Side-stepping a 1986 global moratorium that prohibits all commercial whaling, Japan is again using a loophole that allows “lethal research” on the giant mammals. They kill about 1000 whales a year for “scientific studies”. Greenpeace claims that [C]atching whales for science is a hoax, and their ship Esperanza and its crew has untiringly prevented the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales. As part of their strategy they use high-profile, non-violent conflict to raise the level and quality of public debate.
Their peaceful activism has caused Greenpeace to clash with another conservation group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Paul Watson, their founder and captain of their ship Steve Irwin has adopted a pirate image for his organization, claiming that even the Dalai Lama condones Sea shepherd’s actions.
Today the Japanese whalers of the whaling ship Nisshin Maru (which has Coast Guard escorts on board) shot at him, Watson told several newspapers. Only the fact that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest saved him from serious injuries, he states. The Japanese government, of course, denies this, insisting that crew members on the Japanese whaling ship fired warning balls at the protesters, not gunshots, in retaliation to having foul-smelling substances thrown at them. However, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith issued two statements today: Initially he said Japan had informed Australian diplomats in Tokyo that a crew member aboard a whaling vessel had fired warning shots. But about 30 minutes later, Smith issued another statement saying Japanese officials had subsequently advised Australian diplomats that no gunshots had been fired, but that “warning balls” (“flash-bangs”) had been thrown.
Both parties seek a forensic examination of the bullet by the Australian Federal Police.