Sea Shepherd Returns for a Fourth Season of Whale Wars to Put an End to Whaling

Animal Planet's Emmy Award-nominated docu-reality series Whale Wars returns for a fourth season beginning Friday, June 3, at 9 PM E/P with 10  episodes documenting Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's dramatic whale defense campaign on the Antarctic high seas.


Sea Shepherd's interventions continue to take action to stop whalers and the illegal activity of hunting whales. Captain Paul Watson and his dedicated international crew of volunteers have taken to the high seas in attempt to stop Japanese ships from illegally killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and feel there can be no  compromise – the bloodshed must stop once and for all.


The Gojira in front of an iceberg


The goal of Sea Shepard is to halt harpooning operations of the Japenses whaler ships by harassing the operations.The primary methods are to attempt to trail the whalers, dropping specialized ropes in front of the whale ships to entangle the propellers and put them out of operation, as well as hurling packets of foul smelling butyric acid onto the deck of the whalers ships. The butyric acid smell fouls the whale meat, making it unusable for commercial sale, and also makes the decks very slippery.


" We put ourselves at risk to stop the illegal whale slaughter", says Captain Paul Watson.

He adds, "One of our boats was rammed and sank by the Japenese ship, and some of our crew members were hit by heavy iron bolts that were hurled at us by the Japanese. We have also had several injuries from powerful water canons shot at us. The whalers have also now equipped their ships with sonic wave devices that emit destructive sound-waves capable of bursting eardrums."


The Sea Shepherd volunteers are apparently having success. A Japanese news agency reported that whale fleet operated at a financial  loss last season, as they harvested far less whales, due to the harassment tactics of Sea Shepherd.

The series has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography in a Non-Fiction Series (twice) and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Non-Fiction Series. The first three seasons are available on DVD in Sea Shepherd's e-store.


Supporters of Whales in the U.S.: Tune in to Animal Planet to watch the first episode of the weekly Whale Wars series on Friday, June 3, at 9 PM PST.



Press Release:


Sea Shepherd activists engaged with the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru inside 's Antarctic waters today as they try to shut down the whaling season.


The activists bombarded the deck of the Nisshin Maru with bottles and packets containing foul-smelling and slippery substances that would make it difficult to process whales, a Sea Shepherd statement said.


"I guess we can call this non-violent chemical warfare," Sea Shepherd's leader, Paul Watson, said.


"We only use organic, non-toxic materials designed to harass and obstruct illegal whaling operations."


The confrontation took place 175 nautical miles off the coast of the Australian Antarctic Territory, following a 24-hour chase in which the Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin, gradually closed on the bigger vessel.


Captain Watson said that, during the engagement, four uniformed and armed Japanese Coast Guard officers appeared on the decks of the Nisshin Maru to videotape events.

An audio tape played over loud hailers warning: "This is the Nisshin Maru captain. Stop your destructive actions immediately. If you dare to board this vessel you will be taken into custody and restrained as illegal intruders under Japanese law."


Sea Shepherd has pursued the fleet for three months without catching up with the Nisshin Maru, which is the key vessel in the seven-ship operation. Then after shaking off a tailing Japanese trawler on Saturday, the Steve Irwin located Nisshin Maru and two harpoon-equipped catcher ships hidden among heavy ice in Porpoise Bay, which is about 2200 nautical miles south-west of Hobart.


Captain Watson said they homed in on a signal from an electronic surveillance bug planted by activists on the catcher ship Yushin Maru No.2.

He said while the catcher ships scattered, the Nisshin Maru broke out of the bay and steamed north last night with the Steve Irwin in pursuit.


"They seem to be heading for some nastier weather north of us," Captain Watson said.


"Perhaps they think they may be able to lose us. I hope not.


"It's been a long haul but finally we have our teeth in their stern. We will try to hold on for as long as fuel and weather allow us to do so."


Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has called for the utmost restraint, particularly now that the Australian patrol ship Oceanic Viking has returned to port in Fremantle.

AAP and AFP report: The Japanese Government says four crew members were hurt in today's clash.

Sea Shepherd denied anyone had been injured.

Japan's Vice-Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera said protesters from the Steve Irwin threw butyric acid on to the Nisshin Maru as the two vessels drew alongside each other.

Butyric acid, found in rotten butter, has an unpleasant smell and can sting the skin and eyes.

Onodera said substances thrown by Sea Shepherd hit two crew members and two Japanese Coast Guard officers, "who complained of pain".

Watson said the butyric acid was thrown in beer bottles that broke on the ship, while the powder was inside paper bags. Both were thrown by hand.
On Japanese claims the four crew had been hurt, Watson said: "They are so full of crap.

"We filmed and photographed the entire thing. Not a single thing landed anywhere near their crew.

"Last year it took them 24 hours to come up with claims of injuries. It is their way of trying to get sympathy.

"Our crew delivered about two thousand bottles of butter acid – stink bombs – which has got their ship smelling so bad we are hanging half a mile away.

"We also put slippery powder on board, which makes it very difficult for them to work on the deck. If they try to wash it off, it only gets worse," he said.

Watson said four armed Japanese Coast Guard personnel were on board, including one who had his hand on his gun during the clash.

"The captain's voice came over and said, 'If you come on board you will be arrested and taken back to Japan.'

"I reminded him that he is in the Australian Antarctic Territory and he shouldn't be there with military people," Watson said.

Watson said his ship would keep tailing the Japanese fleet for another couple of weeks.

The whaling season in the Southern Ocean is likely to end later this month when rough weather and icy conditions make hunting the marine mammals impossible.

Onodera spoke of the latest clash as he addressed a seminar in Tokyo with officials from 11 developing states that have recently joined or plan to join the deadlocked International Whaling Commission.

Japan is holding the meeting to win support for its position that the international body should allow "sustainable whaling".

Western nations, led by Australia, strongly oppose Japan's whaling.
The countries taking part in the seminar are Angola, Cambodia, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana, Laos, Malawi, Palau, Tanzania and Vanuatu, the Foreign Ministry said.

Micronesia was invited but did not attend, officials said.

Japan, which kills up to 1000 whales a year, says whaling is part of its culture, and accuses anti-whaling countries of insensitivity.

It harpoons whales using a loophole in a 1986 global moratorium on whaling that allows "lethal research" on the giant mammals, although the meat often ends up on Japanese dinner plates.

Environmentalists accuse Japan of buying votes in the International Whaling Commission by roping in countries that receive Japanese aid and have little tradition of whaling. 



Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body responsible for managing whaling.

The IWC regulates the whaling industry and acts to conserve whale populations. The ban was introduced because some species were in danger of being wiped out.

The IWC has over 70 member countries, including the UK. But two member nations – and – have lodged objections to the ban which allow them to whale commercially.

Another member, Japan, continues to hunt whales under the guise of 'scientific research'

WSPA wants the IWC to maintain the whaling ban to protect the welfare of the world's whales.


Why do some countries still hunt whales?


Norway and Japan will kill around 2,500 whales this year. Some will die instantly but many hundreds will suffer long and inhumane deaths.

Their meat and blubber is processed for human consumption. Other parts of the whale are turned into pet food, animal feed or simply thrown away.

Norway currently (2008) allows 1,052 minke whales to be hunted commercially for meat each year. Norway has killed over 8,100 whales since the whaling ban began

Japan currently (2008) kills 1,415 great whales from six species each year, for 'scientific research'. The IWC has condemned this as unnecessary and called on Japan to stop their hunts in over 20 separate Resolutions

Iceland killed 200 minke whales between 2003 and 2007 for 'scientific' purposes.


Working with the IWC

IWC members meet every year. WSPA uses diplomacy, education and public campaigning to raise whale welfare up the agenda. Read about the 2008 meeting >>

Your support is helping us show whaling nations and the IWC that whale welfare is important to the public.

Help WSPA consign whaling to the history books.
 Take action against whaling.


This is a partial list of countries which are involved in whaling activities and the types and numbers of whales that they actually kill. It is NOT intended to be extensive nor complete. These numbers can change at any given time. The article was originally compiled by Nick Voth,

Kills 300+ Minke every year. (670 by 1998)

Kills 2,600 Beluga every year out of total population of 55,000.
The IWC has recommended total protection for Belugas.
The IWC has been ignored.

Kills 200 Beluga every year.
Wants to resume full scale commercial whaling.
Plans to kill at least 200 Gray whales this year.

USA – Alaska & Washiugton State:
Kill 1,000 Beluga.
Kill Bowhead whales every year. Total population less than 2000 animals.
Killing by the Inuit protected as, "subsistance hunting."
The Makah tribe in Washington State also reinstated whaling in 1999, despite protests from animal rights groups. They are currently seeking to resume whaling of the gray whale a right recognized in the Treaty of Neah Bay.


Kills 1,500 Beluga every year.

Kills 500+ Minke whales every year.(400+ Antarctica, 100 Northwest Pacific)
Kills Pilot whales and Baird's Beaked whales – Coastal whaling.
Considering killing Byrdes' whales.

Kills 3,500 pilot whales every year.

Considering resumption of full scale commercial whaling.

Considering resumption of full scale commercial whaling.

Considering resumption of full scale commercial whaling.

This list totals at least 14,400 whales. It DOES NOT INCLUDE any projected numbers for Chile, Peru, Korea, Russia or Norway. Those countries and others are considering plans to resume commercial whaling, but have not yet published their estimated yearly kills or schedules. With the ' failure to enforce sanctions, the doors are opened to any other country which would like to resume whaling activities. The whale population cannot stand for such an increase in killing. If only a fraction of the killing that once existed begins again, the world's whales will, once again, be placed in dire danger of extinction.




Canadian whaling is carried out in small numbers by various Inuit groups around the country and is managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Harvested meat is sold through shops and supermarkets in northern communities where whale meat is a component of the traditional diet[citation needed], but typically not in southern, more urban cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society says:

Canada has pursued a policy of marine mammal management which appears to be more to do with political expediency rather than conservation.


While Canada left the IWC in 1982, the only species currently harvested by the Canadian Inuit that is covered by the IWC is the bowhead whale.[9] As of 2004, the limit on bowhead whale hunting allows for the hunt of one whale every two years from the Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin population, and one whale every 13 years from the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait population.[10] This is roughly one fiftieth of the bowhead whale harvest limits in

Faroe Islands

Around 950 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena, actually a species of dolphin) are slain annually, mainly during the summer. Occasionally, other species are hunted as well, such as the northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. The hunt is known as the Grindadráp.

Faroese whaling is regulated by Faroese authorities but not by the IWC, which does not regulate the catching of small cetaceans.

Most Faroese consider the hunt an important part of their culture and history and arguments about the topic raise strong emotions. Animal-rights groups criticize the hunt as being cruel and unnecessary. Hunters claim that most journalists lack knowledge of the catch methods used to capture and kill the whales or of the hunt's economic significance. Everything apart from the head and tail fin is used, and the meat is not sold but is distributed to the participants of the hunt.


Greenlandic Inuit whalers catch around 175 whales per year, making them the third largest hunt in the world after Norway and Japan, though their take is small compared to Japan's or Norway's, who annually averaged around 730 and 590 whales respectively in 1998-2007.[11][12] The IWC treats the west and east coasts of Greenland as two separate population areas and sets separate quotas for each coast. The far more densely populated west coast accounts for over 90 percent of the catch. In a typical year around 150 minke and 10 fin whales are taken from west coast waters and around 10 minkes are from waters. In April 2009 Greenland landed its first bowhead whale in nearly forty years after being given a quota by the IWC in 2008 for two whales a year until 2012.


Iceland did not object to the 1986 IWC moratorium. Between 1986 and 1989 around 60 animals per year were taken under a scientific permit. However, under strong pressure from anti-whaling countries, who viewed scientific whaling as a circumvention of the moratorium, Iceland ceased whaling in 1989. Following the IWC's 1991 refusal to accept its Scientific Committee's recommendation to allow sustainable commercial whaling, Iceland left the IWC in 1992.

Iceland rejoined the IWC in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium. Iceland presented a feasibility study to the 2003 IWC meeting for catches in 2003 and 2004. The primary aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of fish-whale interactions. Amid disagreement within the IWC Scientific Committee about the value of the research and its relevance to IWC objectives,[13] no decision on the proposal was reached. However, under the terms of the convention the Icelandic government issued permits for a scientific catch. In 2003 Iceland resumed scientific whaling which continued in 2004 and 2005.

Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006. Its annual quota is 30 minke whales (out of an estimated 174,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic[14]) and nine fin whales (out of an estimated 30,000 animals in the central and north-eastern North Atlantic[14][15]).


Lamalera, on the south coast of the island of Lembata, and Lamakera on neighbouring Solor are the two remaining Indonesian whaling communities. The hunters obey religious taboos that ensure that they use every part of the animal. About half of the catch is kept in the village; the rest is bartered in local markets. In 1973, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sent a whaling ship and a Norwegian whaler to modernize their hunt. This effort lasted three years, and was not successful. According to the FAO report, the Lamalerans "have evolved a method of whaling which suits their natural resources, cultural tenets and style."[16]


When the commercial whaling moratorium was introduced by the IWC in 1982, Japan lodged an official objection. However, in response to US threats to cut Japan's fishing quota in US territorial waters under the terms of the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment, Japan withdrew its objection in 1987. However, according to the BBC, America went back on this promise, effectively destroying the deal.[17] Since Japan could not resume commercial whaling, it began whaling on a scientific-research basis. Australia, Greenpeace, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and other groups dispute the Japanese claim of research "as a disguise for commercial whaling, which is banned."[18][19]

The stated purpose of the research program is to establish the size and dynamics of whale populations. The Japanese government wishes to resume whaling in a sustainable manner under the oversight of the IWC, both for whale products (meat etc.) and to help preserve fishing resources by culling whales. Anti-whaling organizations claim that the research program is a front for commercial whaling, that the sample size is needlessly large and that equivalent information can be obtained by non-lethal means, for example by studying samples of whale tissue (such as skin) or faeces.[20] The Japanese government sponsored Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), which conducts the research, disagrees, stating that the information obtainable from tissue and/or faeces samples is insufficient and that the sample size is necessary in order to be .

Japan's scientific whaling program is controversial in anti-whaling countries. Countries opposed to whaling have passed non-binding resolutions in the IWC urging Japan to stop the program. Japan claims that whale stocks for some species are sufficiently large to sustain commercial hunting and blame filibustering by the anti-whaling side for the continuation of scientific whaling. Deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, told BBC News:

The reason for the moratorium [on commercial whaling] was scientific uncertainty about the number of whales. … It was a moratorium for the sake of collecting data and that is why we started scientific whaling. We were asked to collect more data




Norway registered an objection to the International Whaling Commission moratorium and is thus not bound by it. Commercial whaling ceased for a five year period to allow a small scientific catch for gauging the stock's sustainability and resumed 1993. Minke whales are the only legally hunted species. Catches have fluctuated between 487 animals in 2000 to 592 in 2007. The catch is made solely from the Northeast Atlantic minke whale population, which is estimated at 102,000.[22]



Russia had a significant whaling hunt of orcas and dolphins along with Iceland and Japan. In 1970 a study published by Bigg M.A. following photographic recognition of orcas found a significant difference in the suspected ages of whale populations and their actual ages. Following this evidence, the Russians continued a scientific whale hunt, though the verisimilitude of the intentions of the hunt over the last 40 years are questioned.[23][24] Currently Russians in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Far East are permitted under IWC regulation to take up to 140 gray whales from the North-East Pacific population each year.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Natives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on the island of Bequia have a quota from the International Whaling Commission of up to four humpback whales per year using traditional hunting methods and equipment.

United States

In the United States, whaling is carried out by nine different indigenous Alaskan communities. The whaling program is managed by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission which reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The hunt takes around 50 bowhead whales a year from a population of about 10,500 in Alaskan waters. Conservationists fear this hunt is not sustainable, though the IWC Scientific Committee, the same group that provided the above population estimate, projects a population growth of 3.2% per year. The hunt also took an average of one or two gray whales each year until 1996. The quota was reduced to zero in that year due to sustainability concerns. A future review may result in the gray whale hunt being resumed. Bowhead whales weigh approximately 5-10 times as much as minke whales.

The Makah tribe in Washington State also reinstated whaling in 1999, despite protests from animal rights groups. They are currently seeking to resume whaling of the gray whale a right recognized in the Treaty of Neah Bay.



What Countries are Still Killing Whales?

Please take a moment to voice your opinion about the killing of whales. Start and/or continue your letter-writing campaign. It is important that you write often to remind those in a position of power that the killing of whales is not acceptable in the 21st Century.

Primary Commercial Whale Kill Countries:
Japan, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, St Lucia

Danish Faeroe Islands
High Commissioner of the Faeroe Islands
Ms. Birgit Kleis
Amtmansbrekkan 6
FO-110 Tórshavn
PO Box 12
Faeroe Islands
Tel: +298-351200
Prime Minister of Denmark
Kaj Leo Johanneseen
Prins Jørgens Gård 11
1218 Copenhagen K
Tel: +45 33 92 33 00
Fax +45 33 11 16 65

 Support  Australia's important position in the fight to stop Japan from whaling

Prime Minister Taro Aso
1-6-1 Nagata-cho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968 JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-5253-2111
E-mail form:
Public Relations Fax: +81-3-3581-3883
Minister of Fisheries
1-2-1 Ksumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8907 JAPAN
Tel: +81-3-3502-8111
Fax: +81-3-3502-0794
E-mail form: click here

Prime Minister of Iceland
Johanna Sigurdardottir
150 Reykjavik
Tel: +354-545-8400
Fax: +354-562-4014
Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries
Steingrimur Sigfusson
Minister of Fisheries


Prime Minister of Norway
Jens Stoltenberg
The Office of the Prime Minister
P.O.Box 8001 Dep
N-0030 Oslo
Tel: +47-22-24-90-90
Fax: +47-22-24-95-00
Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs
Helga Pedersen
Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs
P.O. Box 8118 Dep
0032 Oslo
Tel: +47-22-24-90-90
Fax: +47-22-24-95-85

St. Lucia
Prime Minister of St. Lucia
Hon. Stephenson King
5th Floor, Greaham Louisy Administrative Building
Waterfront, Castries
Saint Lucia, West Indies
Tel: +758-468-2111 or +758-468-2101
Fax: +758-453-7352
Department of Fisheries
Hon. Ezechiel Joseph
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Forestry
Stanislaus James Building, Castries
Saint Lucia
Tel: +758-468-4135 or +758-450-2078
Fax: +758-450-2287
E-mail: or