Dzieza, Josh, Newsweek
Byline: Josh Dzieza
Japanese Whaling founders.
Japan's government-subsidized whaling program is in dire straits. Last week the Institute of Cetacean Research, as the program is called, reported a $20.5 million loss, and blamed the activist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society for making them abandon their Antarctic hunt two weeks early.
"We're happy to take the blame for that," jokes Peter Hammarstedt, the 27-year-old captain of the Bob Barker, a mid-century Norwegian whaler that the environmental group uses to stop Japanese ships, which kill several hundred whales a year. Japan claims it is merely conducting legal if lethal research, permitted under the international whaling moratorium, but the scientific merit of the studies has been widely questioned and the whale meat is sold to the Japanese public. "It's illegal going on 26 years," Hammarstedt claims. "The time for negotiation is over."
Sea Shepherd is a vigilante splinter of Greenpeace started by Paul Watson, a cofounder of the environmental group who was exiled for the bellicose act of throwing a seal hunter's club in the ocean. Hammarstedt himself found Greenpeace too gentle for his tastes. "Greenpeace is a protest organization," he says. "We are a law-enforcement organization. Our goal is to shut these guys down." To that end, Sea Shepherd rams ships, hurls stink bombs, and fouls propellers. In 2010 the front of its yacht was shorn off by a whaling ship, an event captured by a film crew from Animal Planet's Whale Wars, providing Sea Shepherd with attention far more valuable than the $1. …