On Monday, Wikileaks released documents revealing discussions between U.S. and Japanese officials over plans to weaken Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s anti-whaling efforts.
Sea Shepherd sails the seas every year in an effort to protect whales by interfering with hunts by Japan’s whaling fleets. The documents leaked to Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Monica Medina, the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and senior officials from the Fisheries Agencies of Japan last year discussed stripping Sea Shepherd’s tax-exempt status as a political move to come to an international agreement on the number of whales killed each year.
Japan also wants harsher measures to deal with the alleged “eco-terrorists,” about which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed.
At its meeting in June, the International Whaling Commission failed to reach a compromise between the last three whaling nations and those opposed to it. Since the creation of the IWC, increased opposition to whaling led to the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, and later the creation of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Now, only three of the 88 nations involved, Japan, Norway and Iceland, continue to hunt whales.
Japan could potentially get a legal kill quota if it cuts the numbers killed in the Southern Ocean. Until then Japan continues to use a loop hole in the moratorium, killing whales under the guise of scientific research…in a sanctuary…for whales….where they’re protected by international law.
Providing a legal kill quota to protect whales does not protect whales, it protects whaling. Sea Shepherd is reportedly against anything less than a complete stop to whaling in Antarctica. Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, stated that the “initial agreement was a betrayal by the Obama administration against the whales.”
Katsuhiro Machida, the director general of Japan’s fisheries agency stated that taking action against Sea Shepherd would be a “major element” in international negotiations on kill quotas. This would be the same fisheries agency that was just called out for taking “gifts” of whale meat from whalers.
Medina said she believed “the US government was capable to prove that the group doesn’t deserve its tax-exempt status due to aggressive and harmful actions.”
“Monica Medina of course had no authority to speak on the issue of tax status because she was not authorized to do so by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Department of State,” said Watson.
Watson said in the past Japan has pressured foreign governments to take action against the group, such as revoking the registration of its ships. Sea Shepherd was audited two years ago, before the discussions leaked in the documents, he said.
“We have had our tax status since 1981, and we have done nothing different since then to cause the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] to change that,” he told the Associated Press.
“No harmful or aggressive actions have been proven against Sea Shepherd and no charges have been filed against Sea Shepherd by Japan or any other nation over the issue of whaling in the Southern Ocean,” said Watson.
The deputy general director of Japan’s fisheries agency was also quoted stating, “the harassment of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had kept the Japanese whaling fleet from reaching its quotas these last few years,” which really means that Sea Shepherd is, in fact, successful.
Right now Sea Shepherd boats are in the Antarctic Ocean disrupting Japan’s fleet which kills about 1,000 whales every year.
So there you have your tax-dollars at work. No wait, your donations to an NGO working!