With Australian Federal police poised to raid the groups' ships should they dock in Hobart, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) founder Paul Watson, said nothing "can ever take away from what we achieved."
Watson applauded his group's intervention in the Southern Ocean and fired back at people critical of Sea Shepherd's latest campaign on his Facebook page. His scathing response capped one of the most tumultuous seasons between Japanese whalers and SSCS in the Southern Ocean, ever.
The intense period of high drama and conflict was fought both on land and at sea. The clashes rippled across the US legal system, the media, and into the court of public opinion. As tensions increased between the two sides, the conservation group's sheer determination not to give way, drummed up both support and oppostion for their actions.
"The courts can call us pirates," Watson said. "The whalers can call us terrorists. The trolls and the critics can call us any damn name they like ... the media can write scathing editorials denouncing us. Greenpeace can condemn our tactics," he added. "We simply do not care."
At the end of the day Watson explained, Sea Shepherd "Stood fast for our clients," saving "the lives of some 800 whales this season and some 5,000 whales over the nine years we have been defending the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
Tackling a rear admiral
One of the critics that Watson handled personally was retired Australian rear admiral James Goldrick. In an interview with BBC News, Goldrick said that Sea Shepherd's actions were "Life-threatening, counter-productive," and even had "the potential to destabilise the Asia Pacific region."
In a personal response published via The Interpreter, Watson countered:
I suppose the simple answer to why Sea Shepherd is protecting the whales in the Australian Antarctic Territory, Admiral Goldrick, is that you are not. If the Australian Navy was here, there would be no need for Sea Shepherd to be here.
Furthermore, the SSCS founder added, "It is flattering to think that this Admiral believes our small non-governmental organisation wields such global influence that we can spark a world war. But I think his flight of fancy has gotten the better of his common sense."
Australia refused to intervene in the conflict in the Southern Ocean that witnessed rammings, concussion grenades and even the addition of a Japanese naval ship. Demands made to Australia to send a military vessel of its own fell on deaf ears.
Environment Minister Tony Burke only sought assurances from Japan that the 12,500 tonne vessel -- the Shirase, was not engaging in the conflict. And now, it seems the Australian Federal Police will be stepping in ... on behalf of the Japanese.
Waiting to raid Sea Shepherd Vessels
According to a news report released yesterday by The Mercury, "Australian Federal Police are expected to raid the Sea Shepherd ships on their return to Australian waters after clashes in the Southern Ocean." The police, they said, "are tipped to swoop when the ships arrive in Hobart in coming days."
Australian National University professor Donald Rothwell, believes that Japan will likely, "Request the raid after the incidents at sea involving Sea Shepherd and Japanese vessels." Rothwell added that he was certain, "Japan will have made a request for Australia again."
Of more concern is that Watson is subject to an Interpol red notice. In the unlikely event that he is discovered on board, "He faces arrest if Japan requests extradition," the Mercury said.
For the hundreds of thousands of Sea Shepherd supporters, the potential raids feel like a kick in the teeth. Many don't understand why Australia won't police its own waters given its current legal proceedings that challenge Japan's scientific whaling program in the International Court of Justice.
For social media group Save Misty the Dolphin (SMTD) and its more than 24,000 supporters, the proposed raid on Sea Shepherd vessels at the request of Japan, feels like a perversion of justice.
They are now urging folks to voice their support for Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd crews across Twitter and by writing to the Australian government. Ask that the fleet be "welcomed back to port as heroes" instead, said SMTD.
Watson meanwhile, concludes that for Sea Shepherd, this season was the "Most effective campaign of them all." One he said, that "Will mark the lowest kill figures in the entire history of the Japanese Southern Ocean whaling operations." (He estimates less than 10% of the kill quota).
Now that the Japanese whaling fleet appears to be steaming home, the Sea Shepherd founder added, "There is not a whale or dolphin in the entire ocean that would disagree with what we have done and accomplished and that is all we need to know."
Watson said Sea Shepherd will return to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary next season, "and every season thereafter if necessary." The "Words and threats," he added, "condemnation and labels, will not deter our commitment to protecting life in our oceans."
Update: Sea Shepherd Australia is reporting that the retreating Japanese fleet has turned around and are heading South again. "The Bob Barker has changed course and is once again in pursuit of the whaling fleet," SSCS said. Captain Peter Hammarstedt added, “It is once more back into the breach. We know where the Sun Laurel is and we intend to intercept them once again."