The Sea Shepherd And Anti-whaling Campaign

The context of over-exploitation of whales

People have been whaling and consuming whale meat and other products for generations. Many whale species are almost endangered due to excessive whaling, and many species are still considered endangered species. According to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), many species, including the right whale in the North Pacific, have not recovered from excessive whaling and are on the verge of extinction. According to the International Animal Protection Foundation, although the International Whaling Commission prohibits commercial whaling, Japan, Norway and Iceland are still whaling for their own private interests. Continued whaling can pose a significant threat to whale populations. After commercial whaling, whales almost drove to extinction.

The history of over-exploitation of whales

According to John A (1997), in 1907-1908, about 2,000 whales were caught from around Antarctica. This number has doubled in ten years later. It was close to 14,000 in 1927-28, and in 1937-38, the last whaling season which before the Second World War, this figure was 46,000, accounting for about 85% of all whale killings that year. Initially, the British and Norwegians almost monopolized the Antarctic whaling. However, Germany and Japan joined the whaling by the late 1930s. Although the United States was the main whaling country in the 18th and early 19th centuries, its role was greatly reduced in the 20th century. At the beginning of the Second World War, the United States killed about 5% of whales, but it didn’t participate in the Antarctic whale fishing. However, the United States is an important participant in the former whale. The Second World War London Agreement was the host country and convening country of the 1946 conference, which led to the establishment of the new Whaling Convention and the International Whaling Commission (IWC). After the introduction of the Norwegian whaling ship into the ocean-going factory ship in 1926, the international whaling industry experienced a massive expansion that eventually led to the depletion of many precious whale resources. The conservation work carried out under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission has achieved limited but growing success until a new management policy was adopted in 1975. By 1980, it was banned from killing most species of whales.

Japan is the country that kills the most whales. The most notorious pirate whaling ship is Serra. Led by the Norwegian captain, the Japanese sailor is on a boat, the Japanese solar fishery has a 75% stake, and the Foreningsbanken in Sierra Leone, Norway has a 25% stake. It has already indicated to many ENGOs the lack of pirate whaling by countries such as Japan and Norway. And the nature of interrelationships, they refuse to be bound by the international community embraced by IWC. The crew of Sierra Leone killed 1,676 whales and sold meat to the Japanese domestic market within three years. As a result, the ship and crew were considered inaccessible: IWC, which is responsible for supervising whaling, was unable to execute its own decisions and quotas. Although the world is against this killing.

The context and origins of anti-whaling campaign

Anti-whaling campaign has a long history. Early members of the environmental group began protesting whaling around the world in the 20th century. These actions are a direct response to the decline in global whale populations due to over-exploitation of the whaling industry and the failure of international whaling regulations. In 1975, Greenpeace released its first anti-whaling activity, actively facing the Soviet whaling ship in the North Pacific Fleet. Despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, Japan has been killing whales in the Southern Ocean in the name of “scientific research” since 1987. Anti-whaling campaign uses all means to protect the whales, such as online protest, fight with whalers in the sea and call for more people to participate in the protest by the social media.

The purpose of anti-whaling campaign

This anti-whaling campaign aims to protect the whales and stop killing whales. Anti-whaling campaign defends whales and prevents unsustainable fishing, habitat destruction and exploitation. They try to stop whaling and hope that the globe government can promulgate a series of laws to protect whales.

The history and background of Sea Shepherd

Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Keeper, joined the Canadian Coast Guard at the age of 18 and became a merchant ship crew. According to his biography, he did not have any educational qualifications after graduating from high school. After joining the Sierra Club in protest against the nuclear test in 1969, he continued to be a founding member of Greenpeace. The actual reasons why Watson left Greenpeace are still controversial. Rik Scarce insists that Watson used the Greenpeace Seal Hunting Games in Newfoundland in 1977 to threaten the SEALs with his own club and to club and seal skins. Throw it into the water and expel him from ENGO. According to Canadian law, his actions were crimes and prompted Greenpeace to lose tax-free status in the United States. However, Watson himself claimed on his website that he resigned Greenpeace because he believed the organization’s initial vision had been compromised. And a direct action method for organizations that are willing to use the organization to protect marine species to implement maritime law.

Watson asserts that he established the Marine Guardian Association in 1977 to protect the world's marine life. For Watson Greenpeace, which he helped to build up, his agenda for saving marine mammals was not radical enough. He only said his former friends: 'The vain hypocrites are self-destructive because of their scale and inertia... and they ridicule Greenpeace as Ms. Avon of the environmental movement.' In addition, on the Ocean Shepherd website, Watson claims that he found that whales need to be protected in an expedition whale fishing experience of Greenpeace in 1975. Facing a dying sperm whale, he thought he saw a bit of understanding in the eyes of a dying whale. He insisted that this meeting changed him and he vowed to be a defender of marine life. Watson also claims that his connection to the whale stems from his vision at the Oglala Sioux sweat hut at the inauguration ceremony after his knee uprising in 1973. He insisted that the buffalo appeared on him and suggested that he focus on protecting marine mammals, especially whales.

In 1977, Paul Watson founded the predecessor of the Marine Shepherd Protection Association in Vancouver, Canada, known as the Earth Power Environment Association. And the Sea Shepherd was formally incorporated in 1981. The non-profit organization uses direct action activists to achieve its goals. This includes ending the destruction and slaughter of marine wildlife. During anti-whaling campaign, there are many campaign which were fight with Japanese whalers in the sea. “I am proud of serving whales, dolphins, seals and all other creatures on earth. Their beauty, wisdom, strength and spirit have inspired me.” Paul Watson said. Sea Shepherd directly drive the ship to the sea to fight with whalers.

The US-based organization has fought with the South Sea whales for 12 years of high seas that have been violently claimed to have successfully saved thousands of giant mammals and brought this massacre to the forefront. Nowadays, Sea Shepherd cooperates with law enforcement agencies such as Interpol to bring poachers to justice and work with governments around the world to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in their sovereign waters.

Communicative Strategies

Sea Shepherd uses social media to communicate with people, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They post their campaigns and activities in that to let more people know it and join it. There are more then 250 thousands followers. The social media is an important communication nowadays.

Sea Shepherd has a website about anti-whaling in globe. In the website, there is the history, purpose and introduction about over-exploitation of whale. They also sales peripheral products online for the donation. People also can donate on the website to support them. If people want to join them there are also a link in their website. There is an online protest in the Australian home page of Sea Shepherd. People can sign that and then petitioned the government to take action against illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean. After you signed that, it will write to Scott Morrison in your name to telling him to put the wishes of the whales and the Australian people before Japan and asking him to raise whaling issues with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday when he visited Australia. There are more than nine thousands people signed that now. There are many facts and pictures on the website that make people feel more touched about anti-whaling. The website is a necessary communication between anti-campaign and the public.

The Sea Shepherd also uploads videos about anti-whaling in YouTube. There are more than 11.5 billion followers and 109 million views. Sea shepherd uses YouTube to communicate with people about anti-whaling. They record their actions and achievements with videos and post them in YouTube, and then encourage more people join them.

There is a documentary about anti-whaling, named ‘Defend, Conserve, Protect’. It was released in the cinema of Australia. The film depicts the Ninth Movement of the Marine Shepherd Conservation Society, known as Zero Tolerance, during which it oversaw the world's only international whale sanctuary. This is a film directed by Stephen Amis, made from shots captured on four ships of the Sea Shepherd, equipped with cameras and GoPro. Amis described the film as 'a film that captures the spirit of global activism - real people show original, unchanging fear and heroism, against terrible odds.'

What it influenced

Watson said: 'People call us violence.' 'But I said that we are doing aggressive non-violence.' Over the years, this 'aggressive non-violence' has inevitably caused controversy, despite this senior activism. They insist that their records are 'impossible'(Luke, 2019). Because of lots of anti-whaling campaign, the League of Nations expressed concern about the overexploitation of whale populations and called for protective measures in 1925. Eventually led to the Geneva Convention on Whale Control, which was introduced in 1931, but did not take effect until 1934 and was completely ignored by Germany and Japan. In 1937, the International Whaling Convention imposed restrictions on ocean whaling to prevent over-exploitation (especially the extinction of blue whales) and thus enacted the International Whaling Regulations. The anti-whaling campaign influence the relationship between countries and the whalers. They stop some whaling directly and also make the government more focus on over-exploitation of whale. However, Japan still whaling now.

How effective it was in achieving its ends

Watson and other members of the Sea Shepherds turned to a stronger form of protest after thinking that working within the system would fail to achieve their goals. Through the However, there is a lot of arguments with that. Some scholars pointed out that the anti-campaign is terrorism. Gerry N & Pete L (2008) noted that in some ways, the maritime guardian may be a “blind spot” in the literature on terrorism and political violence, because in some cases its action activism, militant direct action, piracy, vigilance, terrorism, or ecology can be considered. Defense makes classification become very difficult. On the other hand, both sea shepherds and whalers may engage in illegal activities but are not prosecuted. It may indicate that the State and the international community don’t have the will or the means to enforce the laws against them.

There is another indication that Watson and his Sea Shepherd are concerned about human life. After Robert Hunter collided with Kaiko Maru and the Japanese ship sent a distress signal, Watson provided his help but the whaler refused. In total, from environmental protection point of view, the anti-whaling campaign actually saved thousands of whales and stopped many whaling activities. And it also effects many country became resisting whaling and release the laws about stop wahlings. There is evidence about the Japanese people resisting to eat whales now.

References list

  • Charlotte E, Peter M and Sheila J, 2008, ‘The Power of Words in International Relations : Birth of an Anti-whaling Discourse’, Politics, Science, and the Environment Ser.
  • C.W.Clark, 1982, ‘An economic history and analysis of pelagic whaling’, Marine Policy, vol.6, iss.2, pp.103-120.
  • Gerry N & Pete L, 2008, ‘Vigilantes on the High Seas?: The Sea Shepherds and Political Violence’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol.20, iss.1, pp.110-133.
  • John A.K, 1997, ‘The international whaling commission — its past and possible future’, Ocean development, vol.28, iss.1, pp.79-87.
  • Luke, 2019, Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson: 'I call what we do aggressive non-violence', The Guardian, viewed in 21 October 2019,
  • Sea Shepherd, 1981, viewed in 21 October 2019, .


16 August 2021
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