The Phantom, Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin, has emerged from the jungle.
As chronicled in The Last Whale, The Phantom took a leading role in the original Save the Whales campaign which eventually saw the end of ‘commercial’ whaling and the creation of the South Ocean Sanctuary.
The Phantom was spotted in Morocco in June 2010 where the International Whaling Commission was meeting. He told friends he was again taking an active role to stop whaling. He’d withdrawn from the world stage in the 1980s because he felt the whales were safe. This had dramatically changed with proposals which may allow commercial whaling again.
See the photograph taken by Australian Jonny Lewis. Jonny and Jean-Paul formed the Whale and Dolphin Coalition in 1977 to take action against Australia’s last whaling station in Albany, Western Australia. They both piloted Zodiac inflatable boats to run interference against the three vessel Australian fleet.
It was Jonny Lewis who coined the nickname The Phantom after Jean-Paul’s ability to appear out of nowhere to fight evil.
Jonny Lewis and Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin reunited in Morocco. The Phantom was particularly concered at Japan’s plans to take Cachalot (sperm whales) which have the largest and most complex brains on the planet. He regards these whales as his personal totem.
The ABC TV program Can we Help? ran a segment (Friday, April 24, 2009), Moment in Time, about the end of whaling in Australia.
On the program Chris Pash, the author of The Last Whale, says: ‘Every boy at school wanted to be a whaler because they were big tough guys and they earned big money and it was a wonderful adventure. In town, they were regarded very well, they were paid well and contributed to the economy.’
The program runs some very good archival footage of protests in 1977 against the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company at Albany, Western Australia. You can download the clip (24/04/2009) Episode 11 Can We Help?
Chris Pash: ‘I quite enjoyed going out on the whaling ships and I like the people themselves, good Aussie blokes enjoying themselves, bit of mateship, bit of fun but the killing bit, I don’t think even they liked that, there was a hint of sadness every time they landed a whale.’
Australia harpooned its last whale, a female sperm whale, in November 2008.
FIRST POSTED Sunday, December 14, 2008
Paddy Hart, the master and harpoon gunner of the Cheynes II whale chaser ship when Australia’s last whaling station closed thirty years ago, was in Tokyo last week (December 2008) to protest whaling by Japan.
During the lead up to the closure, Paddy was a whale chaser skipper out of Albany, Western Australia, during Greenpeace’s first direct action in Australia. Activisits took to Zodiac inflatable boats to place themselves between harpoons and whales.
As recorded in The Last Whale, Paddy played a leading role on the side of Australia’s last whalers during the first Save the Whale Campaign in the 1970s. Now he’s on the side of the whales.
“Greenpeace asked me to come along and tell Japanese people that there’s life after whaling, and I am honoured to be there,” Paddy said in Tokyo. Paddy met Steve Shallhorn, the CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, at the launch of The Last Whale, the book by Chris Pash about the final days of whaling in Australia.
He called on the Japanese people to ask their government to find alternative ventures for whalers.
“They’re spending money and losing money on food people don’t even like anymore. Also, there’s no humane way to kill a whale, speaking from experience as a whale gunner.”
Paddy is living proof that there is a life after whaling. “I have sympathy for the whalers in one sense because I’ve been in that situation. But, if whaling stops, like us, they can get on with it and find something else to do.”
“If they want to start killing humpback whales, they should know that they’re the backbone of a $300 million industry in Australia,” Paddy said.
“It’s taken 40 years for the whales to come to trust us and let the boats come close to see them. As soon as these fellows start shooting them, we’ve lost that trust and that industry, and our grandchildren will never see a whale.”
The Last Whale by Chris Pash was shortlisted for the 2009 Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book Prize.
Pash said: “I am happy for the recognition it gives to the last whalers of Albany, Western Australia, and happy also that the work of the anti-whaling activists is not forgotten.
“I don’t see myself as a maritime historian – my job was to re-create the sea battle between the last whalers and the group of activists who tried to stop them in 1977.”
Pash said that while whaling was reviled by society today, it played a major part in building settlement in Australia.
“Whale products, not wool, were Australia’s first exports,” he said.
“Understanding both groups – whalers and activists – provides insight into the issues surrounding whaling today.”
The Last Whale, published by Fremantle Presss, captures and preserves the final days of a major part of Australia’s maritime history – whaling. The last whaling station closed in 1978 in Albany, Western Australia.
The $2000 Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book Prize is awarded every two years by the Australian Association for Maritime History (AAMH) and the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM).
The 2009 prize went to Captain Cook: Voyager Between Worlds (Hambledon Continuum, 2007) by John Gascoigne.
Frank Broeze was born in the Netherlands in August 1945, and died in Perth on 4 April 2001. He was one of the founders of the AAMH and the founding editor of its journal. He was the President of the International Commission of Maritime History and Vice-President of the International Maritime Economic History Association for many years. He also served on the Board of the West Australian Maritime Museum and was its deputy chairman from 1994 until his death in 2001.
The Sydney Morning Herald 21 March 2008
Reviewer Bruce Elder said: “Given that whaling seems to be an eternally controversial issue it is a huge compliment to ex-journalist Chris Pash that he has managed to find an objective middle path in this engrossing story of the first Greenpeace campaign in Australia, which resulted in the closing of the country’s last whaling station in Albany, Western Australia.”
The Last Whale is published by Fremantle Press.
Elder said: “This is an important story but lacks any sense of Moby Dick-like romance because, by 1977 when the protests occurred, whales were hunted with sonar and planes and killed with 55-kilogram harpoons driven by 185 grams of gunpowder.”
(First POSTED Tuesday, September 4, 2007)
The last whale was caught on November 20, 1978. That day nine whales were harpooned.
To fill the annual quota of 713 whales, the three whales chaser ships had to take six female sperm whales. But on the last day of operation (November 21, 1978) no whales were harpooned.
An extract from The Last Whale describing the last day of whaling in Australia:
November 21, 1978 –
The whale chasers dressed up for their last day. Each of the three vessels had flags and bunting flying. The crews had resigned themselves. The industry was gone and their jobs as well.
Those who’d never fired the harpoon cannon got their chance. Skipper Paddy Hart thought he’d give everyone a go. That way they would recall, years later, that they’d actually sent a harpoon flying. “We discharged a lot of shells,” he said.
The Mayor of Albany, Harold Smith, who had fought the political battle on behalf of the whalers, and Ken Marshall, the district’s senior state public servant, joined the crew on the Cheynes II.
“We didn’t see a bloody whale all day,” Harold Smith said. The last whale caught by the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was the previous day (November 20, 1978).
“As we came in, the manager (Geoff) Reilly fired a harpoon in the direction of the whaling station as a gesture. They came in right close to shore at Frenchman Bay and fired over at the whaling station.
Steam whistles blew as they returned to harbour. Bob Wych, chief engineer on the Cheynes IV, pushed the ship hard. He belted the shit out of the engine coming home and they gave a couple of toots coming through the heads.
On the Cheynes III, skipper Gordon Cruickshank relaxed the no-alcohol rule and broke out the beers. “What are they going to do, sack us?” he told the crew.
© 2008 Text Copyright Chris Pash. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph © Copyright ED SMIDT. All Rights Reserved.
“This documentary will get inside the heads of the whalers as they hunt sperm whales in Western Australia in the 1970s,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre is close to finishing a six to seven minute trailer, which will used to seek funding for a full length documentary.
The documentary will feature interviews filmed with whalers and activists based in Western Australia, New South Wales and Europe. While filming, McIntyre and author Chris Pash uncovered new footage of the 1977 anti-whaling protests against Australia’s last whaling station in Albany. They are keen to source more.
“There must be reels of home footage on whaling gathering dust in attics.
“We’re keen to obtain any old movie footage of whaling in Australia, particularly in Albany,” said McIntyre.
Author Chris Pash said The Last Whale chronicled the final days of whaling in the English-speaking world and marked the first direct action by Greenpeace in Australia.
“This story has important lessons for today’s anti-whaling campaign, currently deadlocked in international diplomacy and a cultural divide between East and West,” he said.
The Last Whale was released by Fremantle Press in 2008 to critical acclaim. It portrays the raw adventure of going to sea, the perils of being a whaler and the ‘crazy, but somehow magical’ commitment that lead activists to throw themselves into the path of an explosive harpoon.
The Last Whale was shortlisted for the 2009 Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book Prize.
(Pictured: Kase Van Der Gaag, the former master of the Cheynes II whale ship, in Albany, WA, on November 15, 2009)