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Reproduced courtesy of Jonny Lewis

Image depicting the CHEYNES III with its catch

Date: 1977
Medium: Digital image files
Credit Line: ANMM Collection reproduced courtesy of Jonny Lewis
Object Copyright: ©Jon Lewis
Object Name: Digital image
Object No: 00054512
Related Place:Albany,

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    The CHEYNES III with its catch in the waters off Albany, Western Australia 1977. The dead whales were towed by a rope attached to their tails, back to shore for processing at the whaling station. The photographer Jonny Lewis was an active participant in the campaign to end whaling in Australia and he took the photograph from a Zodiac (an inflatable boat) when he was trying to prevent whalers from hunting whales during the blockade of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station in August 1977.

    Inspired by the Greenpeace Foundations successful environmental campaigns against both United States and French Governments nuclear testing programs by the mid-1970s around 20 Greenpeace groups had been established worldwide. One such group was The Whale and Dolphin Coalition that had been formed in Sydney by Australian photographer Jonny Lewis and French businessman Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin in 1974. On the 28 August 1977 they commenced a three week long protest and blockade of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station in Albany Western Australia. The blockade drew world attention to whaling activities in Australian waters and by the end of 1978 the station had taken its last whale.

    SignificanceCommercial whaling ended in Australia in November 1978, this photogaph by anti-whaling campaigner Jonny Lewis is taken from a Zodiac (inflatable boat) looking up at the CHEYNES III whaler with it's catch of two whales. The photograph is significant for its depiction of the methods used to transport whales to shore for processing in the 1970s. The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was the last whaling company to operate in Australia.

    Jonny Lewis is a professional photographer who took numerous photographs during the campaign to end whaling in Australia. He was a key participant and one of the co-founders of Greenpeace Australia. He doesn’t see these photographs as part of his artistic work, rather documentary photography recording significant events in Australian conservation, whaling and maritime history.
    HistoryFollowing the announcement by the United States Government that they intended to trial nuclear weapons in a series of underground test on the island of Amchitka in Alaska, in the late 1960s a series of anti-nuclear demonstrations were organised by a loose knit federation of environmental and religious groups called The Don’t Make a Wave Committee. Over the next few years the committee, notable Jim and Marie Bohlen, Ben and Dorothy Melcalfe, Robert and Bobbi Hunter, Irving and Dorothy Stowe, developed a form of passive resistance which they termed ‘bearing witness’ and from the Stowe’s house established an international environmental organisation which today has global significance, the Greenpeace Foundation, in 1972.

    When the Amchitka nuclear tests and resulting protests were over the Greenpeace Foundation moved their anti-nuclear focus to the French atmospheric nuclear weapons testing at the Moruroa Atoll in French Polynesia, and following the death of Irving Stowe in 1975, broadened their operations to include anti-whaling operations in the Pacific as well as campaigns against toxic waste dumping and commercial seal hunting.

    Inspired by the Foundations success against both the American and French Governments by the mid-1970s independent groups using the name Greenpeace started springing up around the globe and by 1977 they were 15 to 20 Greenpeace groups worldwide who adhered to a series of ecological policies called the Greenpeace Declaration of Interdependence.

    One such group morphed from The Whale and Dolphin Coalition, which was formed in Sydney by Australian photographer Jonny Lewis and French businessman Jean-Paul Fortom-Gouin in 1974. Led by Lewis and Fortom-Gouin Greenpeace’s first direct action in Australia opened on the 28 August 1977 at Albany, Western Australia and targeted Australia’s last whaling station at Cheynes Beach.

    The Cheynes Beach Whaling Station, formed by the Westerberg and Birss families, salmon fishers from Albany in Western Australia, Fred Edmunds, an ex-Point Cloates, (Western Australia) whaler and Syd Reilly from Perth in 1952 operated a small fleet of whale chasers which harpooned both Humpback and sperm whales off the southern coast of Western Australia before towing them back to the shore-based whaling station near Albany for processing. From late August to late September 1977 Lewis, Fortom-Gouin and their Greenpeace supporters used Zodiac inflatable boats to place themselves between the whale chasers operated by the whaling station and the migrating whales, preventing some of the whales from being killed. The movie footage and still photographs of the blockade and protest went round the globe and subsequently due to national and international pressure in November 1978, after taking over 15000 whales, operations at Cheynes Beach Whaling Station ceased. In 1979, legislation was passed in Australia banning whaling.

    Related People
    Photographer: Jon Lewis

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