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Monday, 23 November 2009

Whaling: when is enough, enough?

Some time ago I came across this article and have been meaning to add it to the site here as it conveys some strong words from one of the scientific community in regard to marine science.

I recently contacted Brian Morton, the author of this article who graciously granted me permission for its usage.

Whilst it's a relatively old article (2002) it still addresses the issues which are still no nearer any resolution. Brian pulls no punches in his criticism of the IWC and of particular interest I found the comments regarding the Svend Foyn method of capture as compared with those more aboriginal means as glorified in literature.

The article is an extremely concise two pages, but makes for a worthwhile read.
It is surely now time to recognise that the IWC is a political charade which has outlived its value – if it ever had one anyway!

Source: Marine Pollution Bulletin 44 (2002) 1–2

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Whale "Research" and CITES


Over the past 20 years, Japanese whalers have taken more than 10,000 whales from the Antarctic Southern Ocean and the north Pacific Ocean for ‘scientific purposes’, under a controversial exemption clause in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). After analyzing the relationship of the ICRW regime with other applicable multilateral agreements, this article concludes that Japan’s current pelagic ‘research whaling’ programmes are not only a growing embarrassment for the country’s meritorious ongoing research in both polar regions; they are also in open breach of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In light of different options for international legal action, the author recommends the initiation of ‘compliance procedures’ – potentially leading to a collective trade embargo – in accordance with CITES Conference Resolution 14.3 (2007).
Whilst the attached document is a rather heavy document to read it does point out some serious issues in regard to Japan's cavalier attitude to the conventions it is signed up to. It seems the whalers are able to skirt around certain treaties either due to not having signed up to them or due to the language used in one excluding or contradicting another.

However, when it comes to CITES it seems the case is clear. Nothing within ICRW Article VIII (The favoured loophole of the whalers that allows for "Scientific Research Whaling") excludes the requirements of CITES.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Whale Watching as an Economy

So far the train of thought in regard to whaling leads towards profitability. It seems that today there is no profit to be had in whaling scientific or sustainable commercial whaling, were such a thing to exist. However, there's more than a little food for thought in the profitability of not hunting whales, but watching them.



For the IWC61 in Madeira the IFAW commissioned a report by Economists at Large and Associates that makes for some very interesting reading. The document is extremely comprehensive and a very lengthy read at 295 pages. But it's full of vital information about the profitability of whale watching. Much of the research efforts of the IWC regarding whale watching met the expected derision of Japan who opposed their efforts at every stage.
In 2009 the IWC is at a crossroads. It could revert to the mindset of 1946 and facilitate the continuation and expansion of commercial whaling, or it could genuinely become the organisation responsible for the “proper conservation of whale stocks”. Whale watching provides the lever that could drive the IWC in the right direction. IFAW has been privileged to contribute to that process over the years and we hope that that support will continue well into the future. For whale watching provides the means to change attitudes about whales.
Fight as they must, the whaling nations cannot argue with the figures. It's a stark reality and one which year after year appears to be swept under the rug. In 2008, 13 million people from 119 countries participated in whale watching. This produced $2.1 billion in expenditure – yes, that's a lot of zeros $21,000,000,000!!! And it's growing.

What's more astounding is this is also happening right in the heart of the whaling nations. In 2008 Japan's total expenditure from whale watching was $22 million and on average has grown steadily each year. In Iceland there was $16 million and in Norway and Greenland another $11 million.

Surely these are no trifling sums. The economies of the whaling communities are benefiting greatly from a sustainable source of income that they themselves are steadily depleting. You don't have to be a skilled economist to see that they are quite literally shooting the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It appears that whilst focussed on the possible goal of huge profits by strip mining the oceans of our whales, they seem to fail to understand the damage to the immediate steady income they are already benefitting from by not killing whales. Do they not see that when they have killed all of the whales that not only will there be nothing to watch, but there will be nothing to hunt? We'll see the collapse of two economies due to the short sightedness of one.

From a common sense point of view there appears to be a "banking" mentality to whaling, where there are there no considerations for the sustainability of profits. Just a glut of bonus today and no thought for tomorrow. Consequences all of us will have to bear.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Species Spotlight: FIN

Balaenoptera physalus

Fin Whale - Balaenoptera physalus

Being second only in size to the Blue whale the Fin whale made an obvious high yield target for the whaling community. The Fin whale is probably the most hunted species of whale. The IUCN still record it as endangered and although still protected by the moratorium catch limit of zero, it is still a highly prized "scientific research" catch.

It's huge size easily dwarfs the whaling nations regular take of Minke whales meaning that the capture of one Fin whale would provide meat equivalent to seven Minke whales. With such a catch the seasons quota for whale meat can be harvested quickly and more efficiently.

The Fin whale can be identified by its unusual asymmetric colouring around its jaw. On the fight hand side the jaw is mostly white, whilst the left is light blue.

The Fin whale is the fastest of all the baleen whales and can dive deeper than any other whale species. Swimming at up to 30 miles per hour and diving to 1800 feet in hunt of fish and squid. Fin whales feed on a variety of planktonic animals as well as crustaceans, squid and fish.

IUCN Red List Page: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/2478/0

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Gloomy Debate on Greedy Whaling

By Kurasawa Nanami, Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network (IKAN)
From The Japan Observer, Vol.7 No.7 (July 2001)

Is the debate about whaling really a conflict of interests between Japan and Western countries?

DolphinEvery year when the IWC meeting comes to a close, we are bombarded with news articles about whaling in Japan. Media reports come mainly from the government controlled "industry of information," so in this season we have no choice but to deal with those one-sided or highly biased reports.

Generally the controversy on whaling is accepted as a conflict of interests between Japan and Western countries. Advocates of whaling argue that the conflict is between Japanese, who are trying to maintain (what they claim to be) a cultural tradition, and Westerners, who not only lack understanding of other cultures but also impose their cultural values on others.

On the other side, there are arguments that the Japanese are "environmental predators," behaving like a "gang of thugs," who continue environmental degradation for the sake of optimal use, and bully domestic environmental and conservation groups into "keeping silent" on the issue.

There are also arguments on whether the habit of eating whale meat is really a tradition, and about whether the government should allow or legitimize anything that be called a "tradition." However, it must be understood that the labelling of Japanese as "environmental predators," or other not-so-endearing terms, is certainly making the problem worse. There is a not miniscule percentage of Japanese who say, "the conservation of whales is going too far," or "the Western nations are imposing their cultural values on us" when faced with the high-handed attitudes of the anti-whaling advocates.

It is clear that it is the choice of the Japanese people that is crucial in solving the problem of whaling (and dolphin hunting). Due to this we have to shift the focus of discussion from "Conflicts between Japan and anti-whaling Westerners "to "Conflicts between the advocates of industrial development and exploitation, and the advocates of environmental protection." From this perspective, we need to pave the way for a fair discussion within our own country.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Long Game

On a previous posting "Whaling isn't about profits" it appears there's a lot more to it that trying to make a simple statement declaring that Japan are making huge losses year on year and there must be some other method to their madness.

Whale Fluke

Whilst whaling today isn't profitable there's an awful lot of history that has in the past demonstrated that whaling is in fact a highly profitable industry. The research whaling of today surely isn't profitable, and the development of sustainable commercial whaling may also prove unprofitable, but the return to full scale commercial whaling could prove to be the ultimate aim and where the profit is at.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Whales Eat "Some" of the Fish

It's been my pleasure over the past week to be conversing my email with Mr. Sidney Holt. Following a response to a previous posting here, he was kind enough to leave a comment and even more gracious to actually reply to my email questioning him further.

Now, being only a fresh face in the world of whaling I'll confess the name Sidney Holt had not rang any bells with me. Following his initial comment I did some research and find myself awed by having encountered someone of such lofty and academic status within the whaling world, and even more pleased that he has taken the time to converse with me.

Sidney's profile on the nature network:
"I  am a biologist, specialised in fish and marine mammals population dynamics and management of fisheries and whaling. I am retired, with no specific connection with government of academic institutions now, but many informal contacts with NGOs and some government and UN agencies. My interests and activities are global in extent and I am currently especially interested in the history of the above subjects and activities."
Having a common interest Sidney has furnished me with a number of his papers and they make excellent reading. His works that are in the public domain in regard to whaling are without doubt highly relevant and very well supported by other such scientific materials by his peers.

Sidney has kindly allowed me to quote and publish his public works which over the coming weeks I am bound to do, because it is a veritable gold mine of information.

Initially I thought I'd expand upon the original posting I made "Who Eats All the Fish?" by adding some further information from Sidney.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

So What’s the Deal About Whales?

Killer Whales - Orcinus Orca

There are many, many good causes to be had. All of them needing support or financial assistance, many of them fully justified in their needs and poorly recognised for their efforts. You can find worthy causes closer to home locally, domestically and even internationally.

So what makes whales so special?


Friday, 4 September 2009

Do People Really Eat That???

PDF FileWhat's more to the point is what the Japanese government allows you to eat when it knows what's in it. Why do they turn a blind eye?
Over the last decade, there have been many independent assessments of the levels of toxic chemicals present in cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) products in Japan. Peer reviewed scientific papers have revealed dolphin meat with mercury levels several hundred times higher than government recommended levels.
Dolphins

The contaminants in cetaceans occur primarily because of their position in the food web. They are an apex predator. This means they eat other members of their food web but are generally speaking, not in turn eaten by any other member of it.

Their consumption of fish and lower members of the food web in such high quantities means that whatever small contaminants effect their prey, are then digested in huge quantities. Pollutants from fertilizers, pesticides and combustion of fossil fuels all impact on the prey of these apex predators, and in turn are absorbed into their muscles, organs and fatty tissues.

The attached report serves as scientific evidence to support the conclusion that cetacean meat is not only harmful, but down right dangerous to human health. It also demonstrates that whilst the Japanese government have regulations in regard to contaminant levels in their food, they are disregarding them when it comes to whale and dolphin meat!

You only have to Google Minamata to understand that Japan really, really should know better.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Denmark's Aboriginal Whaling

Denmark's bid for an increase in it's Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) lures the IWC into setting a very dangerous precedent. The Dane's produced and made a last minute submission to the IWC technical committee giving them insufficient time to fairly assess it.

Humpback Breaching

A similar submission for the increase in quota was rejected the previous year.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cashing In By Selling Out

What price your morals?

For many years Japan has been "buying" votes to support its return to commercial whaling. It's easily done when you consider every member of the IWC has only one vote and some of the poorer nations can achieve rich rewards by signing onto Japan's party line.

Humpback Mother and CalfIt comes as no surprise that smaller nations can be encouraged to join the IWC, even though they have no history of whaling - or even any of their own future plans for whaling. All it takes is an overseas fisheries grant to fill their coffers, a handshake from a Japanese official and another consolidated vote joins the support of the pro-whaling nations.

What does come as a surprise is when member states that signed up during the initial membership of the IWC as conservationists, vocally supporting the ant-whaling line, suddenly change their stance and begin voting with Japan.

St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines signed up for five years as anti-whaling advocates. But five years later, and after an invited guest visit to Tokyo to "review the economic relations between Japan and their respective countries and urging Japanese aid and investment." they suddenly change sides.

Looking at the balance sheet it can be seen that each country benefited from a US$2.5 Million fisheries grant and since have taken between US$30 and US$40 Million in grant aid from the Japanese since.

The contempt Japan holds for the IWC is blatantly apparent when senior officials like Masayuki Komatsu see nothing wrong in using aid to induce the support of such nations by funding them "to get an appreciation of Japan's position."

Japan continues to buy votes from countries, urging them to join the IWC and support their pro-whaling stance.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Whale Index

Suborder Mysticeti
(Baleen Whales Or Mysticetes)
Family Balaenidae
Balaena mysticetus
Bowhead Whale
Eubalaena australis
Southern Right Whale
Eubalaena glacialis
North Atlantic Right Whale
Eubalaena japonica
North Pacific Right Whale
Family Neobalaenidae
Caperea marginata
Pygmy Right Whale
Family Eschrichtiidae
Eschrichtius robustus
Gray Whale
Family Balaenopteridae
Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Common Minke Whale
Balaenoptera bonaerensis
Antarctic Minke Whale
Balaenoptera borealis
Sei Whale
Balaenoptera brydei
Bryde's Whale
Balaenoptera edeni
Eden's Whale
Balaenoptera musculus
Blue Whale
Balaenoptera omurai
Omura's Whale
Balaenoptera physalus
Fin Whale
Megaptera novaeangliae
Humpback Whale

Whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is ILLEGAL

Harpoon Vessel - Yushin MaruNow that there can finally be no question about the fact that the actions of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The Australian Federal Courts have ruled that the Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha is breaking the law by whaling in Australian territory.
The Japanese whaling company Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha has a permit from the Japanese government to kill up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales in Antarctica this summer. Based on records of previous hunts, some 90 percent of these whales will be killed in the Australian Whale Sanctuary, the Humane Society said.
So what precisley are the Japanese guilty of?
The company's offenses are having "killed, injured, taken and interfered with Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) and fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and injured, taken and interfered with humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Australian Whale Sanctuary..."
This landmark ruling proves without a doubt that the Japanese are committing an offence by continuing to operate in the whale sanctuary. Wriggle as they must, the Japanese argue that they do no recognise the sovereignty of the Antarctic waters, the fact remains they have been found guilty in a court of law.

Whilst Sea Shepherd are often pilloried for their direct action in regard to defending whales this ruling goes to demonstrate that their enforcement of the law can no longer be questioned. Sea Shepherd's harassment and interference of the Japanese whaling fleets contempt of Australian authority is the only act of law enforcement within the whale sanctuary.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Species Spotlight: MINKE

The Minke is split into two distinct species. The Common (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and the Antarctic Minke (Balaenoptera bonaerensis).

Minke Whale
Common Minke Whale - Balaenoptera acutorostrata

The Minke Whale, also called the Lesser Rorqual, is the name given to two species of marine mammals belonging to the suborder of the baleen whale. The Minke Whale has been catagorised into two species, namely the Common Minke Whale or Northern Minke Whale, as well as the Antarctic Minke Whale or Southern Minke Whale. The Common Minke Whale has two or three subspecies, the North Atlantic Minke Whale, the North Pacific Minke Whale and Dwarf Minke Whale. All Minke Whales form part of the rorqual group, a family that includes the Humpback Whale, the Fin Whale and Blue Whale.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Whaling Propaganda

PDF FileToday, Japan continues to seek a whaling quota from the IWC to provide ‘emergency relief’ to four coastal towns that it claims are still suffering financial hardship and cultural disintegration as a direct result of the ban.

Attached you'll find a Japanese leaflets in which it attempts to justify the Japanese long tradition of whaling. What it fails to explain is that the traditional whaling has either long since been replaced by international modern whaling or has grown to such a proportion that it bears no resemblance to the original traditional takes made for subsistence.

PDF FileAlso attached is a document prepared by the WDCS (Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society) that demonstrates their reasoning to be contradictory to the truth, which is that there towns actually initially benefited from the whaling ban.

Short Finned Pilot Whales

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Norway's Whale Cruelty

PDF FileWhilst this article relates to a WDCS document (dated 2007) that shows the inconsistencies in regard to Norway's own legislation for the humane slaughter of livestock and the inhumane slaughter of whales, it goes to show that no whale can be guaranteed to be humanely slaughtered by any member of the whaling nations.

Minke Whale
...farmed animals are afforded legislative protection from pain and prolonged suffering at slaughter, hunted whales are not. As there is no way to ensure a humane death for hunted whales, the options for Norway are limited: inhumane slaughter or an end to commercial whaling.
It's a startling fact that such a high percentage of Norwegians consider the lengthy death of a whale to be unacceptable and also believe that all mammals should be afforded the same legislation regarding protection from prolonged pain and suffering.
Since the global ban on commercial whaling came into force in 1986, Norway has killed 7,157 minke whales using penthrite grenade harpoons, a slaughter method with such a high margin of error that it simply would not be tolerated by the Norwegian government or public for slaughter of terrestrial animals for commercial food production.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Whaling Isn't About Profits

PDF FileOne thing is for sure, the whaling industry isn't about making a profit. If it really is about economics, supply and demand and profit margins then whaling would have ceased many years ago.

Humpback Whale
The attached report shows that sales of whale meat and other by-products have made consistent losses over the past 20 years. An astronomical figure of $223 million dollars (US) since 1988. 2008/9 saw the Japanese government subsidising the whaling industry by $12 million dollars (US).


If the Japanese research program is really in search of a sustainable harvest of whale, regardless of the answer, success or failure of their results, the economics of their own market should be telling them there is no profit to be had in hunting whales.

If Japan were to accept that amount of whale meat from Iceland alone it would instantly double their stock. That would require that Japanese people start eating twice as much whale meat than they do now. Add Norway to that and common sense says that if you can't give it away, people aren't suddenly going to start paying for it.

It continues to elude the whaling nations that they have no market for this product. Iceland and Norway have both been recorded as attempting to rebuild their economies by creating jobs through whaling with a view to exporting 90% of their catch to Japan.

Japan can't sell the stockpile of whale meat it amasses each year. Records show that up to 6,000 tonnes of whale meat has been stored year after year without being eaten. It currently stands at 4,000 tonnes, that's 4,000,000 kgs of whale meat.

The energy required to freeze that much meat each year must far outweigh any possible chance of recovering its value. So what are the real reasons behind whaling?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Truth : Nothing More

Take the Red Pill
Morpheus opens a container which holds two pills : a blue one, and a red one. He puts one in each hand, and holds them out to Neo. 
Morpheus : This is your _last chance_. After this, there is no turning back.....You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up and believe...whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill.....you stay in wonderland...and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Neo pauses for an instant, then reaches for the red pill. He swallows it down with a glass of water, and looks at Morpheus.
Morpheus : Remember...all I'm offering you is the truth : nothing more.
The Matrix

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

Help Me Support This CauseAn Interview with Ric O'Barry

Ric O’ Barry is one of the world’s best known environmentalists. A former US Navy diver, he later trained the five dolphins that played ‘Flipper’ in the hit 1960’s TV series before turning against dolphin captivity in 1970. He has spent his life since as an animal rights campaigner and much of the last decade fighting what he calls the ‘secret genocide’ of dolphins in the Wakayama Pref. town of Taiji, where thousands of the animals are killed from October – March every year.

O’Barry travels to the small port town several times a year to film the annual dolphin-hunt for a coalition of environmental groups – www.SaveJapanDolphins.org. He claims he is despised by the town office, trailed by goons and harassed and threatened by whalers. “One fisherman down there told me if the whalers could kill me, they would,” he says. “I was kind of flattered. They call me ‘Samurai dolphin man,’ which shows that at least they respect me.”

Dolphins

Oddly, the first time the 67-year-old visited Taiji in 1975, he met the mayor and was given the keys to the town after leading a campaign against a US boycott of Japanese products led by anti-whalers that he considered ‘racist.’ He still believes boycotts will not stop whaling. “Boycotts are completely useless because the Japanese people don’t even know about this. They are a blanket condemnation of the Japanese people, and dolphin hunt is led by just 26 fishermen.”


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Truth About Traditional Japanese Whaling

Japan argues that whaling is a cultural tradition practiced by the Japanese for centuries. As such they believe they have an inherent right to continue this tradition.

But how traditional is it?

There were a few isolated Japanese villages that had killed whales in the past, but Japan as a whole demonstrated very little interest in whaling until a man named Jura Oka made his way to Norway, the Azores, and Newfoundland in the mid 1890's to study whaling. He learned whaling and purchased the equipment from the Norwegians. Hence, modern, commercial whaling began in Japan in 1898 long after the industry had been established in Europe and the Americas.

That first year, the first Japanese whaling company Hogei Gumi with one vessel, the Saikai-maru, killed a total of three whales. The harpooner and crew were hired Norwegians. The company failed, so Oka started a new company the Nihon Enyo Gyogyo K.K. on July 20, 1899 in Yamaguchi. Again the company employed a Norwegian harpooner and crew.

Norway was later to regret all the assistance they gave to Japan to learn whaling. One newspaper wrote this prediction, "Once the Japanese have appeared on the scene in any whaling ground, then the Norwegians will soon be banished from it!"

Monday, 24 August 2009

Whaling as a Science

PDF File
Japan makes every effort to justify its continued whaling through scientific research, but just how viable is that research?
Japan’s scientific whaling program in the North Pacific (JARPN) was originally described as a feasibility study, but it included no performance measures by which to judge its success or failure. To no one’s surprise, it was judged “successful” by Japan, and the full program (JARPN II) began in 2002.
The Japanese program in the Antarctic (JARPA) has similar problems. JARPA has been conducted for 16 years and has to date killed over 5900 minke whales.Yet as was noted in last year’s SC discussions, the value of JARPA’s work to management is certainly not apparent in its publication record, which is remarkably poor for a scientific effort on this scale.
In short, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that JARPN II exists to “demonstrate”—all data to the contrary notwithstanding— that whales eat too much fish and therefore should be culled by more whaling.
Bearing in mind the length of time the Japanese have been carrying out lethal research (16 years at the time of this article). Their research provided only ONE relevant paper to the IWC Scientific Committee (SC). When the IWC themselves were able to provide 19 of their own without such lethal requirements!
The list to which they refer readers (see www.whalesci.org/contribution) includes only a single paper (Kishino et al. 1991) that concerns IWC assessment needs and that is published in an international peer-reviewed journal; 19 similar papers were published by IWC. The remaining 137 “publications” consist of ... peer-reviewed articles (12) on topics of no value to management (e.g., “postthawing viability of frozen spermatozoa of male minke whales”). JARPA’s failure to publish in international refereed journals says much about the quality and motives of its science.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Icelandic Whaling

With Iceland trying to bouy its failed economy by creating jobs in the whaling industry and expecting to export 90% of its whale catch, is this a realistic proposition? Can they expect to export such a huge amount of whale meat each year? It equates to the entire annual stockpile (4,000 tonnes) already held by Japan. Are the Japanese going to suddenly double their consumption and disposal of whale meat?
The whale meat market in Japan is too small to consume the extra large amount of whale product that Icelandic whalers hope to export to Japan. Since most of the citizens have chosen to no longer eat whale meat, Japan is in a situation where even the government is unable to get rid of the huge stockpile of whale meat produced by its own whaling programme. Dealing in whale meat in the nation has become a loss making, low-credibility business that even the national fishing industry avoids. A director of Asian Trading Co. Ltd., who was in charge of the recent whale meat import from Iceland, has told Greenpeace that there is no market in Japan and that he is not planning another import from Iceland.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Who Eats All the Fish?

A Report to Humane Society International
By Wilf Swartz and Daniel Pauly
Presented at IWC 60
June 23, 2008
Santiago, Chile


I spent some time reading this report and it's content is truly astounding. It paints a very dark picture of our oceans future and makes a mockery of Japanese scientific research.

The Japanese claim that there needs to be a cull of whales in order to protect the oceans fish is one that they are using to draw third world or developing countries into the IWC and support Japan's wanting to resume commercial whaling.

It sounds like an almost plausible reason to consider the whale as a threat to our food sources and without further investigation could mislead others into supporting this line of thought.
The issues of economic development and food security in developing countries are multifaceted. The necessary debates, however, do not benefit from the confusion that the “whales-eat-our-fish” argument generates. On the contrary, the scarce scientific and administrative resources of developing countries are invested in a non-issue, their public media are being misled, and a tremendous amount of ill will is generated for no reason.

Friday, 21 August 2009

The History of Whaling and the International Whaling Commission

May 2007

WHERE DID THE IDEA OF THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMISSION COME FROM AND WHY?

Whaling as an industry began around the 11th Century when the Basques started hunting and trading the products from the northern right whale (now one of the most endangered of the great whales). They were followed first by the Dutch and the British, and later by the Americans, Norwegians and many other nations. Humpback and sperm whales were the next targets of commercial whaling, with oil for lighting and other uses as the most important product. In the late nineteenth century the whaling industry was transformed by the development of steam powered ships, enabling the hunting of faster blue and fin whales, and of the explosive harpoon, enabling further reach and increased accuracy. The new technology, coupled with the depletion of whales in the rest of the world, led to the spread of hunting to the Antarctic, where huge concentrations of feeding whales made large-scale whaling highly profitable. The First World War provided a large market for explosives using glycerine from baleen whale oil provided by British and Norwegian whaling in the Antarctic. Meanwhile Japanese whaling had developed separately as a coastal industry, mainly for humpback, right and grey whales.

Since whales migrate world-wide through both coastal waters and the open oceans, the need for international co-operation in their conservation became evident. By 1925, the League of Nations recognised that whales were over-exploited and that there was a need to regulate whaling activities. In 1930, the Bureau of International Whaling Statistics was set up in order to keep track of catches. This was followed by the first international regulatory agreement, the Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was signed by 22 nations in 1931. However, some of the major whaling nations, including Germany and Japan, did not join and 43,000 whales were killed that same year.

With species after species of the great whales being hunted close to extinction, various nations met throughout the 1930s attempting to bring order to the industry. Finally, in 1948 the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) came into force. The Preamble states that "Recognising the interest of the nations of the world in safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks.....having decided to conclude a convention to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry". The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established as its decision-making body, originally with 14 member states. The IWC meets annually and adopts regulations on catch limits, whaling methods and protected areas, on the basis of a three-quarters majority vote. In recent years the IWC, recognizing new threats to whales, has moved towards a broader conservation agenda which includes incidental catches in fishing gear and concerns related to global environmental change. Whale hunting by indigenous people, called "aboriginal subsistence" whaling, is subject to different IWC controls than those on commercial whaling.

Today the IWC has 73 member states, including whaling countries, ex-whaling countries, and countries that have never had whaling industries but joined either to have a voice in the conservation of whales or to support whaling interests.

Boycott Japanese Electronics

Sign the PetitionAs the international community seems unable to sway the Japanese governments support of whaling, regarding it as a cultural inheritance and that any attempt to stop it would be seen as imperialistic, there seems little option other than economic sanction.

It is our aim make leading Japanese organisations aware of the part that their taxes play in subsidising this non-profitable and ecologically unsound industry and realise that whilst they are indirectly supporting this industry there is a cost to be paid.

We're not going to realistically stop buying goods that include Japanese technology, that would be very difficult to investigate fully. Focus on the part of the battle we can win. Target the easy stuff. The big stuff, the obviously Japanese products - it's enough of a voice to be heard.


List of Japanese Electronics Companies [Link]