photo: IndyMedia UK
Considering that TreeHugger readers seem to be pretty strongly divided on the issue of direct action--to prevent palm oil shipments, stop coal-fired power plants, or stop whaling—this one's bound to illicit some strong feelings. The Guardian brings the story of how anti-whaling activists in Norway have scuttled the whaling ship Skarbakk:
On April 23 a group identifying themselves only as Agenda 21 — named after the UN programme for sustainable development that was often talked about in the 90s but seems to have been completely forgotten about today — crept on to the boat, anchored in Henningsvaer harbour, and used an adjustable spanner to open the salt water intake and flood the engine room.
Before the ship hit bottom fire crews had got to it. However, the ship had already filled with sea water, so damage was extensive and will certainly be expensive. And this is not the first time it's happened.
Here's the statement issued by Agenda 21, from Indy Media UK (all caps is from the original):
"APRIL 24, 2009 HENNINGSVAER, NORWAY
WHALING SHIP SUNK
ON THE EVENING OF THE 23RD OF APRIL WE SNUCK ONTO A NORWEGIAN WHALING SHIP MAKING REPAIRS IN THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS IN PREPARATION FOR THE 2009 WHALING SEASON. TO DELAY THE KILLING SEASON AND TO PROTEST THE CONTINUED ILLEGAL EXPORT OF WHALE MEAT TO JAPAN WE DISASSEMBLED A VALVE AND FLOODED THE ENGINE ROOM. UNFORTUNATELY LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS WERE ABLE TO RESPOND JUST MOMENTS BEFORE THE SHIP SETTLED ON THE BOTTOM BUT NOT BEFORE THE SHIP HAD ALREADY BEEN COMPLETELY FILLED WITH SEA WATER AND THE DAMAGE DONE. FOR BOTH FISHERIES INVESTORS IN TOKYO AND INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS IN OSLO INVESTING IN THE NORWEGIAN WHALING INDUSTRY CAN ONLY LEAD TO SUNKEN PROFITS. AS A DIRECT RESULT OF A GROWING INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES WE CAME TO HENNINGSVAER. WE SAW THE SKARBAKK. WE SANK THE BASTARD. -AGENDA 21"
This is the fourth ship that Agenda 21 has sunk in the past 12 years. And though their actions have caused Norwegian whalers to take out insurance policies against such actions, whaling has not declined.
Norway Exempt From Commercial Whaling Ban
Further complicating things is the fact that due to wrinkles in international law (which don't entirely make sense, except in the world of international law, where you can decide a law doesn't apply to your nation if you're strong enough) Norway is not subject to the moratorium on commercial whaling. So, strictly legally, the only people doing anything wrong here are Agenda 21.
Is Violence in Defense of the Defenseless Permissible?
But there is a strong moral argument to stop whaling: Even if whales were not the highly intelligent creatures that we know them to be, firing explosive harpoons into them seems a particularly brutal hunting method. And that leaves aside questions of declining whale populations, the double speak of killing whales for research purposes, etc.
And except under the strictest interpretations of non-violence, violent acts in defense of community, family and the defenseless (which in this case whales clearly seem to be) are permissible.
However, is a preemptive act such as scuttling a ship in harbor, which though it will be used to kill whales at some point, is not actively engaged in the practice at the time of attack, really justified defense?
via: The Guardian
Direct Action Against Whalers Works! Japan's Whale Catch Falls Short of Targets
Whale Hunting Ban Effective
Greenpeace Activists Arrested for Stealing Whale Meat in Japan
Sea Shepherd Scores One for the Whales, Gets Terrorist Status
Anti-Whaling Warrior, Captain Paul Watson