Tag Archives: whaling

“Total chaos. Bloody water. Whales dying. People getting arrested.”

(Title is the description by someone who shared the story, Melanie Jacobs).
This butchering of pilot whales is unsustainable and barbaric, and protesters have been arrested for entering the water and banging on poles in hopes of driving off the whales before they can be slaughtered.
Please sign this petition to help persuade the Faroese (who are supported by the Danish Navy) to join the modern age instead of clinging like limpets to past that is gone.

17 protesters were arrested.
14 protesters were arrested.

 
“The local community heads out in small boats loaded with stones, hooks, ropes, and knives. Once they’ve approached the pod, the boats form a small half-circle behind the pod. Small rocks attached to lines are thrown into the water to create a wall of bubbles to reflect the sonar of the pilot whale. The cetaceans interpret the bubbles as a cliff wall that they must steer away from – because of this, the small boats are able to herd the cetaceans towards a low-lying shore. As the pod approaches land, the boats continue to harass and frighten the mammals until they’re washed up on the shore. Once beached, a knife is used to cut through the veins and arteries that supply blood to the pilot whales head. Some pilot whales suffer for as much as 30 seconds while others can take up to four minutes to die.
Fullscreen capture 8302014 112855 AM grind
Those pilot whales that do not wash ashore have a gaff hook beaten into their blowhole and are then pulled ashore by rope. As a result of public pressure campaigns spearheaded by groups like Sea Shepherd in the 1980s, the gaff hook no longer resembles its sharper predecessor, but the blocking of the cetacean’s airway is incredibly painful and results in panic and injury. The fear and suffering is no less mitigated by a sea that quickly turns red with blood in a bizarre ritual reminiscent of Roman gladiatorial violence. As the entire human community partakes in the blood orgy, the whale meat is divided up among the locals although many times the whale meat is simply left to rot on the beach. Up to 1,000 pilot whales are killed annually in this manner, primarily in the months of July and August.” About the campaign.
Injured, dying, and dead whales can be seen to the right as this protester was taken away.
Injured, dying, and dead whales can be seen to the right as this protester was taken away.

This video is in French, but the pictures tell the story – it is included here because what it reveals undermines the claims by the Faroese people that they have this brutal tradition in order to eat the meat.  If you can’t stomach the blood, then start at the 2:21 minute mark.

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson:
For the last 85 days, Sea Shepherd has been able to find and escort whale pods away from the Faroe Islands. We have documented the activities but have not released them so as to not anger the whalers. Today a pod of 35 pilot whales came so close to a killing bay on Sandoy that the thugs from that island were able to get to them rather quickly.
Sea Shepherd land crew made it to the beach and into the water as three Sea Shepherd three fast boats arrived on the scene before the killing began. Unfortunately a police helicopter from Torshaven and vessels from the Danish Navy made it to the Bay at the same time. The Danish Navy ordered the boats to stand off. We have not heard back from the boats so we do not know what their situation is. We do know the entire Sandoy land team has been arrested and 35 pilot whales are dead on the beach.
Maggie Gschnitzer Italy
Rorigio Gilkuri is from Mexico
Nikki Botha (south Africa)
Monnique Rossouw (South Africa)
Sergio Toribio (Spain)
Alexandra Sellet (France)
There are three Sea Shepherd fast boats in the water. Not yet fully confirmed that the B.S. Sheen, Charlie Sheens boat has been taken and three crew arrested.
Now that this slaughter has taken place, we can mention that over the last 82 days, Sea Shepherd boat crews have deflected three pods of whales away from the island before the killers could spot them. Unfortunately covering 18 islands is a difficult task but I am proud of the fact hat our volunteers saved those whales and made a valiant attempt to save these 35.
The positive side of this encounter is we now have evidence to implicate the Danish government and Sea Shepherd will take this evidence to the European Parliament to demand that action be taken against Denmark for collaboration with an illegal slaughter of whales. No European member of the EU may be involved with whaling and although the Faroese is not a member of the EU they receive massive subsidies from the EU through Denmark. The Faroese may be exempt but Denmark is not and now we have the evidence that pilot whale blood in on the hands of Danish sailors and Danish Police, What is rotten in the Faroes is also very much rotten in Denmark.
Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

U.S. Certifies to Obama That Icelandic Whaling Undermines CITES and Whale Population Recovery

There are several petitions circulating on this cause.
Press Release
Interior Certifies that Iceland’s Commercial Whaling Undermines International Wildlife Conservation Treaty
February 6, 2014
Contacts:
Claire Cassel
703-358-2357
Claire_Cassel@fws.gov
Minke-Whale-With-Calf-SlaughteredWASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. As provided under the Pelly Amendment, within 60 days following certification by the Secretary the President will determine what actions are appropriate in response to the certification.
“Just 25 years ago, commercial whaling had nearly driven whales to extinction, but thanks to a global effort to conserve whale stocks and end over-harvesting, several whale species have begun to recover,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine these worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”

The Havlur whaling company also created whale beer.
The Hvalur whaling company also created controversial whale beer.

Hvalur, the sole Icelandic company engaged in harvesting fin whales, resumed fin whale hunting in 2013, following a two-year hiatus due to market decline in Japan following the 2011 earthquake. The 2013 whaling season ran from mid-June until the end of September with a total of 134 fin whales killed. Iceland sets its own catch quotas for commercial whaling and has significantly increased those quotas over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the annual quota was set at just nine fin whales, while the 2013 annual quota authorized the hunting of up to 184 fin whales.
Iceland has recently announced a new five-year quota for fin whales, to begin with the 2014 whaling season, which will allow a total of up to 770 fin whales to be hunted in the next five years. Fin whales are hunted solely for export to the Japanese market.
From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.
Iceland also does not follow the procedure laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to assess sustainable catch levels. The IWC was established to manage whaling activities for the conservation of whale populations and is viewed as the global body with expertise for the management of whale stocks.
In July 2011, then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified under Pelly that the commercial whaling activities by Icelandic nationals are undermining the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program. In response to that certification, the President directed federal agencies to undertake a number of diplomatic actions to encourage Iceland to change its whaling policy.

Photo by e-activist.com
Photo by e-activist.com

CITES is an international agreement signed by 179 nations that is designed to control and regulate international trade in certain listed animal and plant species. Approximately 35,000 species currently benefit from CITES protection. For additional information on CITES, please refer tohttp://www.fws.gov/international/cites/how-cites-works.html.
For additional information on the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, please refer to http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/pelly-amendment.htm

U.S. Certifies to Obama That Icelandic Whaling Undermines CITES and Whale Population Recovery

There are several petitions circulating on this cause.
Press Release
Interior Certifies that Iceland’s Commercial Whaling Undermines International Wildlife Conservation Treaty
February 6, 2014
Contacts:
Claire Cassel
703-358-2357
Claire_Cassel@fws.gov
Minke-Whale-With-Calf-SlaughteredWASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. As provided under the Pelly Amendment, within 60 days following certification by the Secretary the President will determine what actions are appropriate in response to the certification.
“Just 25 years ago, commercial whaling had nearly driven whales to extinction, but thanks to a global effort to conserve whale stocks and end over-harvesting, several whale species have begun to recover,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Iceland’s whaling activities undermine these worldwide efforts to conserve whales.”

The Havlur whaling company also created whale beer.
The Hvalur whaling company also created controversial whale beer.

Hvalur, the sole Icelandic company engaged in harvesting fin whales, resumed fin whale hunting in 2013, following a two-year hiatus due to market decline in Japan following the 2011 earthquake. The 2013 whaling season ran from mid-June until the end of September with a total of 134 fin whales killed. Iceland sets its own catch quotas for commercial whaling and has significantly increased those quotas over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the annual quota was set at just nine fin whales, while the 2013 annual quota authorized the hunting of up to 184 fin whales.
Iceland has recently announced a new five-year quota for fin whales, to begin with the 2014 whaling season, which will allow a total of up to 770 fin whales to be hunted in the next five years. Fin whales are hunted solely for export to the Japanese market.
From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.
Iceland also does not follow the procedure laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to assess sustainable catch levels. The IWC was established to manage whaling activities for the conservation of whale populations and is viewed as the global body with expertise for the management of whale stocks.
In July 2011, then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke certified under Pelly that the commercial whaling activities by Icelandic nationals are undermining the effectiveness of the IWC conservation program. In response to that certification, the President directed federal agencies to undertake a number of diplomatic actions to encourage Iceland to change its whaling policy.
Photo by e-activist.com
Photo by e-activist.com

CITES is an international agreement signed by 179 nations that is designed to control and regulate international trade in certain listed animal and plant species. Approximately 35,000 species currently benefit from CITES protection. For additional information on CITES, please refer tohttp://www.fws.gov/international/cites/how-cites-works.html.
For additional information on the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967, please refer to http://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/pelly-amendment.htm

Norway is Killing More Whales Than It Can Use, Illegally Shipping Surplus to Japan

This seems to be the same tired story: old, narrow-minded and backwards beliefs causing people to behave badly.
Unfortunately people invest themselves in lifestyles that can only be sustained by destruction – and then argue that they have a right to keep doing it because it is their livelihood. Commercial fishery is a prime example – take too many fish you will soon pull up empty nets.
When resources collapse the blame games begin, and Norwegian (and Japanese) officials have got it in their collective noggins that the whales are responsible for depleted fish stocks. Solution? Kill the whales, even though this is contrary to the International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling. Then pretend that you are doing it for science, for food, or because your ancestors did it. {Note, some baleen whales do eat fish as part of their diet}.

But apparently Norwegians can only consume part of their whale catch, so they are shipping the surplus to Japan – in their press release, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) writes:

A bill of lading obtained by AWI shows that a shipment of 4,250 kg of frozen whale products from the Norwegian company, Myklebust Trading, left Ålesund, Norway, in mid-February, 2013, and is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on April 12. Paperwork identifies the recipient as a Japanese company, Toshi International.
International commercial trade in whale products is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Norway—unlike Iceland—has not successfully exported whale meat commercially since the 1980s, although attempts have been made. Most recently, a 2008 shipment of five metric tons of minke whale meat from Myklebust Trading, was rejected by the Japanese government due to contamination concerns.
AWI Executive Director Susan Millward called on the U.S. and other governments “to act decisively to convince Japan to reject Norway’s recent shipment of whale products.”

Minke whale (by Vania Kam on Flickr)

In the U.S. waters where whales are afforded complete protection, fish stocks are coming back when human impact is moderated (U.S Fish Stocks Rebound From Depletion). The whales are in balance with the plankton and fish in the ocean – even though they consume vast quantities, the great whales in particular tend to migrate long distances, and undergo fasts during parts of the year that can go on for months at a time, giving the food webs an opportunity to rebuild.
Norway, Japan, and Iceland take turns killing the whales and shipping the meat to each other in a shell game, and still their fish stocks continue to dwindle (read the AWI report here). Those countries have an attitude that they can continue in the old ways – even though those old ways got the ocean into the situation it is today – and they just look foolish to the rest of the world.

Judges Rule in Favor of Japanese Whalers – But Are They Impartial?

2/27/13 A US federal court has ordered the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to cease interfering with the Japanese whaling at sea, making it possible for for Japanese whalers to continue legal action in the United States against the activists. The judges overturned the December 17, 2012 ruling by a district judge who had ruled that the piracy claim brought by the Japanese was unfounded. But are these judges unbiased?
Chief judge Alex Kozinski wrote that “you don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch” to be classified as pirates” and called the Sea Shepherd founder, Paul Watson, “eccentric” – yet he has admitted to posting pornographic material on his website.
The other two judges who ruled on this case are Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima (born 1934) “the third Asian American and first Japanese American in the history of the United States to be appointed to a United States Court of Appeals”, and conservation conservative Judge Milan Smith Jr., who dissented on the need to use a different circuit judge but concurred on all other points.
Absolutely shocking  is the vitriolic nature of chief judge Kozinski‘s written explanation of the ruling , in which he questions the impartiality of the district judge who dismissed Japan’s case last year). Kozinski writes:
“The district judge’s numerous, serious and obvious errors identified in our opinion raise doubts as to whether he will be perceived as impartial in presiding over this high-profile case. The appearance of justice would be served if the case were transferred to another district judge, drawn at random, and we so order in accordance with the standing orders of the Western District of Washington. The panel retains jurisdiction over any further appeals or writs involving this case”. (The 18 page document can be found here).
Bad luck, I thought at first, to draw such a conservative judge. Curious about the judge’s views I did a quick search and what I learned stopped me in my tracks:

June 12, 2008 “9th Circuit’s chief judge posted sexually explicit matter on his website”.

“One of the highest-ranking federal judges in the United States, who is currently presiding over an obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos. Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledged in an interview with The Times that he had posted the materials, which included a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as “funny.”
Kozinski said he would delete some material from his site, including the photo depicting women as cows, which he said was “degrading … and just gross.” He also said he planned to get rid of a graphic step-by-step pictorial in which a woman is seen shaving her pubic hair.
…Kozinski said he must have accidentally uploaded those images to his server while intending to upload something else. “I would not keep those files intentionally,” he said. The judge pointed out that he never used appeals court computers to maintain the site.
The sexually explicit material on Kozinski’s site earlier this week was extensive, including images of masturbation, public sex and contortionist sex. There was a slide show striptease featuring a transsexual, and a folder that contained a series of photos of women’s crotches as seen through snug fitting clothing or underwear. There were also themes of defecation and urination, though they are not presented in a sexual context.”
The L A Times.
Kozinski, who was named chief judge of the 9th Circuit last year, is considered a judicial conservative on most issues. He was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1985.”

The fact that Kozinski’s interests are distasteful to most of us doesn’t mean that he is not a good judge on the nuances of the law, but it certainly means that he is in no place to impugn the character of another judge, nor to use words like “eccentric” in describing another individual.
His legal opinion on this case sounds angry, and well…opinionated.

This is what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society seeks to protect.

The Mayans Got it Right – the World is Quickly Changing

Caption: On October 22, 1967, Bernie Boston photographed his iconic Flower Power photograph, which featured Vietnam War protester George Harris inserting flowers into a National Guardsmen’s rifle barrel.(From the Frankly Penn blog)

Comparing the 20th century to now there are many hopeful signs. Look at the way people view war. These days many people challenge the need for it, they question why we have to resort to it. In the early twentieth century there was no talk about protecting the environment, yet now everyone is aware of it. Our perceptions are coming closer to reality; humanity is becoming more mature and I am optimistic about the future. Dalai Lama

In terms of protecting the environment, humanity is beginning to understand that the problems of this fragile planet concern us all, whether the issues occur in the jungles of South America or in the remote polar regions – deadly chemicals eventually circulate the globe. The murder and mayhem of war destroys everything in its path, including the environment – and to what end?
There have always been individuals and groups who stood firmly for the values of peace and environmental awareness, but until the current generation came along they have often been relegated to the fringes of society. The difference now is the networking made possible by the internet, and the ease with which young people adapt it to communicate the realities of violence to the rest of the world.
The once lone voices in the wilderness now have the powerful, energetic, and determined force of global tides to support them, but although it can be hip and fun, make no mistake, it still takes courage and resources to protect what we have left.

What the Mayan prophecy and threat of Doomsday has done is that worldwide, people took time to think about what is important – the question of ‘what would you take if your house was burning’ was transmuted into ‘what would do if the world ended’, and if nothing else, it made us all realize that the possibility of Doomsday is in our hands.

Man Against Dolphin – a Search for Understanding the Conundrum That is Japan

Right now the annual bloodbath of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan is ongoing.  During this archaic process dolphins and small whales are driven into a cove where some are destined to be sold to amusement parks while the rest are cruelly slaughtered en masse nearby, the screeching screams of their pod mates audible to all.  It is so senselessly cruel and unnecessary that it bewilders the more educated people everywhere – why does the government of Japan allow this to go on?  There is the usual claim of indigenous rights to eat the dolphins, yet they harvest more than the village can consume…and certainly there is nothing indigenous about selling dolphins to amusement parks.
The fallback position of the Japanese always comes down to their belief that the dolphins eat too many fish, hence as man’s competitors their numbers must be controlled…an almost bizarre demonstration of a lack of higher order thinking in which critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving seem to be completely lacking.  Very strange, considering how otherwise cultured, educated, and modern Japan is seen to be – and search for understanding this also involves understanding that people in varying cultures become entrenched in what allowed them to survive, and in counties like Japan these skills are passed from generation to generation, and their whole outlook on the world may be different than ours.

Lately the graphic images of blood filled water, massacred populations of dolphins, and assorted carcasses of marine mammals have dominated the cyber environment where my attention is normally focused, and it is so relentless and disturbing that I find myself disinclined to check Facebook for updates. Yet I realize that this barrage of unsettling information is a good sign because it means that public awareness of the senseless brutality of man towards ocean life is beginning to snowball as it becomes clear that the constant abuse of the marine environment has reached a tipping point. If we keep destroying the ocean we will destroy ourselves in the bargain – some of it due to greed as in our search for resources, some to fear of other nations as in our navies, but most egregious of all is the free rein given to a few senselessly cruel practices in many nations to kill the innocent, friendly, and benign dolphins and whales that have swum the oceans since before humans evolved.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to reason with people whose living involves the destruction of the environment, whether it is due to oil exploration, development, ranching, fishing, or industry. In every case a handful of powerful people try to run over the rights of the public – from ranchers who are trying to have the wild horses exterminated so that their cattle can run on public land to fishermen who believe that marine mammals should not be allowed to eat the ocean’s fish, these people fight tooth and nail continue their destructive ways of operating.
Yet if we truly seek to understand these cultures we may find more effective ways to bring awareness to them and stop the senseless destruction of the other intelligent beings that share our planet. Given that people have only relatively recently discovered the depth of intelligence and compassion possessed by dolphins and whales it is possible to understand that the barbaric cultures of the past did not know what they were killing.
But now we know better, and as it is often said, when we know better, we do better.

Taiji, “Look Not Upon a Right Whale”; In 1878 Greed Cost the Lives of Over One Hundred Japanese Whalers

The Taiji whalers now only hunt the gentle dolphins that they know won’t hurt them, even as the dolphins are stabbed to death. (JapanProbe photo)

The superstition:

Some years ago there lived a wealthy fisherman called Matsushima Tomigoro at Matsushima, in Nagasaki. He made a large fortune by whale-fishing. One night he dreamed a strange dream. A whale (zato kujira), carrying a baby whale, appeared before his pillow, and requested him to let her and the baby go safely–they were going to pass a certain part of the sea at a certain time and date. Matsushima heartlessly did not accede, but took advantage of the information. He put a net in the said sea at the due time, and caught a whale and her baby. Not long after, the cruel fisherman began to reap the harvest of his mercilessness. Misfortune after misfortune befell him, and all his wealth disappeared.
‘It must be the result of his cruelty in killing the whale and its baby,’ said the neighbours; and for some time they never caught whales carrying babies.

The event that occurred in 1878:

As the year of 1878 dragged into winter the beach-master or ‘ami-moto’ was getting desperate. At that time there were two hereditary leaders in Taiji. One was Taiji Kakuemon, who ran the business operations, and the other was his relative, Wada Kinemon, the advisory head. On December 24, 1878, after a bleak, poverty-ridden period of poor catches, a big female right whale and her calf were spotted by the lookouts. The triple black and white pennant was raised and the whalers momentarily relaxed, for the whalers knew that a female and her calf were not to be hunted. It was late afternoon, and for a successful hunt, a whale would have to be killed and secured before nightfall.
At the beach in front of the shrine of Asuka, the two leaders argued. Kakuemon insisted that the village needed a whale, and needed one before the New Year. Kinemon said no, it was not their custom to hunt a female with calf, and that it drew late, that bad things would befall them if they broke this rule.
Nevertheless, Kakuemon gave the order to hunt, and as the red signals went up and the conches blew from the lookouts, the surprised whalers jumped to their long sculling oars and the gaudy, sleek boats darted forward. The whale was enmeshed and harpooned, but she fought with great fury, and dragged the boats out to sea. Cold winds were blowing from the shore and the men became cold and exhausted. It got dark. By morning the fleet was scattered, and no matter how hard the men in the boats attempting to tow the whale struggled at their oars, the winds, current, cold and the sheer size of the whale was too much for them. Finally, in tears, they cut the whale loose. The storm grew worse.
Within a few days, the cream of the Taiji whalers, and the best of their boats, had been swept far out to sea and had died from exposure or drowning. Some drifted as far as the seven islands of Izu. Estimates of the death roll vary from 111 to 130 men killed. Only a handful survived.
Taiji Kakuemon, in his grief, gave his entire family estate to the bereaved families, and eventually left Taiji for good. The village was plunged into an awful depression, and many young men left for foreign shores, for Hawaii, California, Canada, Mexico. Many of the dances, skills and sea lore of the whalers died with those men who chased the taboo female, and although there were attempts over the next two decades to rebuild the net whaling fleet, they had small success.
C.W. Nicol
February 1979
Taiji, Japan

(From the Taiji Action Group)

Background on the Taiji controversy-
The villagers of Taiji, Japan persist in the slaughter of whales and dolphins, primarily to feed the captive display pipeline (see Save Japan Dolphins for more information). The country of Japan supports the activity of this village, and as a nation continues to kill more whales than they consume. They believe that the whales eat more than their share of fish, and so Japanese whalers are motivated less by the desire to eat whale meat as they are to kill off the competition for resources. From the Consulate-General of Japan, Sydney

 
 

Competition between whales and fisheries
Research by Japan’s Whale Research Program in the Northwest Pacific has revealed that whales eat huge amounts of fisheries resources.
It is estimated that whales consume approximately three to five times as much marine resources as the world’s yearly marine fisheries production volume. (The exact amount varies depending on the yearly marine fisheries production output).
Besides eating Krill, which is also food for fish, whales eat a large amount of Anchovies, Mackerel, Saury, Salmon, Squid and Walleye pollack. Furthermore, it has become clear that whales feast on certain types of fish during their most prolific season. Japan as a fishing nation cannot overlook this issue.

 
 
 

Fin Whales Face Iceland’s Harpoons Once More: Creative Math Yields Goofy Graphs

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) recently issued a press release which warns that Iceland plans to slaughter endangered whales this summer:

The Icelandic newspaper Skessuhorn reported yesterday that it had “reliable evidence” fin whaling will begin again, after being shut down last summer due to the impacts of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Although Kristján Loftsson, director of Hvalur, would not confirm, the paper claimed it had evidence that whaling will begin in June and is likely to last for three months.
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) are urging European and US leaders to take strong diplomatic actions to end Iceland’s continued and expanding whaling.
Clare Perry, EIA senior campaigner, said: “Iceland has exported almost 2,000 tonnes of whale meat to Japan in recent years. The Icelandic whaling company Hvalur is deliberately growing an export market for an endangered species which is protected by two international agreements to which Iceland is signatory. We are calling on the EU and US to take urgent steps to end this rogue whaling.”

It is shortsighted for Iceland to take this stance, since the profitability of selling the meat (contaminated with pollutants often in excess of safe standards), is not sustainable…but of course that is not the whole story, and direct profit from whale slaughter may not even been their primary reason for killing the whales.  Simply put, whales and dolphins are seen as competitors for fish by the fishing industries of these countries, and they rely on some fairly creative figures to justify their position.
These days, any theoretical paper you read on the subject of fisheries involves mind boggling mathematics and complex computer models – yet even so, in the final analysis, the models often fall short of being an accurate representation of what is going on below the ocean surface, and when it comes to apex predators such as whales, the results can be disastrous if the figures are used to calculate how many can be slaughtered.
The problem with this type of approach is that is a top down strategy – starting with the top predators and working down the food chain to plankton – but the ocean is a bottom up system, and biologically it is driven by the biomass of plankton.  So much so that biological oceanography gives little more than a nod to anything higher up the food chain than krill.  But most of the basic fisheries models don’t include the whole life cycle loop, and for good reason – it adds too much complexity.
Yet the island countries of Iceland and Japan put considerable resources into trying to figure out just how many fish the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) consume. Based on theoretical numbers, they use these models to decide how many whales and dolphins to kill in order to conserve their lucrative fish industries (both countries enjoy a high standard of living), and they base the concept on some fairly contorted theorizing.
In this first graph, it looks like they tied a knot to make the data fit (*see below for source information):
And this one shows how you take four possible scenarios and stuff them in a sock to force data to fit:
From those numbers they come up with something like this, which seems to show that without the competition from marine mammals there would be a couple hundred thousand tons more fish for the fisheries industry:

The dashed line is the theoretical amount of catch without cetaceans (solid line), timeline should read 1993 to 2023.

But all of these mental gymnastics miss the point:  prior to the 19th century – when humans began commercial whaling in earnest – the oceans were teeming with fish.  The oceans were a system in balance, but with the development of technology humans reached farther and deeper into the seas, causing the collapse of fish (such as cod) as well as cetacean populations.  In other words, there were more fish when there were more whales.
The reason that it will never add up to take out other top predators and substitute our nets is that we remove the fish entirely from the system, interrupting the natural cycle and ignoring the feedback mechanisms that strike a balance in nature. Natural predators leave waste, and eventually their own bodies, to help fuel the system.

And we don’t know what the heck we are doing.  Please sign the petition to help put an end to Icelandic whaling.
*Reference for the graphs:  On Dynamic Interactions Between Some Fish Resources and Cetaceans off Iceland Based on a Simulation Model)

Japanese “Research” Whalers vs Sea Shepherd – Sunday ‘What Are They Thinking?’ Category

If the tables were turned…

It is baffling, really, that the Japanese whalers think they might find success in American courts to protect  Japanese illegal whale slaughter (see earlier article) – Americans are against both the slaughter of whales and the protection of criminals on the high seas. (The text below is taken from court transcripts).
THE COURT (The judge): “Let me ask you a few questions,
counsel. I have identified that balancing hardships as an
issue for this court. If the purpose of the Institute of
Cetacean Research is truly research, why have I not seen
any documented evidence of how defendants’ activities are
interfering or disrupting your ability to conduct
research?

(Courtesy Inventor Spot)

Plaintiff (Japanese whalers’ attorney): “So I don’t think this scientific research is — In our view it is a red herring. They would like to turn
this case into a case about the validity of the permit,
about the validity and value of scientific research on
whales. But the court should not wade into that quagmire
in a situation in which the court is being asked to do one
thing, and one thing only, and that is to protect property
and life.

(The judge’s final ruling on this case is complicated by jurisdictional matters and may take a while to sort out, but there is nothing to indicate that the decision to not put an injunction on Sea Shepherd will change).