Friday, October 16, 2009
Japan Stop The Whale Slaughter
Australian authorities fear that the world's only known white humpback whale could be slaughtered as Japan's whaling fleet prepares to embark on its annual hunt in the Southern Ocean.
The one-of-a-kind male humpback, named Migaloo (an Aboriginal word for "white fella"), has become a celebrity in Australia since being spotted for the first time in 1991. Each year, he - along with other closely-knit humpback pods - migrates from the icy seas of Antarctica to the warm shallows of the South Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef. A few months later, the females - leading their newly-born calves - return to Antarctica.
The arrival of 45 foot-long Migaloo - believed to be the only completely white humpback in the world - is keenly anticipated by whale watchers along Australia's east coast. He has been hailed as modern day Moby Dick, even though the creature in Herman Melville's 1851 classic was a sperm whale.
Marine biologists and conservationists, however, fear that Migaloo (who is accustomed to/comfortable near whale-watching and fishing boats) will be an easy target for Japanese hunters. How he's managed to escape their harpoons up until this point is anyone's guess.
With the southern hemisphere summer approaching, the Japanese whaling fleet is preparing to leave port within days, defiantly declaring that it will kill 50 humpbacks, as well as 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales. The Japanese argue that - after decades of hunting - fin and humpback whales have recovered to "sufficient levels" that their population can now withstand being "harvested" again.
The Fisheries Agency in Tokyo refused to rule out killing Migaloo, with officials offering a blunt "no comment" to media inquiries. Instead, the agency called on Australia and New Zealand to ensure that the Japanese fleet would be protected from anti-whaling ships operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (which regular readers of this blog will recognize as my all-time favorite environmental group).
Last year, Sea Shepherd threatened to ram outlaw Japanese vessels with a ship fitted with a bulldozer-type blade. Even though the group operates under international and regional maritime law, Tokyo has conveniently branded them as "environmental terrorists."
"(Australia and New Zealand) maintain the same position as Japan does against the violent action of terrorists," spokesman Hideki Moronuki told ABC Radio. "[We] need support from those two countries in order to secure the safety of our crews and (our ships)."
But the captain of Sea Shepherd's two vessels, Paul Watson, said he's got the law on his side:
"They're targeting endangered species in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on whaling. If Japan reacts violently to us, causes any injury at all to any of our people, that will backlash very severely on Japan because Japan is the criminal nation here," he said.
Japan uses a loophole in International Whaling Commission laws to hunt around 1,000 whales each year in the Southern Hemisphere, ostensibly for the purposes of "scientific research."
This December, Captain Watson & his crew will embark on their fourth expedition to meet the Japanese harpoon fleet head on, in a campaign they've dubbed "Operation Migaloo." As these bastards hunt down and kill the whales, Sea Shepherd will be hunting them.
Please give Watson a hand if you can. Even a couple of bucks could make a big difference. Pass it on.
Tags: ecology, endangered species, environment, japan, marine life, oceans, paul watson, sea shepherd, whales, whaling
YOU CAN HELP!
By adopting a North Atlantic right whale you can help us try to resolve these problems. Adopt an individual whale, a mother/calf pair, or a whole family for yourself, as a gift for family and friends, as a memoriam, or for your classroom or group. The tax deductible adoption fee will go towards costs for right whale research, conservation and education programs including:
co-operating in a whale disentanglement network in the Bay of Fundy, tracking entangled whales to hopefully remove entangling fishing lines.
analysis of faecal material for lipids to determine efficiency of digestion. Faecal material floats briefly at the surface and can be collected with a fine mesh net. Remains from digestion of the tiny zooplankton can then be analyzed.
using small hand held computers linked to Global Positioning System units to record sightings of right whales seen during whale watches. Whale watchers are often out for a longer period of time, in slightly harsher weather and cover a larger area than dedicated right whale researchers who work with limited budgets and therefore concentrate their effort in areas that will be most productive.
working closely with whale watchers to continue adherence to a voluntary Code of Ethics and providing as much information as possible for them in the promotion of stewardship of right whales.
developing a Code of Conduct for fishermen to help them make informed decisions when fishing if right whales are present.
Click here to learn how to: Adopt a Right Whale
2006 Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station Inc.
24 Route 776,
Grand Manan, NB Canada
Ph. 506 662 3804 506 662 3804
Fax 506 662 9804
Whale Emergency Network - Maritimes
( 1-800-565-1633 1-800-565-1633 , Enivronmental Emergencies)
This team is primarily focused on right whales in the Bay of Fundy but is capable of disentangling other species as the need arises and can respond in a limited fashion in other nearby locations. This is a co-operative program with a number of groups including the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, New Brunswick Department of Fisheries, Campobello Whale Rescue Team, New England Aquarium, Center for Coastal Studies, local whale watch companies, interested residents and the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station. Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided the funds for equipment purchased.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, call 1-888-895-3003 1-888-895-3003 , the Whale Rescue and Strandings Group.
In Quebec, call 1-877-722-5346 1-877-722-5346 , the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network.