While it should not be forgotten how WikiLeaks shone a spotlight into a murky corner of the ‘whale wars’ between the Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd radical marine conservation organisation, there is also the strange coincidence that both organisations’ leaders are ‘on the run’ at the same time – presumably in different locations.
With WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, still holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy, meanwhile the legendary founder and leader of US-based Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson, has disappeared after jumping bail in Germany. Interpol had issued an arrest warrant following extradition requests from both Japan and Costa Rica, the latter related to an incident in 2002 between Sea Shepherd and some shark-finners.
With the annual confrontations in the southern seas between Sea Shepherd and whalers becoming ever more violent to the point it is incredible that nobody has died,Sea Shepherd’s actions became so politically embarrassing for the Japanese that several years ago they raised the matter with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Thanks to WikiLeaks we know that Japan and the US proposed to investigate and act against Sea Shepherd as part of a political deal to reduce whaling in Antarctic waters.
The American proposal would have forced Japan to reduce the number of whales that it killed each year in the Antarctic whale sanctuary in return for the legal right to hunt other whales off its own coasts. Covertly the US would also harass Sea Shepherd via tax investigations and economic pressure while overtly calling for ratification of laws that would “guarantee security in the seas” – a reference to acting against groups such as Sea Shepherd. The US proposal was eventually shot down by Britain and the EU in June 2010. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre