he gave on TV, was that he
quite openly stated that he had no regrets over his actions,
shedding a few crocodile tears, no doubt for the camera.
The Japanese judicial system committed a grave error allowing
this person to leave Japan. He should have been locked up for years
and taught a lesson, as no doubt he and similar individuals will
create more problems in the future.
Another interesting fact is emerging, our Federal Minister for
the Environment, Peter Garrett, wants to take Japan to the
International Court to force Japan to cease whaling. Peter
Garrett is under the mistaken belief that catching whales is
inhumane. Little does the minister realise that Japan has a
historical right, going back some 600 years, to hunt whales. Our
accident prone minister just doesn’t seem to understand the
realities of life. What can happen with our export business with
Japan and also with international politics if such negative moves
like court action, were implemented that would ignite the
passion of the Japanese public? Nobody will stop the Japanese
from hunting whales if such a decision doesn’t come from
within. In the meantime it can cost Australia “mega bucks” in
lost export revenue, but even more, it will cost us “goodwill”. In
our company we have experienced it already – some goodwill is
not forthcoming, compliments of Peter Garrett.
New Zealand refuses to be part of any court action, as does
the US administration. Why, one should ask – the answer is
easy. The US and New Zealand understand the implications of a
long drawn out court action and the effect it could have on
trade (and please don’t tell me it can’t happen. It can!) Anyone
doing their homework will find that in senior management, in
some of Japan’s biggest trading houses, executives began their
careers on whaling vessels. If our foreign diplomats and public
servants have not worked that out, they should not be in their
respective jobs. Our diplomats have at times adopted diplomatic
Some in Australia consider themselves as anti-whaling
by nature, but only a few decades ago we were hunting whales
off Western Australia. Our image as “clean and green” has a
few blemishes; it would help to remember that sometimes it
might prevent us from becoming too loud and self-righteous
The Japanese made a mistake in allowing Pete Bethune to leave
their soil; I hope they won’t regret it.
The whaling debacle
A column of personal opinion by one of Australia’s leading
fishing industry entrepreneurs. Hagen Stehr AO of Port Lincoln.
December 2010 AUSMARINE
06 Kaiser:Layout 1 18/11/10 12:13 PM Page 6
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