My new hero: Hideki Moronuki

[Update 15 July 2010: There is identity confusion in this post. See my update.]

Photograph of Hideki Moronuki

Hideki Moronuki Minoru Morimoto (pictured) is the Japanese Fisheries Agency’s chief of whaling. While I’m reasonably sure I’m not in favour of whaling, and certainly not if people are fibbing about its true purpose, you’ve got to admire his ballsy, direct language.

In a lengthy opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald last Monday, Moronuki Morimoto defends Japan’s “scientific whaling” with the observation that to commercially manage forests, fisheries and other “natural living resources” but not whales makes no sense. He dismisses as a “fallacy” that there must be one commercial activity (whale watching) to the exclusion of the other (whaling).

There are enough whales for both those that want to watch them and those who want to eat them.

I fully respect the right of Australians to oppose whaling for some “cuddly” reasons, but this does not give them the right to coerce others to end a perfectly legal and culturally significant activity that poses no threat to the species concerned.

And on Wednesday, with two of Sea Shepherd‘s unruly wankers aboard his ship, he said the pair would be given an opportunity to try whale meat while aboard the ship.

Hat-tip on that last quote to The Road to Surfdom.

63 Replies to “My new hero: Hideki Moronuki”

  1. “for some reason the Ady Gil was sitting dead in the water in front of the Shonan Maru 2”

    But they weren’t. Look at the footage closely. The boat clearly accelerates into the path of the ship, you can see the spray/ troth (sorry, not very good with nautical terms) at the rear of the boat just prior to the collision.

    Let’s also not forget that the Ady Gil is an extremely fast boat; if they’d wanted to get out of the way they easily could have, even at the last moment. But they don’t. They accelerate into the path of the Japanese ship.

    1. “for some reason the Ady Gil was sitting dead in the water in front of the Shonan Maru 2″

      Gee I wonder why !!

  2. This will be my last comment for a few hours. I have some client work to focus on today. I’ll catch up again tonight. However I will keep an eye on the moderation queue every half hour or so, so new commenters will get published.

    @weez and @Duncan Riley: I’ve looked at the footage quite a few times now and I’m not at all sure it’s clear what happened. There’s waves. There’s turbulence. There are always delays between steering orders being given and the helm responding. We can’t see what was happening in, say, the two or three minutes before the collision which might help us understand what the two captains thought they were seeing, or how they might have imagined the two craft would behave next.

    weez, you’re confident you’re seeing a ship deliberately turning into a stationary boat. Duncan is equally confident he’s seeing a boat accelerate into the path of a ship. I’m seeing things happening quickly with indications either way — and I’m not confident that I could choose between either of those scenarios.

    According to the ABC, Australia has no jurisdiction over the investigation — no Australian ships, no Australians injured — but that Maritime New Zealand will be investigating the collision because the Ady Gil is registered there.

  3. Two things that I find interesting:

    The quality of the media management & messaging of the Sea Shepherd team. They have all the right sound grabs (war, kill, death) and video grabs to make television. Without this, they would largely ignored. The crafting of english-language rhetoric vs. the Japanese makes for a totally one-sided affair. Any PR representative out of NZ or Australia is pilloried.

    The constant discussion of rules of the sea, sinking boats and brave souls jumping on other ships like terrorists et al have overwhelmed the nastiness of whale’s blood and dead animals. My thinking is that the news organisations in Australia have found that dead/dying animals have less impact (as people turn away) vs. episodes of Antarctica’s Top Sea Collisions style shows.

  4. Sea Shepherd didn’t do anything wrong. They have never injured a person or animal in 31 years. They have never been arrested. They only harass, using stink bombs, pie filling, a harmless laser, unlike the whalers who use lethal means to keep killing the Great Whales and now to kill the brave people on the Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gill. The whalers have even shot bullets and thrown heavy brass hardware at the heads of the Sea Shepherd crew. They aim to do bodily harm. Out of 7 billion people on this planet, only 77 are willing to go out and try to save the Great Whales.

    Here’s some good reading from the last IWC ‘meeting’.

    [Stilgherrian writes: I have edited this comment to remove what was the entire text of the article For the Whales We Weep Before Forever We Sleep by Sea Shepherd founder “Captain” Paul Watson, published on 29 June 2009 on Sea Shepherd’s website. Since that website does not give clear permission to re-use material — and republishing the entire article certainly isn’t “fair dealing”! — I encourage you instead to read the piece in its original context. I think it’s actually quite good in terms of illustrating Watson’s emotional connection to the great whales, as he calls them, and his opinion of the International Whaling Commission meeting he was attending.]

    1. bj needs to read a little more about Sea Shepherd’s history. They have been arrested. They have injured people. They have sunk ships. Their actions at the moment could potentially cause injury to some of the Japanese — and any injury in the Southern Ocean, particularly one that involves an involuntary dip in the water, can be serious indeed.

    2. bj on 08 January 2010 at 2:53 pm:

      Sea Shepherd didn’t do anything wrong. They have never injured a person or animal in 31 years. They have never been arrested. They only harass, using stink bombs, pie filling, a harmless laser, unlike the whalers who use lethal means to keep killing the Great Whales and now to kill the brave people on the Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gill. The whalers have even shot bullets and thrown heavy brass hardware at the heads of the Sea Shepherd crew. They aim to do bodily harm. Out of 7 billion people on this planet, only 77 are willing to go out and try to save the Great Whales.


  5. ~500,000 Antarctic Minke whales

    ~10,000 will die every year (based on their 50 year lifetime)

    Japan is harvesting < 1,000 per year.

    Seems sustainable

    They are not big, but way too big to farm. Seems scientifically sustainable?

  6. I watched the twitter comments the day of the crash & was amazed that people don’t seem to understand or accept that it is possible to take a stance against the Sea Shepherd organisation YET be anti-whaling. As Stil says, people are reacting emotionally & rational thinking has been suspended.

    Generally I am not a fan of direct action but have been a cautious supporter of the Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns for many years now. Cautious in that I re-assess my support each year and often each time an incident occurs. I believe Paul Watson dances a very fine line of remaining on the side of law abiding, possible crosses it too.

    Late last year I had a personal tour of the Steve Irwin and spent some time talking with a couple of the crew. They were no adrenaline junkies, they appeared to be passionate believers in the Sea Shepherd’s cause and willing to take non-violent direct action to achieve an end to the Japanese whaling season. I was quietly impressed by what I saw and heard. Could I have been fooled in to supporting this “pirate” organisation? Possibly. I remain open to that possibility given how well Paul Watson uses the media to garner support.

    I chose to support the Sea Shepherd out of frustration at how slow progress at the government-government level takes. Yes, Peter Garrett has been working hard on this issue. It is a long-winded diplomatically cautious battle. The legal aspects of whaling are a further complication. That’s politics for you. And money (obviously there must be big profits in whale meat). But in the meantime I had no problems with the idea of direct action being taken on a non-violent basis to disrupt the Japanese whaling season.

    I looked at both videos of the incident provided by the Steve Irwin and the SM2. It’s too difficult to call who was in the right, who was in the wrong as far as the collision is concerned. We do need to await the findings of the NZ Maritime investigation.

    The findings of the investigation will allow me to determine whether or not I continue to financially support the Sea Shepherd. For the interim, I’m not sure. I’m tending to think I will suspend my support. Temporarily at least. I hope. And I will re-assess it all again next year. And the year after that. I ask that other supporters of the Sea Shepherd also re-assess their support, have a critical look at the organisation, its campaigns (I have only supported their anti-whaling activities) and incidents. Take into consideration what our governments have or have not achieved on this issue. Then make a decision. Emotions should not be a factor.

  7. @Nick Hodge: Oh Sea Shepherd’s media management is superb! They get their footage and their version of events into the news stream fast, and they stay on-message.

    They have also, as you point out, realised that commercial news doesn’t want to run images of slaughtered whales at dinner time, but a few good boat crashes are another story.

    All in all, great work. If your aim is to get onto TV, that is, as opposed to, say, ending “scientific” whaling. And that’s where my questions lie. Is this the best use of resources, both from a PR point of view and a policy change point of view? Has the thrill of participating in direct action clouded the original goal? I don’t know.

    But I do know that if an organisation puts itself in a situation where it can be portrayed as irresponsible eco-terrorists then that can make their PR more difficult.

    But Jesus, man, don’t point out that the IWC may be achieving its purpose and returning whale stocks to sustainably-huntable levels! Some sort of implosion will happen!

    @Simon Rumble: And, to add you your fact-checking about Sea Shepherd, it’s worth remembering that this incident where Paul Watson is supposed to have copped a bullet in his flak jacket was witnessed solely by him, and he’s already said that telling the truth is irrelevant.

    @Desertgirl: That’s the dilemma, isn’t it. Agree with the aims, but have questions about the methods. Yes, the results of this Maritime New Zealand inquiry will be very interesting indeed.

    @bj: Erm, “and now to kill the brave people on the Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gill [sic]”? No-one died. I think you’ll also find that Sea Shepherd are not the only people fighting whaling on this planet.

  8. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Antarctic Minke Whale is not under significant extinction threat from humans The catch in the 2005/2006 season was 853 (Miyashita and Kato 2006). Otherwise, Antarctic minke whales are not subject to any substantially known direct anthropogenic threats. from source:

    853 seems like way too many for scientific purposes. The Japanese must be eating them. In fact, their present Government says so: “We have a tradition here in Japan of eating whale meat,” said Mr Okada.


    Who are we to stop a tradition? It is not our right to stop a cultural norm in another country when it has little to no impact on us, nor the species in question.

    It seems that the Japanese crews may also go after the Fin Whale and other baleen whales. These are on the Red List — and this is definitely worth watching out for.

    But not by sea-borne terrorism or YouTube-stunts. A human will die, and I think this is beyond toleration.

  9. There’s some interesting commentary on the videos of the collision over at Lavatrus Prodeo in a post entitled Sea Shepherd and the ICR play chicken over whaling.

    I’m still not sure what to think myself. I’ve watched it all a few more times. The only thing that is clear to me is that both captains must’ve made sudden decisions in those last few seconds. Combined, those decisions led to a collision. Whether a collision was the desired outcome for one, both or neither of the captains is something that remains to be seen.

  10. Over the weekend, Sea Shepherd announced that they’re requesting piracy charges be laid against the operators of the Shonan Maru 2. Sea Shepherd’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said:

    “This particular ship that attacked the Ady Gil was at a close distance all the time since they left the Australian harbour.

    “It was sent out and equipped for following and harassing” the Ady Gil.”

    Erm, in exactly the same way that the Ady Gil, Bob Barker and Steve Irwin we’re “sent out and equipped for following and harassing” the whalers.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Sea Shepherd also wants to file attempted murder charges, “either in the United States, New Zealand, or Japan itself,” says founder Paul Watson.

    Oh, and in relation to that second ABC story linked to, Paul Watson is certainly not “captain of Sea Shepherd’s flagship Steve Irwin.” Despite his grandiose title Master and Commander of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society voyages, Wikipedia says that title is only “in reference to his role in the organisation” as he has never been licensed as a ship’s captain.

    Maybe I should start calling myself the Imperial Admiral of Enmore…

    1. @Nick Hodge: For those of us who like me had to look it up, “LRH” is L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. According to the Wikipedia entry Military career of L Ron Hubbard:

      According to Scientology publications, he served as a “Commodore of Corvette squadrons” in “all five theatres of World War II” and was awarded “twenty-one medals and palms” for his service. He was “severely wounded and was taken crippled and blinded” to a military hospital, where he “worked his way back to fitness, strength and full perception in less than two years, using only what he knew and could determine about Man and his relationship to the universe.”

      However, his official Navy service records indicate that “his military performance was, at times, substandard”, that he was only awarded a handful of medals and that he was never injured or wounded in combat and was never awarded a Purple Heart. Most of his military service was spent ashore in the continental United States on administrative or training duties. He briefly commanded two anti-submarine vessels, the USS YP-422 and USS PC-815, in coastal waters off Massachusetts, Oregon and California in 1942 and 1943 respectively. He was removed from command of both vessels and rated by his superiors as being unsuitable for independent duties and “lacking in the essential qualities of judgement, leadership and cooperation”. Although Hubbard asserted that he had attacked and crippled or sunk two Japanese submarines off Oregon while in command of the USS PC-815, his claim was rejected by the commander of the Northwest Sea Frontier after a subsequent investigation. He was hospitalised for the last seven months of his active service, not with injuries but with an acute duodenal ulcer.

      The article explains in detail the controversy surrounding his Hubbard’s claims, and even an incident where he “disregarded orders by carrying out an unsanctioned gunnery practice and violating Mexican waters”. Whacko.

  11. It seems that the World’s Greatest Antarctic Sea Collisions show has not been a good cut-through piece of footage. The “accident” has just ended up in International Lawyers preparing to meet at dawn in a duel. Lawyers do not make good TV.

    And good TV is required to keep Mr and Mrs Middle Australia Whale lovers to open up their credit cards and support the continuing battle of the Antarctica.

    I did notice that a pleasant looking, Australian accented man describe the reasoning for throwing rancid butter onto the Whaling ships. This is not good imagery for Mr and Mrs Middle Australia: having been raised on school lunch dairy and Celebrity Chef.

    I forsee another stunt of the level of illegal boarding; a cross between The Real Pirates of Somalia and R. L. Stephenson’s Kidnapped. Some brave souls are going to be video-d jumping across freezing waters onto the hull of a whaling ship hoisting a “Call 1-800 Sea Shepherd to Donate” with a pleasant whale picture on the bulkhead.

    Maybe the Japanese could extend this by offloading the hippies at Yokohama with just the clothes on their back, a couple of kilos of whale meat and no money. Film this as a Japanese reality/competition game show. Now that might get the viewers.

  12. The worlds focus on whales = Paul Watson gets richer (how much money does sea shepherd make?)

    The worlds focus on whales = the thing destroying the oceans, factory fishing is ignored.

    The worlds focus on whales = Japans role in this is ignored (sashimi anyone?)

    The worlds focus on whales = all those fish eaters continue to chow down on their fish and chips and proclaim themselves greenies

    1. How much does SS make ? Millions. Admiral Watshisname likes the good things in life so without whaling he might have to go slumming and stay in nine star accommodation instead of ten and eat meat pies instead of filet mingon.

  13. @HEY TRUE BLUE: I have published most of your comments, but I’ve deleted some material which clearly had the potential to be defamatory under Australian law. If you’re going to make the kind of allegations you made there, you had better be prepared to back them up with evidence.

    I reckon you could have made your points much better with one consolidated comment. A series of five screeching comments studded with SEQUENCES IN ALL-CAPS comes across as a little unhinged, to be honest. It’s not in keeping with the style of discussion I prefer here.

  14. What about hunting dolphins? It’s not Japanese culture to eat dolphin. Why are they herding and slaughtering dolphins?

  15. I apologize, but I don’t understand the logic that supports fishing or hunting of any species that has been sent to the brink of extinction. And even hunting whales under the guise of research makes no sense.

    Just because this man is plainspoken and pithy doesn’t make him right. If you don’t know about whale ecology, why would you support someone without knowing the impact of his words? I’m sure many genocidal leaders garnered support with catchphrases…

    If there are still concerns about endangered whales species, then there are obviously NOT enough whales for those who want to eat them and those who want to watch them. These days most Japanese people don’t eat whale anymore anyway, and there’s no deep cultural connection to whaling like there is for the Yukip of St. Lawrence. I’m not concerned with whether we are talking about a blue whale or a sperm whale or a dolphin. We don’t need to hunt them, and the argument that they are hurting the fisheries is rubbish. We just haven’t learned anything…

  16. @Nicole: I think some of your confusion might be explained by two things you say. “I don’t understand the logic that supports fishing or hunting of any species that has been sent to the brink of extinction”, and “I’m not concerned with whether we are talking about a blue whale or a sperm whale or a dolphin. We don’t need to hunt them”.

    One of the most important threads running through this discussion has been that not all whale species are the same. Some, agreed, are endangered — or as you far more emotionally put it, “sent to the brink of extinction”. Some are not. But you seem to be deliberately choosing not to look at those distinctions.

    I should probably also point you to the second sentence of my original post, where I point out that I don’t necessarily support whaling. What I do support is rational discussion of the issues without larding the debate with emotive crap like “I’m sure many genocidal leaders garnered support with catchphrases”.

    I don’t thing anyone is suggesting that we consume any species that has been “sent to the brink of extinction”. To lump all cetaceans into “the whales” and, because some species might be endangered, to use that as a case for supporting that none should be hunted, well, that’s disingenuous, isn’t it?

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