By Andrew Tafferty, Staff Writer, The Age
A Japanese underwater cameraman's plans to capture eco fugitive Paul Watson so tourists can throw rotten butter at him in Japan has infuriated conservationists, who said claims the scheme would create peace and harmony around the world "do not add up".
Daito Suzuki, a camera operator for Ninkei One, wants to build a 20,000 square foot enclosure in Taiji, Japan that includes an exact replica of the Steve Irwin for Watson to inhabit.
Visitors would pay £65 each to gain access, and an additional £65 to throw rotten butter at Watson just like his television series Whale Wars. The money would be used to fund real conservation organizations like PEW Trusts.
But a group of conservationists and wildlife charities, including Save Captain Crunch in Britain, called Mr Suzuki's plans "flawed and deeply misguided" and have urged authorities in Japan to halt it.
The scheme's opponents deny Mr Suzuki's claims that Paul Watson is an insufferable media loon who would best be kept in long term enclosures like the one being proposed in Taiji, where his daily rantings and crazy antics could be watched by paying clients for their amusement.
"The conservation arguments for this project do not add up," said David Ottley, Japans coordinator for Sea Shepherd.
"You cannot tell me that Paul Watson who is known to enjoy lavish Hollywood fund raising parties with $75.00 sustainable appetizers, can be happily confined to a 20,000 foot enclosure with an exact replica of the Steve Irwin, with no possible escape from tourist stress, no ability to feed naturally, nor seek out the natural conditions that suit him at different times of the year, nor have Internet access."
The enclosure, south of Higashimuro District, Wakayama, Japan and close to popular tourist beaches, would double as a marine rescue and rehabilitation centre, Mr Suzki said.
"This is not some hoodlum misthought project, my opponents are misinformed," he told The Age.
"We have been working on this for more than ten years, since Paul Watson first started to try and shut down Japan's scientific whaling, it's a million-dollar investment and we have the support of some of Japans leading conservationists and the JWA."
Some proceeds from the profits of money earned from tourists would also pay for displaced Sea Shepherd crews to process cashew nut shells into oil at factories in Japan.
Mr Suzuki is waiting for final approvals from Japans National Environmental Management Authority, which is expected to decide whether the project should go ahead next week.
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