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Sea Shepherd

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

Sea Shepherd is not verified as a 501(c)3 organization.

Latest News

Apr 18, 2014

Healing Wishes For Conservationist Hero Emmanuel de Merode

Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of CongoEmmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Photo courtesy Virunga Movie
The thoughts and best wishes of all of us at Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are now with Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Emmanuel, the husband of Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member and Paleontologist Dr. Louise Leakey, was shot during an ambush on Tuesday within the park. He remains in stable condition, and we are hopeful that this remarkably strong individual will make a speedy and complete recovery.

Emmanuel is an inspiration to us all, with his uncompromising commitment to conservation and the protection of the Virunga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and all of the species that call it home. Despite the constant threat of violence from poachers and others who would harm this important ecosystem, he has risked his own life to protect wildlife and their habitat.

An anthropologist, Emmanuel de Merode has been Chief Warden of Virunga National Park since 2008 when he was appointed by the Congolese government. He has stood in brave defense of the park against those who seek to pillage it for oil or poach the threatened animals who live there. While it is unknown at this time who shot him, Emmanuel reportedly met with a prosecutor shortly before the ambush and had delivered information about an oil firm’s plans to explore for oil in and around the park. Could oil interests or poachers be to blame for this act of violence against Virunga’s defender?

Emmanuel has also led the fight against bushmeat, forest destruction, and encouraged the use of sustainable energy. Virunga National Park is home to many of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas, as well as a large population of other animals, including hippopotamuses and elephants. “Virunga,” a documentary about the brave protectors of Virunga National Park has just debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. Emmanuel is featured in the film, along with the park rangers who carry out this important but dangerous work.

We at Sea Shepherd know firsthand the risks involved in defending Mother Nature from her many enemies. Recent reports reveal more than 900 conservationists have been killed as a direct result of their work defending the environment in just the last decade. We are thankful for Emmanuel and all of the amazing conservationists and activists around the world who accept these risks. Even now, as violence against these unsung heroes increases, we stand with them in the battle against extinction for so many species.

If you would like to express your thanks and well wishes to Emmanuel de Merode, please comment on Virguna National Park’s Facebook page or send a tweet with your message of support:

Apr 17, 2014

Japan’s Northwest Pacific “not-for-purposes-of-scientific-research” Whale Killing Program Could Start Later This Month

Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen

Common minke whale, the main target of Japan's NW Pacific huntCommon minke whale, the main target
of Japan's NW Pacific hunt
Photo: Erwin Vermeulen / Sea Shepherd
On March 31st, a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) served a devastating blow to Japan’s whaling industry. The court’s landmark ruling stated that the Japan whale Research Program in the Antarctic (JARPA II) was not conducted for the purposes of scientific research. It ordered that Japan revoke the scientific permits given under JARPA II and refrain from granting any further permits under that program.

In a blatant show of defiance of this ruling, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) last week filed court briefs stating that they intend to return to slaughter whales in the Southern Ocean for the 2015-2016 season with a newly designed "research" program and will seek a permanent injunction against Sea Shepherd.

Another example of Japan’s complete disregard for the wishes of the international community could soon unfold as the Japan whale Research Program in the Northwest Pacific (JARPN II) is scheduled to start this month. According to a Japan Times article of April 17: “The Japanese whaling fleet’s departure for the Pacific Northwest has been delayed to April 26 instead of Tuesday 22nd” because of disagreements between the Foreign Ministry and the Fisheries Agency after the International Court of Justice last month ordered Japan to halt its annual “research” hunts in the Antarctic Ocean after ruling they are not scientific in nature. The Foreign Ministry is concerned that if Japan whales in the Northwest Pacific immediately after the ICJ ruling, anti-whaling countries may sue to halt hunts there as well. The Fisheries Agency insists that whaling in the Northwest Pacific should continue, but at a reduced target catch of 60 whales. The delay “might be a side effect of U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned three-day visit to Japan starting Wednesday.”

Although the ICJ ruling does not include JARPN II, as Australia and New Zealand’s case centered on “their” whales in their “backyard”, even the Japanese government realizes, according to a NHK World article of April 10, that “the court's ruling could be applied to those waters depending on methods used, including the number caught.”

The article continues: “The concern is prompting the government to assess its research procedures. It plans to decide as early as next week whether to go ahead with research whaling in the Northwestern Pacific. Some in the government claim that it should conduct the Pacific research whaling as planned. But others argue that Japan could be sued again if it continues the program without due consideration to the court's ruling.”

Immediately after the ICJ ruling, the spokesman for the Japanese delegation to the court, Nori Shikata said: “Our program in the Northern Pacific is outside the scope of the proceedings before the court, and so they are two separate programs and this ruling is about the program in the Antarctic,”

On April 15th, before a meeting with the president of the ICR, Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed willingness to continue whaling in the Pacific despite the ICJ ruling. He said he is determined to "maintain the solid policy of preserving whale-eating culture and securing supply of whale meat."

On that same date, Kyodo Senpaku, which owns Japan's whaling fleet, said it had urged Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to allow the Northern Pacific whaling to take place as usual. "The minister gave us strong encouragement by saying that he would firmly consider it, given that the research itself was not gainsaid."

Aside from the geographic region and the whales targeted, the JARPN and JARPA programs are identical twins when you look at their goal, construction and history. Thus a large part of the ICJ’s motivation for the ruling on Antarctic whaling can be directly applied to the Northwest Pacific slaughter:

  • A court would find no evidence of any studies of the feasibility or practicability of non-lethal methods, nor find evidence that Japan examined whether it would be feasible to combine a smaller lethal take and an increase in non-lethal sampling to achieve its research objectives.
  • As with the evaluation of JARPA (1988-2005) and JARPA II (2005-2014) by the ICJ, a court investigation of JARPN (1994-1999) and JARPN II (2000-present) will reveal a considerable overlap between the two programs’ subjects, their objectives, and their methods.
  • Both state identical goals such as improving knowledge on stock identity/structure and feeding ecology.
  • As with JARPA II, which called for a significant increase in the minke whale “sample” size and the lethal “sampling” of additional species (humpback and fin whales) compared to JARPA, the Northwest Pacific kill quota escalated from the killing of 100 common minke whales annually under JARPN to 100 common minke whales, 50 bryde's whales, and 10 sperm whales under JARPN II. In 2002 they increased the minke whale quota to 150 and added 50 sei whales. The next year, the minke quota became 160 and the sei whale quota was doubled to 100. In 2008 the program proposal was an annual take of 340 minke whales, 50 bryde's whales, 100 sei whales and 10 sperm whales.
  • The ICJ determined that weaknesses in Japan’s explanation for the decision to proceed with the JARPA II sample sizes prior to the final review of JARPA lend support to the view that those sample sizes and the launch date for JARPA II were not driven by strictly scientific considerations. The same applies to the transition from JARPN to JARPN II.
  • The ICJ noted that there were three additional aspects of JARPA II which cast further doubt on its characterization as a program for purposes of scientific research: the open-ended time frame of the program, its limited scientific output to date, and the lack of cooperation between JARPA II and other domestic and international research programs. All of these aspects apply to JARPN II.

Given these examples, it becomes clear that if JARPN II were under the scrutiny of the ICJ or any other court outside of a whaling nation, the conclusion of that court would sound much the same as in the case of JARPA II: “The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA/N II are not ‘for purposes of scientific research’ pursuant to Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.”

As a result, Japan would have violated the moratorium not only in the Antarctic, but also in the Northwest Pacific.

Beyond all the legal talk, it is of course clear to every rational person that just as Japan’s Antarctic whale program is a disguise for commercial whaling, the same goes for the program in the North Pacific.

Still in the court’s ruling there is this sentence: “The Court finds that JARPA II can broadly be characterized as ‘scientific research’.” How “broadly” exactly do you want to go?

Science thrives on our thirst for knowledge. All valuable research starts with a question. With that question as a foundation, scientists build a research program that might provide them with answers.

Japan has no questions; they had to disguise their continuation of commercial whaling as science. Deciding on an outcome was easy: the resumption of commercial whaling. Then they defined the desired conclusions: “there are plenty of whales” and “these whales eat our fish.” As whales in Antarctica migrate South to feast on krill and not fish, they had to come up with something else there: “minke whales have become too abundant and threaten the recovery of the blue whale and therefore have to be culled.”

Calling this science, even broadly, is an obscenity.

An important point that some might forget in this day and age, where for many science has replaced the gods of old, is that just because something is called science, be it as a guise, truly so or just broadly, that in itself justifies absolutely nothing! We only have to look at what is done to animals in laboratories all around the world to realize that science often lacks ethics and morals. In the definition of the ICJ, probably even the experiments of Nazi doctors in WW II concentration camps could “broadly be characterized as ‘scientific research’.” That doesn’t make it all right…

Regarding JARPN II there is another disguise within the disguise of commercial whaling as science. When Japan in 1988, under US pressure, lifted its objection to the moratorium on commercial whaling, this also ended Japanese Small-Type Coastal Whaling (JSTCW) for minke whales, as minkes are one of the 13 species of larger whales that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In response to the moratorium, four of the last nine JSTCW vessels from Abashiri (Hokkaido Prefecture), Ayukawa (Miyagi Prefecture), Wada (Chiba Prefecture) and Taiji (Wakayama Prefecture) stopped operating. The remaining ships continued killing short-finned pilot whales, Risso’s dolphins and Baird’s beaked whales in Japan’s coastal waters, as these “small cetaceans” are not covered by the IWC’s regulations.

Since 1987, Japan has tried to get a quota from the IWC to resume the killing of minke whales under a sort of aboriginal subsistence whaling scheme as exists for Alaskan Inuits, Northeast Siberian Chukchi, Greenlanders and for the natives of Bequia. The IWC has for all these years refused to grant a minke whale quota for JSTCW because they judge it to be a commercial proposal.

To get around this, the ICR added a coastal component to JARPN II in 2002. The ICR contracts Japan’s Small Type Whaling Association to provide vessels and crew to participate in whaling operations off Ayukawa, now part of Ishinomaki, (Miyagi prefecture) from April through May and off Kushiro (Hokkaido) in September and October to shoot 60 minke whales in each area. The ICR buys the whales from the whaling companies at a set price and then sells part of the meat at a subsidized price back to the JSTCW towns.

In this light, the ICR’s activities in the Northwest Pacific are an even bigger scam than those in Antarctica.

This is the hunt that is about to start on April 22nd, followed a month later by the offshore component that includes the last-of-its-kind floating abattoir, the Nisshin Maru and the familiar Yushins.

All this could just be underway before the annual meeting of the IWC scientific committee starting May 12 in Slovenia. The committee members are almost certain to question the legality of JARPN II in light of the ICJ ruling on JARPA II.

The international community cannot stand by and allow Japan to make a mockery out of its agreements and institutions. It’s time for the world’s leaders to pick up the phone and explain to Tokyo in no uncertain terms why they should keep their whaling ships in port.

Apr 15, 2014

Western Australian Fisheries in league with Japanese Whale poachers

- Fisheries, Fish for the future, continue their assault on our healthy marine environment

- 2 large tiger sharks caught off Perth metro beaches, one released injured and one shot 3 times and dumped.

Monday 14th April, 2014 - This morning off the Perth Metro meat curtains (aka Barnett's drum lines), Sea Shepherd's Bruce the RIB, witnessed the following:

08:00 am AWST - Drum line approximately 1km off Scarborough Beach - 2.7 metre Tiger shark caught, injured and released

Bruce the RIB noticed that due to the drum lines being drawn together and tangled that something had tragically been hooked over night and was waiting a visit from the WA Fisheries Department. The Fisheries officers inspected the caught and injured tiger shark before he/she was pulled aboard the Fisheries boat, then was released bloodied and injured back into the water approximately 1 kilometre off Scarborough beach.

Captain Mike Dicks on board Bruce the RIB stated, "One can not imagine what these sharks go through to be hooked over night, to not be able to swim and get oxygen to their vital organs, slowly slipping into a state of tonic immobility. Everything about this shark cull defies logic and sense on every level, most importantly the fact that it makes public safety worse with sharks being drawn closer to our beaches stimulated by bait."

Fisheries Department hooks a undersized tiger sharkFisheries Department hooks an undersized tiger shark Fisheries Department snares and further injures the undersized tiger shark before releasing. photo: Tim Watters/Sea ShepherdFisheries Department snares and further injures the undersized tiger shark before releasing.

10:15 am AWST - Drum line approximately 1km off Mullaloo Beach - 3 metre plus Tiger shark caught, injured and thrashing about before Fisheries shoot 3 times to the death

A second tiger shark was hooked by Barnett's meat curtains this morning, a large 3 metre plus tiger shark had been hooked over night off Mullaloo beach.

She was in a very distressed state and was thrashing around with a hook through her head, before being dragged along side the P.V. Houtman, the WA Fisheries boat with the hypocritical slogan "Fish for the future" on the side of the boat.

She was then shot, not once, not twice, but three times before being hauled aboard and dumped out to sea. No tagging, no research, nothing learnt, a complete waste.

Fisheries prepares to shoot the SharkFisheries prepares to shoot the Shark Fisheries Department hauls shark onboard, it could be pregnant based on its wide girthFisheries Department hauls shark onboard, it could be pregnant based on its wide girth

Sea Shepherd crew member Tim Watters stated, "I have now seen first hand the barbaric, senseless, cruel and tragedy of the WA shark cull. I have seen today a beautiful female 3 metre plus tiger shark in such a stressed state, thrashing around for her life, before being pulled alongside and shot three times. Given the time of year, she was most likely was pregnant. I have just returned from defending the whales in the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and can not believe what I am seeing right off our WA coast, it rivals that of any cruelty and insanity of the Japanese whale poachers"

  • The Japanese whale poachers are targeting protected species, just as the WA Fisheries Department do.
  • The Japanese whale poachers try and run Sea Shepherd out of fuel just as the WA Fisheries Department do.
  • The Japanese whale poachers try to hide from the world their cruel and barbaric slaughter of marine life, just like the WA Fisheries Department do.
  • The Japanese whale poachers have no respect for human or marine life, just as the WA Fisheries department don't by attracting sharks closer to shore and stimulating them with bait, right off popular Perth swimming beaches.

The WA Fisheries Department have the following statement on their website, "The presence of many species of shark as 'apex predators' – occupying the top level of the food chain – is an indication of a healthy marine environment.".

With just over two weeks to go until the drum lines comes out from this insane three month trial, the WA Fisheries Department continue their assault on WA's healthy marine environment.

Sea Shepherd will not rest until the Australian Government use the worlds best practices that help minimise the threat of shark incidents, instead of worlds worst practices that not only kill our precious marine life that we all rely on, but also make our beaches less safe.

All photos: Tim Watters / Sea Shepherd

Apr 12, 2014

Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) Shames Themselves in Defiance of World Court Ruling

The ICR Today Filed Court Briefs Stating They Intend to Return to Antarctica to Hunt Whales in 2015-2016; Will Seek to Enjoin Other Sea Shepherd Entities from Obstructing Their Operations

File photo: In 2009 crew aboard the Yushin Maru No 3, fire a shotgun to kill a minke whaleIn this 2009 File photo, crew aboard the Yushin Maru No 3 are seen firing a shotgun to kill a minke whaleIn a blatant show of defiance of the recent landmark ruling in The Hague by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has today filed court briefs stating they intend to return to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean for the 2015-2016 season with a newly designed "research" program and will seek a permanent injunction against Sea Shepherd USA — despite the fact the USA entity is no longer operating in the Southern Ocean — and will also seek to enjoin other Sea Shepherd entities.

The case of Australia vs. Japan was heard by the ICJ in July of last year to decide whether Japan was in breach of its international obligations in implementing their JARPA II “research” program in the Southern Ocean, and to demand that Japan cease implementation of JARPA II and revoke any related permits until Japan can make assurances that their operations conform with international law.

In a vote of 12 to 4 handed down on March 31st, the ICJ ruled that Japan’s whaling program JARPA II was not conducted for the purposes of scientific research as defined under International Whaling Commission regulations. It ordered that Japan revoke the scientific permits given under JARPA II and refrain from granting any further permits under that program. Today, however, the ICR filed briefs in the U.S. District Court in Seattle clearly stating their intent to continue to hunt whales in defiance of this ruling.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder Captain Paul Watson had this to say in response to today’s filing: “When the ICJ verdict was issued, I knew that although it was a great victory that vindicated our opposition to illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean, I could see the potential for the ICR to re-write their program and to return. My prediction was they would return for the 2015-2016 season. It seems that this is exactly what they intend to do,” he said. “The statement that Japan issued that they would comply with the ICJ ruling was I believe insincere. Japan has a history of duplicity with regard to whaling. I fully expect that Sea Shepherd Global will be prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2015 to once again defend the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,“ Captain Watson added.

Upon learning of ICR’s plans, Sea Shepherd USA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations Scott West stated: "The Japanese clearly intend to violate the intent, if not the letter, of the World Court’s judgment. They are making a mockery of the International Court of Justice and come before the US Courts with very unclean hands. They are the first to cry foul when someone dares to challenge their lies, yet they expect the world to respect the court’s decisions that are in their favor. They are poachers and operate without integrity.”

Clearly, the ICR is unsettled not only by the favorable ICJ ruling but also by Commissioner Peter Shaw’s recent recommendation to the Ninth Circuit Court that Sea Shepherd USA not be held in contempt. In their court brief, the ICR threatened: "If the Ninth Circuit finds it was not Defendants who committed contempt, then Plaintiffs may need to add to this action the parties who did commit the contempt." They also noted: "Plaintiffs expect additional parties they may seek to add to this action would include foreign parties." However, how they intend to bring foreign entities before a U.S. court has yet to be seen.

A status conference will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 16 in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, 700 Stewart Street, Seattle, Wash. 98101 to set the trial date for a permanent injunction case brought against Sea Shepherd USA from obstructing illegal whaling operations in the Southern Ocean. The meeting is open to the public.

File photo: In 2009, the factory ship Nisshin Maru hauls minke whale up its slipwayIn this 2009 File photo, the factory ship Nisshin Maru hauls a minke whale up its slipway

Apr 10, 2014

Undersized Sharks Caught on WA's Drum Lines Not Given Best Opportunity to Survive

Channel 9 News story

Sea Shepherd Australia, in conjunction with shark researchers, is calling on the Western Australian Government and the Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt to revise WA's shark-bait-and-kill initiative with a view to maximize the survival rates of undersized sharks caught on the drum lines.

The move comes after damning footage reveals that undersized tiger sharks are being dumped in a state of stress and sinking to the ocean floor, without best practice release techniques being applied.

Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia stated that the current model in Brazil, which is backed by published academic research, involves sharks being placed in a tank filled with running sea water, affording the sharks plenty of room to swim in large circles, thereby minimizing stress.

"Currently the drum line initiative is overwhelmingly capturing undersized tiger sharks, which are then being dumped injured and stressed without giving the shark maximum chances of survival," Mr. Hansen said. "Shark experts have agreed that if the sharks are given the opportunity to swim after being caught, then their chances of survival are increased."

Shark caught with head injuryMore than 100 tiger sharks have been caught on the state's drum lines since they were deployed on January 25th of this year. Recent figures released by the WA Department of Fisheries demonstrate that over 70% of the sharks caught on the drum lines are undersized, and therefore included as “totally protected fish” under the Fisheries Resources Management Act.

Tiger sharks are also well-known to play a vital role in maintaining the health of our oceans, and have been coexisting with humans without incident off Perth's metropolitan beaches since 1968.

In addition to improving the survival rates of undersized sharks caught on the drum lines, Sea Shepherd and the nosharkcull alliance are urging State and Federal Liberal ministers to consult with the community and consider a range of alternatives to drum lines.

The alliance has been in discussions with community members within the South-West and supported a community forum in Perth, in order to encourage open dialogue about the best way to mitigate shark incidents.

"We welcome and encourage Liberal Party members to open their doors in order to find an alternative solution which the majority of the community will embrace," Mr. Hansen said.

Dead shark at bottom of ocean after capture and release Dead shark at bottom of ocean after capture and release

Apr 08, 2014

Islam Says No to Whale Meat

In response to the ridiculous statement by the Japanese whaling industry that whale meat is halal, meaning it is approved by Islamic law to eat, Sea Shepherd France President Lamya Essemlali has set the record straight on this public relations spin by the Japanese whaling industry.

Lamya Essemlali is a vegan conservationist. She was born in France of Moroccan heritage and raised in a Muslim family. She first sailed on the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat in 2005 and has since led numerous campaigns to defend whales and sharks, fish and eco-systems. – Captain Paul Watson

Halal Whale Meat: The Latest Trickery of the Demonic Whaling Industry

Commentary by Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France and Campaign Leader, Sea Shepherd Global

“Whoever is kind to creatures of God, is kind to himself” - Prophet Mohammed (SWAS)

Sunset over Blue mosqueSunset over Blue mosque
Photo: © Nevit Dilmen found at Wikimedia commons
Recently the Japanese whaling industry came up with one of their most ludicrous statements in their attempt to seduce the 100,000 Muslims living in Japan in an effort to to turn them into whale meat consumers. According to that statement, the Nisshin Maru has been awarded with a certificate declaring that whale slaughter abides by Muslim law - meaning it is halal.

I was raised Muslim, my whole family is Muslim and I am, therefore, very curious to know who signed this certificate and even more curious to know how much he was paid to sell his soul and his faith to the whaling industry?

Indeed, in Islam, in order for meat to be considered halal, the killing of the animals has to meet very strict criteria that are neither met by the whaling industry nor by any sort of industrially produced meat in the world.

Basically, whale meat can be considered halal meat according to the principles of Islam today under the following conditions :

  • That whales are no longer endangered species
  • That the whale must die a quick death with minimal pain
  • That the whale must be killed in the direction of Mecca
  • That pregnant whales must not ever be killed
  • That the name of Allah and the prophet Mohammed (SWAS) is pronounced before the animal is killed.
  • That the person who holds the animal and the person who cuts it must always observe the five times prayer.

The reality of Japanese whaling is:

  • Whales are endangered species.
  • The only way a whale can be killed is after long agonizing suffering which lasts between 30 minutes and 1 hour after the first shot from the explosive harpoon. The brutal process is then often finished with multiple rifle shots.
  • According to the statistics, half of the female whales killed in Antarctic waters are pregnant.
  • Whales have not proven to be very cooperative in positioning themselves in the direction of Mecca in order to be slaughtered.
  • It is very doubtful that the Japanese whalers invoke to Allah and the prophet Mohammed before pulling the trigger of their explosive harpoon and even less likely that the harpooner is observing the five time prayer.
  • In Islam, sacrificial animal slaughter is a very demanding process. Factually, the whole procedure is meant to minimize the killing of animals and I am very curious as to how the whaling industry can pretend to be respecting any of this:

Humpback whales in the Southern OceanHumpback whales in the Southern Ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd
“The person who holds the animal and the person who cuts it must always observe the five times prayer. Therefore, it must be the Imam and the mu’azzin who perform the qurban, because very often they are the only ones who regularly observe the five times prayer. This also means that the qurban must take place near a mosque where two such people can always be found. Before beginning the slaughter, they must first perform their ablutions, and then they must recite the kalimah three times and feed water to the animal which is to be sacrificed. The neck of the animal must be turned in the direction of the Qiblah [Mecca], so that the eyes of the sacrificial animal look into the eyes of the person who is doing the sacrifice. The person must look into the eyes of the animal and then, saying the kalimah, he must cut the neck. And he must continue to look into the eyes of the animal until its soul departs, repeating the Zikr all the while. Then after the soul has departed, he must say the kalimah once again and wash the knife. Only then can he move on to the next animal. He has to look into the animal’s eyes, he has to watch the tears of the animal, and he has to watch the animal’s eyes until it dies – and hopefully, his heart will change.” (M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Asma’ ul-Husna: The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah, 1979, p. 182)

Once, Allah told the Holy Prophet Muhammad, “With this qurban the killing will be greatly reduced, for where they used to kill 1,000 or 2,000 in one day, they will now be able to slaughter only ten or fifteen animals. If they started after morning prayers, it would be ten o’clock by the time they are ready to begin, and they could slaughter only until eleven o’clock when they must prepare for the next prayer. In addition, it takes about fifteen or twenty minutes for each animal, because he has to wait until the soul has departed.” This is how Allah instructed the Holy Prophet.

Claiming that the floating slaughterhouse, the Nisshin Maru, has been granted with a halal certificate, making it lawful for Muslims to eat whale meat that results from the horrible agony of animals belonging to an endangered species, just emphasizes once again how immoral and despicable the whaling industry is, trying to push Muslims into doing exactly the opposite of what Allah wants them to do.

If Islam rules regarding the treatment of animals were respected, billions of animals would be spared a lifetime of suffering. It would be the end of the meat industry and the end of all whaling. So if the Japanese whaling industry truly wants to promote halal meat, it should leave its ships in port, forever. Even zoos and marine parks would be forbidden as per the prophet Mohammed (SWAS) : “It is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power."

Truth is, if the rules of Islam regarding the treatment of animals were followed, millions of Muslims would immediately turn vegetarian as neither whale meat nor any sort of industrial meat can ever be halal. Calling those meats halal is shameful heresy.

Islam also speaks of defending wildlife and as such, whales are certainly concerned and there is no way any sort of whaling could ever be endorsed by Islam. A great illustration of that came up few days ago. Following the recommendations of the Koran, the highest representative of the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, has called on a “fatwa” (moral war) against illegal trafficking of wildlife.

It is also useful to recall the way animals are perceived by the Koran, and compare it with the meat industry, which considers animals to be objects or industrial production units. In Islam, animals are to be considered and respected as part of the divine creation, like humans:

“There is not an animal in the Earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” Verse (6:38)

In that aspect and contrary to most beliefs, even if Islam remains a homocentric religion as other monotheist religions, it clearly demands that animals are respected and provided with care, natural life conditions and food, and minimal pain. None of this is anywhere to be found in the meat industry, as it is impossible to respect those rules in a large-scale production.

As of 2010, more than 1.6 billion people, or about 23.4% of the world's population, are Muslims. Islam has now become the second and fastest growing religion in the world. Therefore, Muslim consumers represent a tremendous market. Like the whaling industry, fast food brands have sniffed this burgeoning opportunity and have come up with the “halal hamburger,” which is in fact no more halal than a whale meat burger or even a bacon cheeseburger. “Halal burgers” are a concentration of agony and pain endured by animals that never had a natural life, nor natural food, that were fed with chemicals and that welcomed death as the end to their suffering. All of which violate the sacred principles of Islam and make this meat undoubtedly haram (forbidden) for the followers of Islam.

Again, if Islam has enjoined Muslims to limit themselves to halal meat, it was in order to greatly reduce the killing of animals. And now the meat industry and the whaling industry are trying to mislead Muslims into eating more meat. The meat which they provide to them.

Coming from a Muslim background myself, I seriously hope that Muslims in Japan won’t be fooled by the recent vicious lie of the whaling industry. And I can only encourage Muslims around the world to read more carefully the holy texts and consider what is truly “halal meat” as described in the holy Kuran and not as it is labeled by the meat industry. Right now, most Muslims feed themselves everyday with haram meat and contribute to the suffering of millions of animals that Islam has been trying to prevent. Muslims are being fooled by the meat industry that has long ago sold its soul to the devil.

On a personal note and all this being said, I must add that being a vegetarian myself, I think that “nothing would benefit the planet, the animals and humankind more than a vegetarian diet.” I am just borrowing this quote from someone who’s got some time to think about it: Albert Einstein.

Apr 08, 2014

The Jolly Roger Flying Proudly in Asia...

Commentary By Gary Stokes – Director of Sea Shepherd Asia

Sea Shepherd China supportersSea Shepherd China supporters
Photo: Gary Stokes / Sea Shepherd
With much of the spotlight constantly falling on Asia when it comes to ocean issues, it is with great pleasure that we can share what we’ve been up to over here in the Orient these past few months and the exciting times ahead for Sea Shepherd Asia.

March saw our first venture into China where we had a booth at the China Dive Show in Guangzhou. I wrongly thought that Sea Shepherd was unknown in China, so was pleasantly surprised when our booth was swamped with excited supporters. Besides selling out of Sea Shepherd merchandise, we had many inquiries into how to volunteer both on land and on the ships from Chinese supporters.

Jaki Teo, who is currently based in the Philippines but also runs Sea Shepherd Singapore along with the legendary Singaporean conservationist Grant Pereira, helped organize this China event. Hearing Jaki (who had just flown in from Taiji where she had been a Cove Guardian) explaining what Sea Shepherd is all about in Mandarin along with her husband Brett was music to my ears. Along with a local team of volunteers we had a very busy weekend and also had a visit from Miss Scuba International and Miss Scuba China. We also signed up many more supporters to our SSCS Weibo account (China’s equivalent of Twitter). The following day we visited the dried seafood markets of Guangzhou, where we filmed the shark fin trade at its worst.

Guangzhou dried seafood marketGuangzhou dried seafood market
Photo: Gary Stokes / Sea Shepherd
The highlight of the weekend however was meeting Ping Bei, a very talented filmmaker who was about to give a presentation on stage. Here I was sitting in the shark fin capital of the world, watching Ping Bei give a talk on shark finning to a large audience in Mandarin. When he showed a snippet of his upcoming Mandarin shark film, the audience was glued to the screen. This was very powerful and gave me a glimmer of hope. It is people like him who will help change the way China thinks about sharks and the ocean in general.

So with the ball now rolling in China, I visited Malaysia last week where I met with Amin Mustapah the director of the newly formed Sea Shepherd Malaysia. We had an event lined up at a high profile mall, but not before a talk at one of Kuala Lumpur’s top universities UNITEN, organized by SSCS supporter Evelyn. With more than 100 students in the audience, Amin and I gave a talk on Sea Shepherd and I was again pleasantly surprised by the level of support we received. The university’s Dean dropped by for part of the talk, and has since invited us to come back and talk to the rest of the school, Thanks again to Evelyn and the wonderful students who came down and helped staff the booth in Publika Mall. We also had a visit from a biker chapter I’d encountered last year, all brandishing Sea Shepherd gear.

I met many incredible people in Kuala Lumpur, but one man was immensely impressive. Anuar Abdullah is a humble divemaster/artist who is mad about coral. We met over a roti and daal breakfast in a street food stall, the best cuisine in Malaysia! Among his first words were “Scientists think I’m crazy!” He then proceeded to tell me about his Coral Propagation Project and how it not only restores damaged reefs but more importantly it empowers the local coastal communities to make an alternative income from eco-tourism, turning them into stewards of the reef. I reassured Anuar that it’s only ‘crazy’ people that will change the world! Whilst sitting with him he received notification that he has been awarded Ocean Ambassador 2014/15 by ADEX, the Singapore-based dive show.

This week I will be travelling to ADEX Singapore to meet Grant Pereira and Jaki Teo and the team of Sea Shepherd Singapore and will also meet with Amin and Anuar for a very exciting announcement we’ll be making at ADEX.

Sea Shepherd Asia is growing from strength to strength in a region that is certainly in need of our work to defend, conserve and protect marine wildlife and their habitats. We will soon be looking to establish Sea Shepherd chapters in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines amongst other countries. Report from ADEX to follow, so don’t touch that dial...

Apr 07, 2014

The Disgusting Truth Behind the Decline of Salmon in the Columbia River

Commentary by Dam Guardian Aaron Hall

Factories like this are commonplace along the banks of the Columbia RiverFactories like this are commonplace along the banks of the Columbia River
Photo: Andrew Lynch / Sea Shepherd
In 2012 and 2013, Sea Shepherd's Dam Guardians stood on the front lines documenting the horrible atrocities that occur in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho because of a federal program that allows these states to remove up to 92 California sea lions per year. While only the California sea lions are able to be forcefully removed or killed, the states have also included the federally protected Steller sea lion in their hazing and deterent efforts. Sea Shepherd continues to oppose the targeting of these sea lions as part of a scapegoat campaign aimed at misdirecting the public's eye from the actual problems - overfishing, the dams themselves, the hatcheries, and pollution.

The Columbia River has a long history of being known as a toxic wasteland. Starting as far back as 1943, a 50-mile stretch of the river in southeastern Washington passes through the Hanford Site, which was a part of the Manhattan Project. Until 1971, pump systems drew water from the river to be treated and used to cool the reactors before being returned back into the river. Nearby aquifiers contain an estimated 270 billion US gallons of groundwater that has been contaminated by high-level nuclear waste that has leaked out of the storage tanks. As of 2008, a staggering 1 million US gallons of highly radioactive waste is traveling through the groundwater directly towards the Columbia with expectations of reaching the river within 12 to 50 years if cleanup is not successful.

In 2012, fish that were caught, and would have been eaten by recreational fishermen, were tested for contaminants present in the Columbia River. At the time, the tests found levels of arsenic, mercury, and PCBs exceeding what is recommended for safe consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency. Testing of sturgeon caught near Astoria revealed levels of PCBs that were more than 7,000 percent above the EPA's safe consumption levels.

One of the many logging facilities you pass along the riverOne of the many logging facilities you pass on the river
Photo: Andrew Lynch / Sea Shepherd
Pollution in the river is not just a historical issue. In February 2014, in British Columbia, between 3,100 and 6,600 US gallons of sodium hydroxide solution was released by Teck Resources into a sewer line that leads to the Regional District sewage plant. This plant ultimately discharges waste into the Columbia River. This is not the first major spill that the company has had as they were successfully sued by the EPA for environmental damages dating back to 1896.

Pollution is not just limited to spills and nuclear waste, however. Driving along the river between the Bonneville Dam and Astoria, OR, you pass facility after facility of the logging operations that occur here in the Pacific Northwest. A fellow Dam Guardian, Andrew Lynch, made the comment “I've never seen a forest laying down before,” as we drove past miles of fallen timber.

Areas along the river are being logged in a manner known as “clear cutting.” This is where an entire section or area of trees is completely wiped out in one fell swoop, which leads to heavy soil erosion due to the removal of natural blockages provided by trees and their roots. The erosion of the soil can often lead to the choking out of streams and the destruction of habitats, as well as increased flood risk in local areas. The roads that are put up, often hastily, during the logging process are also a source of water pollution, as they also disturb the natural defenses that the environment has against soil erosion. Oftentimes, there is gravel that is placed down to help create the road surface which will get ground up into a fine sediment and pushed into the rivers, further damaging the balance of the fragile ecosystem.

The time has come again when the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho have begun their season of hazing, branding, forceful removal and killing of federally protected sea lions along the Columbia River. Please contact the governors of Washington and Oregon to let them know that the sea lions are not the problem and that they should be putting their resources towards correcting the actual issues causing the declines of the salmon run. They should be focusing on the pollution in the river, the predation by humans, and the state of introduced invasive species. While Sea Shepherd will not be running the campaign on the front lines this year, you can still stand loud and proud for the sea lions by e-mailing and giving voice to the voiceless.