Research This!

07/18/2012 02:52 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2012
  • Peter Jay Brown Director, Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist & Longest Serving Sea Shepherd Crew Member

After a scare, I am happy to say that the Koreans have seen the error of their ways and have decided to not begin "scientific" whaling. For those of you who do not know, "scientific whaling" is a lame excuse to kill the earth's greatest creatures while the rest of the world ignores the slaughter. It has worked for the Japanese all these years in Antarctica so why not the Koreans? Maybe the Koreans are just more civilized and more evolved than the Japanese, but I think it really is all about money.

At this time in history the whales are lucky that Korea does not have the worldwide economic might that Japan has, and so it is much harder for them to ignore global opinions and continue barbaric practices.

So why can't we reach Japan? Are the Japanese really barbarians intent on slaughter? I am not one to believe a people are inherently evil or stupid no matter how they appear to others. It can be argued that eating today's heavy metal-contaminated whale meat is stupid, and if you are ever unlucky enough to witness the killing of the planet's largest mammal, you too might feel they are perpetrators of evil, but I think we need to look deeper -- deeper into the industrial soul of Japan.

Japan is an industrial power with few or no natural resources. Their government has gone to great lengths and even war to get them and they are doing it all again.

Coal from Australia, oil from the Middle East, various resources from the Philippines, Indonesia, etc. -- trade, trade, trade. Paul Watson and others think the way to defeat the whalers is to ding their economic engine. Make it economically prohibitive to whale. That has been the tactic since Sea Shepherd and others began to confront the world's last commercial whale fleet. Does it work for anything other than to supply the American public with exciting TV? I say no.

This year the Japan returned with less than a quarter of their quota of 1,000 whales. At auction they sold only a quarter of that. Fifty dead whales... No one wants them, so why bother?

Let's face it, whaling is over and without the government of Japan's support, it would die on its own. Iceland has announced it will no longer whale. Norway's ships are being taken out of action one by one as a new generation inherits the few harpoon vessels still left. Who knows what will happen in the Faeroes, but if they continue consumption, perhaps their mental capacity will diminish to the point they forget why they were whaling in the first place.

No, I believe the reason Japan continues to whale in Antarctica has nothing to do with whaling. For the last generation the sale of whale meat to an ignorant Japanese public helped pay for the trips to Antarctica, but bringing home 1,000 dead leviathans each year was just cover for Japan's real plan. The 10-foot high letters spelling out RESEARCH on their vessels is not for protesters, but for history. History for when Japan needs it.

The time will come when Japan needs it to prove they are like all the other nations spending millions to keep permanent research bases on the southern continent.

Permanent research bases are the price countries pay for a future seat at the table when the Antarctica treaty comes up in 2045. At that time the "countries with bases" will decide what happens to the earth's last great wilderness -- a wilderness filled with untouched riches.

I am for tossing humans off, and leaving the continent as wilderness, but the countries that have persevered over the years in unbelievably harsh conditions probably have entirely different ideas. They are all there for the natural resources. They will wait for the treaty to expire so they can dig -- and dig they will.

When that time comes I am sure the Japanese will be right there claiming a seat at the table, "because they deserve it." They have kept a research base (although a floating base) in Antarctica for 50-plus years, and they have the pictures to prove it. For those of us to ignorant to get it, the 10-foot high letters spelling out RESEARCH bring home the point.

And what does Japan want in Antarctica that warrants causing world scorn, questions their humanity, and, quite frankly, makes them look like pigs? Hydrogen.

Japan has not been shy about striving to be an "all-hydrogen economy by 2020." Now with the government's record on Nuclear Power so dismal, I am sure they will double down on hydrogen.

It came to me one night while operating the Steve Irwin hot on the trail of the Nishin Maru. I knew why I was here, but why were they hanging on? My watch partner was from Argentina and began telling me how Japan was buying up farms in Chile and Argentina to make wind farms to produce hydrogen. Wow, the light went off!

What better place to make hydrogen than Antarctica -- constant wind, no flying birds, no neighbors to complain, plenty of water, and room for storage. Let the 100 mile an hour winds make hydrogen all winter, and then send the ships down in the summer to pump the tanks and keep the whole thing going. It made perfect sense.

Where America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, France and others pay hundreds of millions each year from their government coffers to keep a presence as stated in the treaty, Japan has done it commercially on the backs of the great whales.

No more!

With the world watching, and Sea Shepherd interfering, their free ride is over. Japan's research experiment is now costing them millions of dollars and prestige.

How will they respond? For now they are just escalating the battles. More police, more than $20 million in security, more spin, only to be answered by Paul Watson with more boats and more risky tactics. Huge amounts of money and resources are being brought to the battle, but will we ever win?

History tells us that Japan does not give up easily. So I would like to open a new front in this war to save the whales. Because all the countries on Antarctica that will decide the continents outcome are anti-whaling nations... why not change the game? If my theory is true and the whales are just fodder in a larger battle for resources, why not call a spade a spade? Let's get those with bases to agree to allow Japan a seat at the table to decide the future of Antarctica.


If one more whale dies at the hands of the Japanese their dreams of a piece of Antarctica should be over. Make it a stipulation for now and into the future.

They can stay, but let them research global warming, ocean currents, or weather, but if they continue to kill whales, make it impossible for them to be legitimate resource contenders. It's like holding children hostage for a larger land dispute -- let the whales go and let's start the dialogue for a real solution for ocean conservation. Let's look forward and take whales from the equation so I, and others, can concentrate on saving Antarctica, one step at a time.