The Institute of Cetacean Research (日本鯨類研究所 ) is founded in 1947, as a non-profit research organisation specializing in the ''biological and social sciences'' related to whales. Their parent agency is the Japan Fisheries Agency, who represent the fish capitalists of Japan. After the International Whaling Commission ( IWC ) banned commercial whaling in 1986, the ICR was giving the task of hunting whales for the Japanese fish capitalists. Their fleet is made up of six ships. Two harpoon-ships who hunt for whales, one factory ship ( mother-ship ), two spotter ships and one tanker for refuelling!
Every year the fleet of the ICR is leaving Japan to hunt for whales in Antarctica. Their goal is to capture and murder 1000 of them. Although commercial whaling is banned, the weakness in the rules has allowed the ICR to continue whaling under the cloak to research. For almost 20 years, the Japanese were able to get their quota and leave the whale sanctuary with 1000 murdered whales. Greenpeace has protested against this, but the IWC has done nothing to stop the ICR. Although many nations say that Japan is violating the law, nobody took up arms for the whales, not Greenpeace and not the nation of Australia who declared parts of southern Antarctica a sanctuary for whales!
In 2003 the ICR would face its biggest enemy. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, led by Paul Watson decided to disrupt Japanese operations. It began with the Taiji-area dolphin hunts, in which the Japanese would brutally hunt and murder dolphins. Sea Shepherd documented the method used to kill dolphins in the Japanese historic whaling town of Taiji. They say that Japanese fishermen use unnecessarily brutal methods to hunt dolphins. Two years later the crew of the RV Farley Mowat tried to stop the ICR fleet in the Southern Ocean for the first time. During this first battle the Sea Shepherds ''sideswiped'' a Japanese ship called the Oriental Bluebird. No damage or injuries were reported. The government of New Zealand were not happy with Paul Watson's attack and called him a ''rouge pirate''. Watson said he would stop harassing the Japanese, if New Zealand and Australia would enforce the ban of whaling!
Watson founded the Sea Shepherds in 1977 after he was expelled from Greenpeace. He used to be a founding member of that organisation. Unlike Greenpeace, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an organisation of direct action. It will not watch while groups like the ICR violate he banning on commercial whaling. Their tactics are controversial, but Paul Watson said; "I did not establish the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a protest organization,” “I have not gone to sea over all these years to simply bear witness to the atrocities that whalers continue to inflict upon the most gentle and intelligent beings in the seas. We are sea cops — operating legally under the guidelines of the United Nation's World Charter for Nature, which allow for the enforcement of international conservation law by non-governmental organizations in international jurisdictions."
In February 2007, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the the Institute of Cetacean Research fought another battle. Two Sea Shepherd ships attacked one ICR ship as it pursued a group of minke whales. The RV Farley Mowat and MV Robert Hunter ( now called MV Steve Irwin ) threw smoke bombs on the deck of the ICR vessel as it tried to murder whales. The Japanese fought back and tried to push the MV Robert Hunter into the ice. According to Paul Watson the ICR ship then collided deliberately into the port stern section of the MV Robert Hunter, causing damage to the hull!
A year later the Canadian government was able to capture the RV Farley Mowat, when it tried to film the murder of seals. Canada banned the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society from entering the area were the hunters were killing seals. Although the Canadians banned the Sea Shepherds from entering Canadian waters, the RV Farley Mowat did entered and was captured by the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship was impounded and kept by Canada for five years. At the time of its capture the RV Farley Mowat was registered in the Netherlands, so it was a Dutch ship!
Operation Migaloo was the code name for the 2007/2008 operation of the Sea Shepherds to stop the ICR fleet. Captain Paul Watson was in command of the MV Steve Irwin the former MV Robert Hunter, renamed after the death of Steve Irwin an Australian wildlife expert, television personality and conservationist. The MV Steve Irwin was made up of volunteers who supported the direct action methods of Paul Watson. Their main enemy was the mother-ship of the ICR fleet the MV Nisshin Maru. This huge vessel is able to process 10 whales a day and turn them into products of the Japanese fish markets. It was this ship the MV Steve Irwin targeted.
While the crew of the RV Steve Irwin was fighting the Japanese, their actions were filmed by Animal Planet for the series; Whale Wars. This show made Paul Watson and his organisation famous. Although governments and Greenpeace criticized the series, Watson used it to further his goals. During Operation Musashi the next year, the Sea Shepherds were unable to prevent the Japanese fleet from killing whales right before their eyes. Learning from the previous year, the ICR prepared their fleet to defend themselves against the Shea Shepherds. A new weapon of the ICR during the 2008/2009 season was a Long Range Acoustic Device or LRAD, a sonic weapon that caused pain to hearing. With their ships covert in nets and armed with sonic weapons, the Japanese were able to withstand the attacks of the Sea Shepherds!
The 2008/2009 season also showed that the ICR was getting more aggressive against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. While passive the first years, the Harpoon ships of the whaling fleet were used to prevent the RV Steve Irwin from attacking the mother-ship. After a long battle with the vessels of the ICR, the Sea Shepherds returned to Australia, were the police seized film material and the ships logs. The Japanese government called upon the government of Australia to prevent what they considered violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea!
Revolutionary socialists see the battles of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Institute of Cetacean Research as a classic fight between people and capital. The capitalists of the Japanese fish industry use the ICR to murder whales under their cloak of ''scientific research''. Paul Watson and his direct action organisation represent the willingness to fight this injustice, against the might of Japan and the capitalist system and his right-wing politicians. Few people in Japan eat whale meat. Only 5% of the Japanese people are reported to buy products made from whales. Yet these 5% are still a market and many millions are made each year. In 2002 you paid almost 57 dollars for one kilogram of whale meat. We know that in 1997 more then 20 million dollars in profits were made by killing 1000 whales, this was before the Sea Shepherds intervened. Now the profits are much lower, thanks to the heroic actions of Paul Watson and his crew!