Sea Shepherd Harassment Limited Japan's Whaling Negotiation Flexibility: Wikileaks

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This particular leaked cable from Wikileaks hits strangely close to home: The activities of Sea Shepherd are of course the subject of the Animal Planet series Whale Wars, the fourth season of which begins this summer. Image:

The latest green-themed Wikileaks release concerns Sea Shepherd, the Japanese government, and tells us what we pretty much already knew: Sea Shepherd harassment of the whaling fleet did indeed curtail Japan's whale catch and that the organization's activities were a major concern for Japan, influencing their willingness to negotiate during IWC negotiations in 2009.WATCH VIDEO: Animal Planet Videos: Whale Wars

Spanish newspaper El País initially wrote about the leaked cable (with a number of factual errors, which Sea Shepherd was happy to correct in their response). But here's the relevant passage from the original cable, created on November 9, 2009.

Commenting on the activities of Sea Shepherd, the director of Japan's Fisheries Agency was reported as saying (emphasis is mine):

There are two factors outside the current Future of the IWC negotiations that influence Japan's negotiating position. First, a negative outcome in the vote at next year's IWC intersessional meeting on Greenland's proposal to catch ten humpback whales could derail the work of the Support Group. Greenland's proposal has the backing of the IWC's Scientific Committee and another rejection at the IWC plenary meeting could make the overall compromise being discussed impossible. Second, the violent protests by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) could limit the GOJ's flexibility in the negotiations. He said the Netherlands should have primary responsibly for taking action against the SSCS, but he appreciates the USG initiative to address the group's tax exempt status. He said action on the SSCS would be a major element for Japan in the success of the overall negotiations. Ms. Medina replied that she hopes to work out differences with the EU on Greenland's proposal on humpback whales prior to the March 2010 IWC intersessional meeting and include the issue in the overall agreement. Regarding the SSCS, she said she believes the USG can demonstrate the group does not deserve tax exempt status based on their aggressive and harmful actions.

The Ms. Medina mentioned in the passage is US representative to the International Whale Commission, Monica Medina. As for why the Netherlands is named, Sea Shepherd ships sail under the Dutch flag.

In a written deconstruction of the El País account of the cable, Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said:

Medina failed to convince the EU and Australia to support the compromise. Japan seemed to be obsessed with Sea Shepherd's interference against their whaling activities at this meeting. Japan's request for the Netherlands to act against Sea Shepherd failed to solicit any action from the Netherlands. Monica Medina of course had no authority to speak on the issue of tax status because she was not authorized to do so by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Department of State. No harmful or aggressive actions have been proven against Sea Shepherd and no charges have been filed against Sea Shepherd by Japan or any other nation over the issue of whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Here, again, is the original cable: Wikileaks
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Sea Shepherd Harassment Limited Japan's Whaling Negotiation Flexibility: Wikileaks

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