Peaceful protestors picket Japanese Fisheries boat Print
Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:00

Peaceful protestors picket Japanese Fisheries boat

By Mikaela Ian Pearman, Royal Gazette, 12 Jan 2008

Photo by Chris Burville

Protestors brandish signs and chant slogans as they demonstrate around a Japanese Fisheries Agency patrol ship Mihama docked at pier six on Front Street yesterday. The sign reads "World's most destructive fishing fleet" in the form of the Japanese flag.

During a peaceful protest of a Japanese fisheries patrol boat being allowed to dock in Bermuda, Police denied the organiser of presenting the captain of the boat a gift. Mihama, the Fisheries Agency of Japan patrol vessel, has been docked on Front Street since Tuesday.

According to organiser, Andrew Stevenson, the point of the peaceful demonstration was to draw Bermudians' attention what he called "the tragedy of ocean commons where out on the high seas, fishing vessels continue to plunder with impunity the world's marine resources through longlining bottom trawling, illegal fishing and overfishing".

Close to 50 protesters attended the demonstration in front of the boat at Number six shed on Front Street at 3.45 p.m. holding signs saying "Stop Overfishing", "Save Our Whales", "Research?", "Please Leave Some Fish For Us" and "Killing 1000 whales is not research".

The protesters stood in front of the boat chanting "Save the whales, stop the slaughter" while those protesters who came by boat honked their horns numerous times throughout the 45-minute protest. The crew of Mihama took pictures of the protesters while the captain filmed the event with a small camcorder. At 4.15 p.m., Mr. Stevenson got off his boat to address the crowd.

He explained the protest was a peaceful demonstration to raise awareness in the Island of what Japanese fisheries boats have been doing.

"What we're doing here today is joining in an attempting to raise awareness of the Fisheries Agency of Japan.


"They hunt whales in Antarctica. Whales can be hunted for scientific research but they are using the loophole. If they can do it there, I believe they can do it here. Japan is overfishing."

Mr. Stevenson said sending a Japanese patrol vessel to patrol the Japanese fishing vessels is like sending a fox out to guard the chickens because no one has an idea what they are actually doing.

"It's an out of sight, out of mind thing. Right now, our oceans are being plundered. In 40 years time, the major fishing industries will have collapsed. This is an awareness meeting."

Protester Kyla Smith, 20, said she got involved because she wants to be a conservationist.

"I thought why not help the cause. Just really spread awareness. This ship has some balls being here thinking that it can be done under our noses."

At the end of the protest, Mr. Stevenson and his daughter Elsa attempted to present the captain of the boat with a model humpback whale as a gift for taking the mammals off their hunting list.

However, a Police officer on duty would not allow them to get near the boat saying he wanted to keep things peaceful.

The purpose of Mihama is to inspect Japanese fishing fleets in the Atlantic.

The Government-owned fisheries agency of Japan conducts whaling under the guise 'scientific research' killing more than a thousand whales in Antarctica.

The Japanese are said to have one of the worst fish conservation records in the world and fish illegally.

Australia recently sued Japan for taking Bluefin tuna in their waters under permits granted to Japan by Australia.

In an e-mail, Mr. Stevenson explained there has been a loss of 90 per cent of the pelagic predator fish including marlin, tuna, swordfish and great sharks.

He said the Japanese have killed more than 25,000 whales in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific.

This year, they added 50 humpbacks, which were removed from the list, and 50 fin whales to the 935 total number of whales to be hunted for their 'research'.

They claim to study the stock structure, feeding behaviour, but the meat is sold commercially.