Furuno supports whale slaughter? Or Sea Shepherd BS?

Sea_Shepard_vs_Furuno_cPanbo.JPG

I don’t like what some Japanese companies, supported by their government, are doing to whales, but I’m smart enough to know that a reasonable alternative to Sea Shepherd’s nasty headline above might be: “Furuno won’t give (or sell) Sea Shepherd a new radar because its government asked it not to.”  Or: “Furuno won’t support protesters who ram Japanese ships.”  Or maybe: “Furuno wants nothing to do with an arrogant jerk like Captain Paul Watson!”…


At some point last winter — absent my spouse, who wouldn’t have tolerated it — I watched a whole season or more of Whale Wars in a few nights, and was probably yelling at the TV by the end.  I developed a deep dislike for Paul Watson, founder and unapologetic potentate of the Sea Shepard Conservation Society, particularly the way he treats the endless stream of bright-eyed, well-meaning volunteers who cycle rapidly through his vessels.  One thing for sure:  If you cross Watson in any way, then by definition you support, probably even enjoy, the slaughter of whales.  Watson’s enemy list, incidentally, includes Greenpeace and many other more law abiding conservation organizations.
   So I don’t think the Australian who wrote me yesterday, or anyone else, should cross Furuno off their nautical shopping list just because of Sea Shepherd’s accusation, no matter how much it rattles around the blogosphere.  But here’s the weird thing:  As obnoxious as Watson is, I do think he has a point.  As I understand it, Japanese whalers are violating the consensus of nations as expressed by the ongoing International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, killing many whales under the guise of research when the actual goal is to sell the meat.  It also makes sense to me for this planet of carnivores to give whales a pass, as I believe they are special.
   And I have some real experience with whales, having spent large chunks of 1980 and ’81 on a vessel researching humpbacks off the Dominican Republic. The remarkable intelligence and gentleness of these animals is not something imagined by do-gooders; it’s a fact.  In the mid 90’s I also happened on the scene below, a humpback being butchered on Petit Nevis, with half the residents of Bequia (in the background) joyously attending.  And though I knew that everywhere else in the North Atlantic these poor whales just get ogled at by humans, I got into what I thought was a legitimate indigenous fishery (exempt from the moratorium) carried out in an open boat powered only by sail and oars.  I even enjoyed some meat cooked over an open fire.
   In fact, a year or so later when Save the Whales asked to use my photographs for a presentation to the IWC, I was at first reluctant.  But then I learned that they helped to prove that the Bequians had indeed harpooned a baby first, and then the mother who came to its rescue.  That’s illegal even for the indigenous fishery, and pretty gross, as a baby humpback is as innocently curious as human child.  I also learned that Japan gives more foreign aid than any other country to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which in turn always votes with Japan at the IWC, like several other small but well aided Caribbean nations.  The oddly large fishing facility next to the airport in Bequia also came to make sense after my schooling.  If and when the IWC lets the fishermen below export their catch, maybe even take more humpbacks using modern equipment, the parties on Petit Nevis will end and instead the whales will be hauled up the big ramp, butchered quickly, and iced for air travel half way around the world.
   Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd have a point, but they push it in a way that just seems to inflame the conflict between those countries that want to continue whaling and those that don’t.  What could break the current impasse in the right direction, I think, is if more citizens of the pro-whaling nations could ignore the war a bit and really look at the issue.  It’s not black and white, as you can read here, and here.  Altogether, then, I strongly defend the right of Furuno Inc. management to show respect for their government, and hope they can ignore the howling of Paul Watson, but I also hope they will exercise their individual rights to study the state of whales and whaling and come to their own conclusions.

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

42 Responses

  1. Thinks4self says:

    Thanks for an honest blog as always. I love visiting and reading your site. The Sea Shepherd’s blog is extreme and any reader, whom is honest with him/herself, knows that there must be more to the story. I support the whales, but after seeing how they smear, and slant, I will never let a penny of my money go to this organization. Furuno is an international company that employees many people outside of Japan. How does pushing more people onto unemployment lines help the whales? The Sea Shepherd blog reads like a spoiled child wrote it. Someone else could easily say that Furuno doesn’t support terrorist, about this same event. They must have been sitting around a long time trying to figure out how to make the title sound as slanted as possible. I don’t blame Furuno for the killing of whales, or staying as far away from these extremist as possible. I would feel better if Furuno had posted some kind of response on the subject. I suppose it is the culture. Look how bad Toyota handled it’s recent setbacks. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. Of course when you consider the source… maybe they are best ignored. God save us all from what we are doing to this world, not just the whales. Maybe if we work constructively, in time whaling will be stopped. I just don’t believe attacking Furuno solves anything.

  2. Scott E says:

    That is AWESOME! Furuno just went up a notch in my book. I’m not for whaling any more than I am for any non-sustainable fishing, but when they go around ramming other boats (and then lying about doing so) they deserve the short end of the stick. But really, the best way to deal with jerks like these folks is just to ignore them, everytime a media outlet publishes a story, it helps this idiots out. Let’s all just ignore them…

  3. Benoit says:

    I will sell with pleasure, at my purchase price, any FURUNO products to SeaShepherd. 🙂
    Their last red tuna opération (photos) :
    http://www.lepoint.fr/operation-blue-rage-le-capitaine-watson-libere-800-thons-rouges-24-06-2010-957852_19.php?pic=1#newdiapo

  4. Benoit says:

    Just because I’m always on the side of the weakest. But my English does not permit me to debate it with you, unfortunately.
    You have a state (Japan) in a side, and a little boat in an other. For red tuna it’s several states… And just few fisherman who work ten days by year, who make a good lobbying. We need to change our production/consumtion, and if we can’t, SeaShepherd’s method will be the state’s methods, one day.

  5. TimT says:

    Remember that it isn’t just Japan that hunts whales under the guise of “research”. Norway does too. A few years ago I had a job in Bodo, in Northern Norway, and there was a hut on the quayside selling whale meat. Obviously this wouldn’t be possible if the whales were caught for research.
    Tim

  6. ScottF says:

    Free enterprise should rule. I don’t personally think that killing and eating whales is a good idea nor do I think that Sea Shephards radical tactics are the best way to stop it. But personal views should be kept out of this debate. FURUNO should not take sides and should sell their equipment to anyone that wants to buy it including the Sea Shephards. By blocking the sale of equipment or attempting to block it ( I am sure Paul found a way to get whatever equipment he needed) FURUNO is discriminating. When Joe citizen goes into his local NMEA dealer to buy electronics for his Boat he does not have to justify the purchase with anything but the proper amount of cash and that is how free enterprise should be. I don’t think that FURUNO should donate products to Sea Shephards nor to the Japanese whaling fleet but if either side wants to buy the products they should have the same access as anyone else.

  7. Russ says:

    It was a silly move by Furuno. Their equipment is widely available and Sea Sheperd certainly won’t have trouble purchasing whatever they want. It may look good for their many customers in the Japanese fishing fleet, including the whaling fleet, but it’s pretty clumsy overall. I’m not going to boycott Furuno any more than I boycott Boeing for making missles that kill civilians.
    Strong personalities polarize opinion. Who cares if Watson is likeable or not?
    Japan, Norway and Iceland all ignore the international ban on whaling and the international community has ignored their violations for over twenty years. To paraphrase von Clausewitz – “war is diplomacy carried on by another means”. Until the international community decide to do something, if Sea Sheperd’s crews are willing to risk their lives to enforce an international treaty on behalf of the whales I won’t fault them.

  8. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    This is the best Furuno could do, when some pirates like Paul Watson arrives on the scene, we should all turn our back to the pirate. If he ever comes to Norway he will be arrested for his criminal activities, and I hope he will be arrested soon. When Furuno denies to supply Sea Sheperd with equipment, they do us all a favour. He do not care about the enviroment or the whales, he is only interested in the money this bring in. Whaling minkie whales is not a threat to the whales, they exists in the northern atlantic in numbers of more than 100.000, and the only threat is the wales and the seals that kills more than 2/3 of the fish in the area, the people kills 1/3 by fishing, and the world need more fish.
    Shall we feed people or Seals and Whales in the future?? There are som species of whales that is in small numbers,and they are threatened species. Norway, Iceland and Japan is not hunting these whales, they are only hunted by americans and canadians, in Canada and Alaska.Paul Watson do not care about that, there is to little business to fight eskimos and indians.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Let’s bear in mind that none of us really know what Furuno’s policy is, beyond what Sea Shepherd is claiming.

  10. Russ says:

    Ben – Good point!
    Ole – Humans are omnivores, we have choices; most animals do not. If Norway and Japan quit hunting whales, nobody will starve
    In any case, if we anyone wants to eat fish in the future, we’d better adopt a sustainable fishing attitude pretty fast, with international enforcement to back it up.
    The problem is well documented here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overfishing
    And a solution is offered here http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

  11. Robert says:

    Hmmm… I’ve read your blog with interest for a while but your comment about Captain Watson’s activities are nothing but short of biased — don’t you earn a living reviewing electronic boating equipment manufactured by many companies including many from Japan? There are many who argues U.S. military forces’ intervention in many countries in this world in the name of human rights and democracy. But if not U.S. who them? Could we go on living simply ignoring wrong doing. Such is the case of Sea Shepherd’s activities and it is my firm belief they did not deserve your biased opinion. What is happening to the whale, tuna and many other sea life in this planet is appalling, but none more than biased opinions. Thank goodness there are organizations like Sea Shepherd.

  12. Mikehar says:

    My respect for panbo just dropped a notch or two. The Japanese government is pressuring Furuno not to sell hardware to a company that it deems politically incorrect and panbo’s response is to attack Paul Watson? That’s not consistent with the clear headed thinking that usually comes out of panbo.

  13. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    What Sea Sheperd do is terrorism at sea, nobody should supply terrorists with radar equipment or any other equipment. Norway has been the best and sometimes only country in Europa who has been limiting fishing, whaling and seal hunting according to scientific research, and due to that, there are no threatening to cod, saithe, Haddock, Herring, caplin, in norwegian wathers. The minkie whale is in in large numbers in the Atlantic, the area is overpopulated by Minkies, TheIWC organisation is not administrating whaling as it should, in stead of administrating a secure amount of catch, they have turned out to be a protecting organisation that no longer acts in the interest of the whaling nations. What would you say if we made an organisation that banned meat production in american farms because the cow has so nice eyes? It would be just as stupid, Furuno is sullpying our fleet with superb electronic equipment for navigation and fish finding, if they supplies Sea Sheperd, they would be loosing a lot of customers. It is better to loose a few extremists in the US.

  14. Ian says:

    The Yakuza (Japanese mobsters) are heavily involved in the Japanese whaling industry and corruption is rife within it. The Japanese have no business being in the southern ocean hunting these gentle intellegent animals. I applaud Captain Wilson’s brave efforts. He has saved hundreds of whales from the cruel Japanese harpoon and achieved what governments haven’t been able to do. Furuno would do itself great service if they reversed their decision to suspend supply of their products to Sea Shepherd.

  15. Rick says:

    Furuno is to be applauded for refusing to support pirates. The next time I am looking for new marine electronics, Furuno will be the first contact.
    It is good to see. someone standing up to these bullies

  16. Robert says:

    If Norway is doing the best job in managing its waters and fishing it should take the lead in doing the same everywhere else in the world instead of taking a back seat and watching other whale and tuna species become extinct. Captain Watson is far from being a terrorist, in my view he is an ocean hero. And I am not an American but would be proud to be considered one.

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    “The Japanese government is pressuring Furuno not to sell hardware to a company that it deems politically incorrect and panbo’s response is to attack Paul Watson? That’s not consistent with the clear headed thinking that usually comes out of panbo.”
    I’ll try to take that as a compliment, Mikehar, and will just note that my opinion of Paul Watson was formed way before Furuno came up. Obviously there are very strong feelings around the whaling issues, but I hope it’s possible to distinguish between Watson’s whale-size ego and the whales themselves.
    Ole, do you have any links supporting the claimed “overpopulation” of Minke whales, because I can’t find much?
    PS Just found what looks like pretty good science refuting the Minke overpopulation claim:
    http://futurity.org/earth-environment/hunted-minke-whales-not-overpopulated/

  18. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    The count of Minkie whales(norw. VAGEHVAL) in the north of the atlantic and Barents area is increasing, whoever is interested can have these figures from IWC, in Norwegian you can find one oficial report at
    http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/fkd/dok/regpubl/stmeld/20032004/stmeld-nr-27-2003-2004-/3.html?id=404066
    There the number based on the counting was approx 187.000 whales, this is accepted by IWC, and the Minkie whale can take a lot of catching before it is threatened. So Paul Watson do not care of the whales in small numbers hunted by eskimos and indians in Canada and USA,they are of threatened species, he is only caring for where the money comes from without making trouble at home.Here in Norway,Iceland and in Japan he is in deep trouble already, and would be arrested at first sight for terrorism.

  19. Bob Mueller says:

    I totally agree with Ben on this issue and actually laughed out loud when I read the blog post. I’ve watched whale wars for quite some time now. It’s not about supporting killing of whales. Its the means i have a prblem with. Its how they go about it. Watson asks these young kids to go risk their lives in ridiculous conditions, while he sits comfortably in the wheel house. The few people that seem to have the ability to bring order to the chaos on deck while they are launching the small boats, are trivialized even ridiculed. It seems to me that Watson does not want any strong leaders to be around to challenge his authority and make him look bad. They frequently enter harsh conditions without batteries in the electronics! The sea shepards captain sends the crew off ill prepared with little or no training how to use the equipment. Its not about risking your life, its the uneccesary risks they take all the time. I could never follow a poor leader like Watson anywhere. No matter what the cause.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Watson could by a radar anywhere, probably wanted it for free like everything else. The guy is a joke and should be in jail

  21. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    The whale count I gave in my former comment is for Barents sea west to 28 deg. east, and the norwegian sea and some of the atlantic. In addition comes around Iceland and Greenland plus Canada and US east coast, so you can multiply the numbers.Someone agree that PW should have been sendt to jail, just send him a non refundable ticket to Norway, and he will. he has been rersponsible for sinking two fishing vessels, not catching whales,lying along the pier while fishing cod.Ramming a coast guard vessel and so on. That man should not have a new radar, but a clamp around each arm, and bars outside the window.

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Ole, but an increasing population of Minke whales is not the same as an overpopulation of them.

  23. MaineFog says:

    Strange that we put so much effort into “managing” the whale population to make sure there are not too many of them. Perhaps we need to do a better job of managing the population of the humans that mess in the whale’s home.
    As we improve the electronics, the whales have no place to hide. Shame on us.

  24. Sandy Daugherty says:

    The issue has nothing to do with whales. Its about a pirate. I applaud Furuno, as I would if Garmin refused to sell (or donate) equipment to a Somalian Warlord.

  25. Ian says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would brand Paul Wilson as a “pirate”. He goes around the world protecting species from needless slaughter and extinction, and he gets called a pirate? Beam me up Scotty. If anything, it would be far more accurate to describe the Japanese who are harpooning whales and account for 80% of the bluefish tuna consumption as pirates.

  26. Butch Davis says:

    Ben,
    Isn’t this fun? You’re certainly hearing from all points of the spectrum on the subject. I’ve enjoyed it.
    May I suggest an entry on a religious issue as a follow up?

  27. Robert says:

    Ole, you are either involved in the fishing industry or a lobbyist for them. Your statement about Mink whale overpopulation is misleading. They are increasing in population after almost being killed to extinction. And if there are more of them today is not because of people like you, but because of the Captain Watsons of the world.

  28. BillP says:

    I agree with Butch. Ben, I do believe you have touched on a subject of great controversy. Interesting to read all of the polarized points of view.

  29. Rick says:

    In reply to Ole Martin Ronning and others. Paul Watson is not an American. He is a Canadian. He began with Greenpeace, but they kicked him out as being too radical even for them. He next went after the seal hunt until the Canadian Govt seized his boat.
    His sojourn in the pacific is not about saving whales. It’s about making a TV show.

  30. norse says:

    Is there any coincidence between the header photo of Ben pushing that Sisyphus like rock and opening a Pandora like topic on this blog?

  31. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bingo, Norse! It’s an unusual header photo, I know, but it seemed right somehow.
    I’ve come to realize that this topic is even more controversial than underwater lights:
    https://staging.panbo.com/archives/2009/03/underwater_lights_stupid_offensive.html
    I know where I stand on that one — images of Gizmo’s own underwater lights coming soon — but whaling is much more complicated for me (disagreeable characters like Watson excepted).

  32. Tom says:

    I don’t think it’s about population. It’s about the killing of large, beautiful, and intelligent creatures. Still, I think they are making a big leap to say that because they don’t want to be associated with Sea Sheppard by supplying free electronics, they are for killing whales.

  33. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    IWC was formed to manage the whaling, it was infiltrated and changed to a protective organisation. But IWC has this year admitted that the minkie whale is in surch a large number all over the world that they can recomend catching of approx the same amount of species as the catch is on now by among others Iceland, Norway, USA, Canada and Japan. Sea sheperd is an pirate organisation and Paul watson and his organisation is wanted in different countries for ramming an Norwagian coast guard vessel, sinking of several fishing vessel that did not take part in any whaling at all, and attacking Japanese ships. He should also be accused of using young kids in his filmed attacs,kids with no training is seamanship, kids who can not take care of themselves and so on. He is only interested in making films, asking for donations, which he did not get from Furuno, and profiting on kids risking their lives making film for him in arctic wathers for his profit. He is a piece of shit that I do not support.

  34. Bob Burns says:

    If the history of the 20th Century demonstrated anything beyond the shadow of a doubt it is that extremists posing as the cure for social problems end up being worse than the ill’s they pretend to solve.

  35. Ford Perfect says:

    To me, Paul Watson isn’t very likable character, but the question is: Does Furuno sell to whalers? If they do (and they almost certainly do) they’re simply a**holes. And if the discriminate on the ramming/sinking japanese ship they certainly should’t sell to US goverment. http://gohawaii.about.com/od/history/ss/tragedy_at_sea.htm

  36. Christian says:

    I just want to point out that Norway, unlike Japan, is not bound by the IWC commercial whaling moratorium. It is therefor not possible to argue that Norway is in violation of international agreements or laws.
    Also, the species that are hunted (Minke whales) are not listed as endangered. In fact its listed as “Least Concern” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minke_whale)
    This is in much the same way as the United States, unlike the rest of the world, is not part of the Kyoto protocol on climate change. That is, a state don’t have to sign if it doesn’t want to.
    Of the estimated 100 000 minke whales in the north east atlantic, about 500 are caught every year. Most are consumed by locals in smaller communities in the less dense north of Norway. Some are used for research.
    Whaling in Norway has very little economic impact. There is however a historic and cultural aspect to it, with traditions dating back to the viking age. This is in much the same way as Inuits are allowed to catch 150-200 minke whales a year.
    I have respect for environmentalists but only as long as they keep within law. Paul Watson and Sea Sheperd are nothing but eco-terrorists. They scuttle vessels, they ram vessels at high seas, even a Norwegian Coast guard vessel once and have performed various other illegal acts – some of which endangers the lifes of other seamen. No wonder Watson was thrown out of Greenpeace for beeing to radical.

  37. Anonymous says:

    one word ! The cove ! watch it if you can……
    http://www.thecovemovie.com/

  38. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    This blog shows that most of the contributors to this know little or nothing about whales, To talk about whales the way they do is like talk about humans and monkies as the same. We are of the same main group of species on this earth, but we are very different in body, brain, numbers, and so on.
    Whales might sometimes be humpbacks or minkies, the one is thretened, the other is not. Minkie whales is the one of largest numberis in the ocean, and that is the one which both norwegians, japanese and icelandic whalers is hunting, and according to IWC, it is NOT a thretened specie. Only in the north atlantic and the barents sea, you will find more than 150.000 minkie whales, and only approx 1% is caught by humans. 2/3 of all the fish in that area are eaten by these whales and the seals, we only get 1/3 of it. There is a hardening competition going on, and that has little to do with what Watson is doing, he is only interested in making business, and when Furuno did not give him a radar for free, or to a very reduced price, he is yelling. If he wanted to buy it, he could, but then he had to pay, that is the difference.

  39. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Ole, have you ever laid in your berth and listened to humpback whales “sing” to each other for hours on end, or watched a mother teach her awkward calf to loptail? Do you think you can even begin to “know” another species without some knowledge of their intimate activities, like these?
    Remember that I am not an extremist about hunting, and I eat all sorts of meat. But I don’t think I’d be all the human I can be if I view other species as just meat.

  40. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    It is forbidden in Norway to hunt humpbacks,and we do not intend to do so, but to talk about hupbacks at the same time as Minkie whales is wrong, the only of them which is on any redlist is the humpback. And, the only nations which I know is hunting humpbacks is USA and Canada that alows some indian or eksimo tribes to hunt for humpbacks in their traditional way. So keep your own doorsteps clean before you accuse others, and Watson is a criminal that it should be forbidden to help anyway. If he comes to any european country, he will be arrested. Furuno is doing the right thing other should follow their example.

  41. Robert says:

    Ole, if we go by your percentages, “2/3 of all the fish in that area are eaten by these whales and the seals, we only get 1/3 of it”, there would be no fish left. What are you doing fishing anyway? Similarly, you statement, “the only nations which I know is hunting humpbacks is USA and Canada that alows some indian or eksimo tribes to hunt for humpbacks in their traditional way”, is no comparison to the damage being done by countries like Norway and Japan to the remaining whales and other fish species in the oceans. What do you think we should do, sit still until they are extinct? Furthermore, the whales shown being taken by Watson’s videos do not appear to be Minkies. You have given us nothing but sorry excuses to continue hunting these gentle giants. Thank goodness for people like Paul Watson to keep people like you at bay. Don’t you have anything better to do?

  42. Ole Martin Ronning says:

    When Robert is putting together 2/3 eaten by whales and seals, and 1/3 by us humans, he makes it 100% of all fish, but it means of all fish eaten in the area. Norway is having the best fishery administration in the world, therefore species that are redlisted in other wathers, is still strong in ours, and increasing. Herring, Caplin, Cod and Saithe are in very good conditions, even the shrimp, pandalus borealis, which is almost lost at Flemish cap is in good condition in our waters. We are using more money than any other nation around the atlantic to do sientific work related to fish, whales and seals. So when USA and Canada can say the same, you are qualifyed to take part in that discussion. Regarding whales there are approx 80 different types of whales, so talking about whales in general is simply to stupid unless you also categorize humans and monkies the same way. Genetic we are just as close as the 80 spezies of “Whales” are to each other in the sea. To say that whales is red listed, is not true, but please try to clear the dirt from your own front doors before you start complaining on others, Humpbacks are hunted in North America, we do not.

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