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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tuna's End

A fantastic piece of work from the New York Times Magazine by Paul Greenberg. It's a lengthy work but a hugely stimulating and enlightening read.

Bluefin TunaOn the morning of June 4, in the international waters south of Malta, the Greenpeace vessels Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise deployed eight inflatable Zodiacs and skiffs into the azure surface of the Mediterranean. Protesters aboard donned helmets and took up DayGlo flags and plywood shields. With the organization’s observation helicopter hovering above, the pilots of the tiny boats hit their throttles, hurtling the fleet forward to stop what they viewed as an egregious environmental crime. It was a high-octane updating of a familiar tableau, one that anyone who has followed Greenpeace’s Save the Whales adventures of the last 35 years would have recognized. But in the waters off Malta there was not a whale to be seen.

What was in the water that day was a congregation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a fish that when prepared as sushi is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. It’s also a fish that regularly journeys between America and Europe and whose two populations, or “stocks,” have both been catastrophically overexploited. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of only two known Atlantic bluefin spawning grounds, has only intensified the crisis. By some estimates, there may be only 9,000 of the most ecologically vital megabreeders left in the fish’s North American stock, enough for the entire population of New York to have a final bite (or two) of high-grade otoro sushi. The Mediterranean stock of bluefin, historically a larger population than the North American one, has declined drastically as well. Indeed, most Mediterranean bluefin fishing consists of netting or “seining” young wild fish for “outgrowing” on tuna “ranches.” Which was why the Greenpeace craft had just deployed off Malta: a French fishing boat was about to legally catch an entire school of tuna, many of them undoubtedly juveniles.

Read the whole Article Here

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

End of Moratorium on Whaling Threatens More Blood in the Seas

By Michael McCarthy

The moratorium on commercial whaling, one of the world's major environmental achievements, is in danger of being abandoned after 24 years at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which begins this week in Morocco.

A proposed new deal, which stands a realistic chance of being passed at the conference in Agadir, would allow the three countries which have continued killing the great whales in defiance of the ban – Japan, Norway and Iceland – to recommence whaling legally in return for bringing down their catches.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Whaling Business Jolted by Enemy Within

AFTER years of fruitless efforts to penetrate the facade of Japan's scientific whaling, Greenpeace in January 2008 stumbled across a rare opportunity: a whistleblower.

An investigation by Greenpeace Japan's Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, based on the whistleblower's tip-offs, produced sensational allegations of corruption, waste and official misbehaviour in the whaling program.

Japanese YenJapanese taxpayers keep scientific whaling afloat: last year, (Japanese Yen) ¥5.1 billion (about USD $60 million) of the Institute of Cetacean Research's ¥13.9 trillion operating expenses were met by interest-free public loans, ¥538m came as direct subsidy and another ¥404m as public research fees.

The rest came from selling the meat of the whales killed by the fleet, the proceeds of a publicly funded activity. The public was being cheated, Greenpeace argued.

Sato and Suzuki, however, ended up in the dock.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

WDCS Species Guide

An excellent resource full of useful info and simple to navigate.

A great place to visit

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Japan's Whalers are at Sea Again, Harvesting Meat that Few Will Eat

By April, another 900 whales will have died for little profit. So what drives the Japanese to go on defying world opinion?

By David McNeill in Tokyo

In an annual ritual as seemingly unstoppable as the tides, Japan's whaling fleet is again ploughing the Southern Ocean hunting and killing whales. Bitterly criticised, harried by eco-warriors on Sea Shepherd's ships and tracked by the world's media, the fleet may be slowed but it won't be stopped. On its return to port in April, the refrigerated holds are likely to be stuffed with the meat from 850 minkes and 50 fin whales. Next year, 50 endangered humpbacks could be added to the list.

Japan has so far been largely inoculated from debate on the annual cull, but that may be about to change. Next month sees the first public hearing in the trial of Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, accused of trespass and theft in their attempt to expose the embezzlement of whale meat by crew members on board the fleet, who sold it for personal gain. Activists believe the so-called Tokyo Two case could put the entire whaling programme in Japan on trial.

Japan's stubbornness on whaling is one of the mysteries of world diplomacy. Why does the country turn angry and unyielding when it comes to whaling? Why does it continue to snub one of the environmental movement's few lasting triumphs: the 1986 moratorium on commercial hunts?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Useless Research Whaling Should be Abolished

Since Japan virtually gave up commercial whaling in 1988, it has caught 9,000 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean in the name of scientific research whaling. The company that undertakes research whaling operations by providing vessels and crew receives 500 million yen ($5.38 million) a year in government subsidies via the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR).

Re-search In view of the strained state of public finance, it stands to reason that research whaling be immediately abolished. Actually, however, for some unknown reason, it did not even become a target of review by the government task force for identifying wasteful state projects.

Apparently, this is because political parties and groups have formed associations of lawmakers who represent the interests of the whaling industry. Diet members formed such associations after they received plausible "explanations" by bureaucrats of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries over many years.

The Democratic Party of Japan's set of policies called "Index 2009" even mentions the resumption of commercial whaling.

As a member of a nongovernmental organization with an observer status to the International Whaling Commission, I have been watching IWC meetings. As far as I know, it would be no exaggeration to say discussions in Japan are solely based on information provided by the fisheries ministry and the ICR, which is affiliated with the ministry.

Results of Japan's research whaling up to 2005 have been reviewed by the IWC Scientific Committee. However, the majority opinion of the committee was that the research results lacked scientific findings that could provide the basis for a decision to resume sustainable use of whale stocks as stipulated by the committee. Most of the published papers contain findings that can be obtained without killing whales.

To begin with, the practice of catching as many as 400 to 500 whales a year started under a system to cover whaling expedition expenses with proceeds from the sale of whale meat. Japan's research whaling is based on Article 8 of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which allows contracting nations to kill whales "for purposes of scientific research" at their discretion.

However, in Japan's method, the end and the means have been reversed from the beginning. That is why Japan is a target of criticism by foreign countries that argue Japan is actually doing "commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research."

Sales of whale meat amount to about 6 billion yen ($64.5 million) a year. In order to protect this small interest, the fisheries ministry continues to release information apparently aimed at stimulating patriotic sentiment.

The balance of power between pro- and anti-whaling forces within the IWC general meeting has remained more or less unchanged for a long time. Actually, this situation is favorable to all concerned parties.

Bureaucrats of the fisheries ministry can protect small interests, anti-whaling organizations, including the Sea Shepherd, can collect donations from around the world, and lawmakers of such countries as Japan and Australia get publicity once a year by showing on television how they are working to protect their national interests.

It is said that "eating whales is Japan's traditional culture." But this is a myth that was started through a PR company during the mid-1970s. Actually, whale meat does not sell well and there is surplus stock. If Japan proposes to the IWC to allow it to engage in coastal whaling in exchange for giving up research whaling, I expect the long-standing opposition to be immediately settled.

Currently, there is a growing trend for strengthening control over marine resources such as tuna on a global scale. Also in order not to raise questions over Japan's scientific data in international forums to discuss regulations on fishing of tuna and other fish, Japan should abolish research whaling as a government project.

* * *

The author is a specially appointed professor of global environment policy at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Protest Day 15th January 2010

The London Coalition for the Abolition of Whaling is holding a demonstration outside The Japanese Embassy, 101 Piccadilly, London on January 15th.

All groups, societies and individuals are invited to join the protest supporting Sea Shepherd in Antarctica and against the disgusting actions of the Japanese Whaling Fleet.

Sea Shepherd supporters are encouraged to wear our shirts - XL and XXL shirts will be available to borrow on the day to wear over your coats.

Please wrap up warm!

Following the despicable actions of the Japanese whalers and their total disregard for the safety and crew of the Sea Shepherd Vessel the Ady Gil, I will be personally attending this protest.

I have watched three videos showing the incident. One from the Japanese whaling vessel the Shonan Maru No 2, one from the SSCS vessel Bob Barker and finally one from aboard the Ady Gil itself.

The actions of the Japanese whaling vessel are shown irrefutably as a deliberate and concious attack intended to destroy the Ady Gil with no regard for those aboard or the consequences of their actions.

Here are links to You Tube videos of the Japanese sinking of the Sea Shepherd Vessel the Ady Gil.

From the Shonan Maru No. 2

From the SSCS Vessel Bob Barker

From the SSCS Vessel the Ady Gil