By Captain Alex Cornelissen, Global Executive Officer. Sea Shepherd Global.


There are a few conclusions we can make at the end of Japan’s first round of oral arguments. First and foremost the strategy they have chosen: this seems to be aimed to take the focus of this case away from the most important question: is Japan conducting commercial whaling disguised as scientific whaling?

The evidence Japanese counsel has provided in defense of the Institute for Cetacean Research to counter this accusation is weak and extremely biased. And yet it is Japan that is accusing Australia of using their evidence selectively. Based on the evidence Japan has presented we can only conclude that it is quite the opposite.

Yesterday we saw the embarrassing testimony of Professor Walløe of Norway. Professor Walløe is clearly hired by the Japanese whaling industry to provide so-called “expert” testimony attempting to convince the court that the ICR whaling operation is scientific. Nothing could of course be further from the truth and during the cross examination by Australia, not only Professor Walløe’s “expert” opinion was seriously questioned, his independency was even more questionable. He seems to be the only foreign scientist that is willing to support the JARPA and JARPA II programs and no doubt he is receiving a good sum of money for it (as well as recommendations like the Order of the Rising Sun in 2009). But even Professor Walløe had his serious reservations about the targeted fin whale and humpback whale quota of the Institute for Cetacean Research. At least that was something we can agree on.

Japanese counsel continues the attempt to convince the judges of the International Court of Justice that they have no jurisdiction in this case.

Furthermore we are being presented with tedious presentations that were increasingly hard to sit through. Presentations that more often than not, were of no relevance to the case.

Striking example is of course the repeated mentioning of Sea Shepherd, at times I half expected to be called to the stand to give my testimony but then I remembered that this case is in fact between Australia and Japan. I wonder if Japanese counsel is fully aware of that.

But we are of course quite pleased with the way we clearly have affected the kill quote of the Japanese whaling fleet and to be given credit for it at the International Court of Justice. What we are not pleased with is the continuous truth twisting and downright lies that are being presented solely paint a dark picture of our organization.

Even though it really is irrelevant to the case, there are a few things I would like to rectify:

  • Sea Shepherd is being accused of violent actions. Strangely enough it is in fact the Japanese whaling fleet, in particular the factory ship the Nisshin Maru that is currently facing criminal charges in the Netherlands for their violent behavior in last year’s campaign, Operation Zero Tolerance.
  • On one of the graphics we were shown, a clear connection is shown between the number of ships Sea Shepherd has and the amount of whales killed. The more ships, the less whales. Of course we don’t question this, in fact we are proud of it, what we do question is the fact that it wasn’t mentioned that one of our ships was rammed in half and sunk almost killing the six crew members on board.
  • It was mentioned that Captain Watson is on the Interpol red list at the request of various countries. That I personally find a rich one, these “various” countries are in fact Japan itself as well as Costa Rica (using a case dating back to 2002 that was re-activated after the Costa Rica president visited Japan late 2011, coincidence?). Both of these red notices came about under increasingly dubious circumstances and are clearly politically motivated.

As we wrap up these first two weeks it is clear to us that Japan is trying desperately to be seen as the victim and to create sympathy for their situation.

As this is a court case, Japanese counsel has mentioned over and over again that there can be no room for emotion and that we have to look at the facts.

For Sea Shepherd the fact remains that endangered whales are being killed inside a whale sanctuary despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling. These are the true victims in this case and Sea Shepherd continues to monitor this case in defense of OUR clients, the whales.

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