A Whale of a Win

Wild Magazine, April 2014

The International Court of Justice's decision to ban Japan's whale slaughter in Antarctic waters is a bolt of optimism from the blue. Raise a glass. Celebrate the 12 to 4 judges decision which reflects remarkably closely the the 80 per cent opposition in Australia to whaling, logging of ancient forests and coal or coal seam gas extraction without farmers' agreements.

The rock upon which the Japanese factory ship, Shonan Maru - the last in the age of whaling which saw up to 45 factory ships slaughtering whales off Antarctica - foundered is called Paul Watson. To the whale killers he is a pirate, criminal, renegade. But to the whales he is resolute, not-for-turning, gentle life-saver. Now the world court has vindicated his upholding of the law which the Japanese government was breaking all along.

Bravo Watson for inspiring us all. Watson's formula for success is action. Not to stand by, discuss, lobby or plead for the whales or oceans in which they swim but to actively intervene against the destroyers on their behalf.

It is said that when the going gets tough the tough get going. Well, add intellectual integrity to toughness and convert both to action and you've got Captain Paul Watson.

What a contrast with Prime Minister Tony Abbott who criticised the 2010 Rudd-Garrett decision to go to the ICJ over whaling because it could upset relations with Japan! Abbott is on track to snare himself over forests just as Tokyo did over whaling: he is demanding the World Heritage Committee, which meets in June in Qatar, rescind World Heritage status from 74,000 hectares of Tasmania's grand Weld, Upper Florentine and Catamaran forests. Wrong way Prime Minister! Go back!

If he succeeds, the world will be with those who move in to defend the same forests from Abbott 's chainsaws. A Galaxy poll shows a majority of Australians want the forests kept as World Heritage: amongst 18-24 year olds its 97 per cent!

I am reminded of Watson's dictum that he doesn't take instructions from other people (including Tokyo), he takes them from the whales. Just as I won't be taking instructions from Abbott (or his Tasmanian counterpart, Premier Hodgman who is threatening peaceful protesters with mandatory jail sentences) when and if the time comes - I'll take mine from the forests.

Bob Brown


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