Category

Commercial whaling

Japan’s Refusal To Eat Toxic Whale Meat Could Save Whale Populations

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In a segment on Public Radio International’s Living on Earth program recently, the subject of toxicants in whale meat leading to Japan’s refusal to import Norwegian meat came up. Peter Dykstra of EHN and Daily Climate was quoted in the story:

Recently, two groups, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Animal Welfare Institute, uncovered documents showing that Japan rejected imports of whale meat from Norway due to pesticide contamination — chemicals linked to birth defects and cancer like aldrin, dieldrin, and chlordane.

While the Save The Whale movement has been one of the most successful environmental campaigns over the last thirty years, due to the diversity of threats – new and existing – and a stubbornness by certain countries to change their habits, many people consider that whales now face more threats than ever before.

Millions of dollars have been spent on campaigns to try to stop the Japanese from commercial whaling. While it is a cultural issue for the Japanese, it is still taking a huge toll on whale and dolphin populations. For the last 25 years, Ocean Alliance has been worried about the slow, ubiquitous bioconcentration of environmental toxicants in whales and the devastating effect this can have on mammalian health.

A tragic upside of this that Ocean Alliance has been exploring over the last decade is the fact that this means that whale meat is too toxic to eat. This work has been reinforced by Japan’s refusal to import Norwegian whale meat. In Japan, it was status symbol, but now, it has lost its cachet.

Often in science, we have to give proof before we can lobby for changes in society’s behavior. But in the case of human consumption of whale meat, our CEO Iain Kerr finds real irony in the fact that whales could be saved because we’ve poisoned them as to be unfit to eat.

Ocean Alliance has spent years gathering this data – for instance, we provided the data for the movie The Cove – and we will continue collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data on toxicants in whales – and perhaps that, ultimately, that can save them.

One Voice, a Thousand Voices of Justice for the Whales

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Guest Post by Dr. Mariano Sironi–Scientific Director of Ocean Alliance Southern Right Whale Program partner Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas 

9 May 2014

 Centuries of centuries and only in the present

do things happen;

countless men in the air,

on the face of the earth and the sea,

and all that really is happening is happening to me.”

From The garden of forking paths, Jorge Luis Borges

On March 31st, 2014 the International Court of Justice at The Hague instructed the government of Japan to end its “scientific” whaling operations in Antarctica, in response to a demand by the government of Australia. The Court evaluated Japan’s Research Whaling Program in the Antarctic (JARPA II) and concluded that “the special permits granted by Japan in connection with JARPA II do not fall within the provisions of scientific research of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling” and thus, is not science. Read More

What We Came to Protect

By | Commercial whaling, mar14, Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd Australia | No Comments

A Guest Post from Our Sea Shepherd Science Liaison in the Southern Ocean–Eva Hidalgo:

Ice Field in Southern Ocean - Photo by Eliza MuirheadAfter a few weeks of sailing between the 60°S and the 70°S latitudes, the amount of whale sightings seemed to be below our expectations. That may not be very good news for our data collection program, where we collect information from all the sightings of cetaceans; but it was certainly comforting, as we don’t forget how the whaling fleet never sleeps. While the reasons for this lack of sightings may vary, as the days went by, it seemed to become a bit clearer where some of the whales were hiding. As we sailed into the mouth of the Ross Sea, the southernmost sea on earth, numerous small spouts were appearing on the horizon, and some encounters started taking place. The sun was shining on a relatively warm morning, when a pod of fast minke whales joined us, and started what seemed like a race against our ship across the calm ocean. During the summer months, while the rest of baleen whales seem to prefer the periphery of the Ross Sea, Antarctic minke whales seem to have found paradise in one of the most remote oceans on the planet. Read More

Protesting the Taiji Dolphin Drives in Boston

By | Commercial whaling, feb14, Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd | No Comments

Taiji protest in Boston

Yesterday members of Ocean Alliance joined Sea Shepherd Boston for the World Love for Dolphins Day protest in front of the Japanese Consulate in Boston. The weather cleared long enough to shine some sun on the group with signs in the heart of Boston’s financial district. The protest coincided with demonstrations in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. organized by Sea Shepherd USA, along with a Valentines drive with children sending Valentines from around the country to the Japanese Embassy in D.C. Three Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians — Olga Pristin, Graziella Garri and Alex Shopov were in attendance to answer questions about their experiences on the ground in Taiji, Japan.

Ocean Alliance protesting dolphin slaughters in BostonThe reception of the demonstration in Boston was enthusiastic with lots of horns honking and thumbs up. A group of middle school and high school students cheered as they passed. Lots of Bostonians stopped to ask questions about the situation in Taiji, most had never heard of the dolphin drives and slaughter.

The season in Taiji lasts through the month of March and the Cove Guardians will be there until the end to witness and livestream on their website.

 

Ocean Alliance Joining World Love for Dolphins Day Protest February 14

By | Commercial whaling, Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd | No Comments

Dolphin ValentineOn Friday, February 14th Ocean Alliance will be joining Sea Shepherd Boston for World Love for Dolphins Day – a peaceful protest against the dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan. There will be protests held at the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. and in front of Japanese consulates around the country.  The protests will begin at 12 noon and conclude at 1:30 pm. To join us in Boston please meet with signs at:

Japanese Consulate General’s office:

Federal Reserve Plaza, 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston

Read More

Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr Is Asking You to Help End the Taiji Dolphin Hunt

By | Commercial whaling, Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd | No Comments

Iain Kerr with Atlantic Spotted Dolphins - Photo by Leonard AubeIt’s hard to express how deeply disturbing it is to see the act of barbarism that is going on in Taji, Japan right now. I consider quite a few Japanese people as close friends and I know that they abhor this hunt, so I don’t see this as a cultural act (the hunt started in 1969) but the act of a small group of individuals who have found a way to make a lot of money very quickly while hiding under a banner of culture.  Even if it was cultural this does not excuse all sins — cannibalism and slavery were once considered cultural, but as we have developed as a society we have realized these acts are unacceptable. Read More

MEET OUR SCIENCE LIAISON IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN – EVA HIDALGO

By | Commercial whaling, Ocean Alliance News, Pollution, Sea Shepherd Australia | No Comments

Eva HidalgoEva Hidalgo, Bosun’s Mate on the Sea Shepherd’s Steve Irwin, has dedicated her life to the conservation of whales and their environment. For this season’s  campaign in the Southern Ocean, Operation Relentless, not only is the Sea Shepherd fleet trying to thwart Japanese whalers, but they’re collecting invaluable data from an environment that is not easy to work in or even access. Read More

FORMER ODYSSEY CREW CONFRONT JAPANESE WHALERS

By | Commercial whaling, Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd Australia | No Comments

As I write this, commercial whaling (under the false premise of scientific whaling) is going on in Antarctic waters.  Roger Payne calls this, “as egregious a misuse of science—the field I love—as I have ever seen.” This year three RV Odyssey Operation Toxic Gulf crewmembers (our 2013 Gulf of Mexico campaign) are there to try and stop it. Hillary Watson, Eliza Muirhead and Erwin Vermeulen are on board the Sea Shepherd fleet as it confronts Japanese whalers. When these three came to the Odyssey to work last summer they were already veterans of Sea Shepherd’s campaigns around the world. Now they’ve left the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico for the harsh conditions of the Southern Ocean.

Front from left - Eliza Muirhead, Lauren Paap, Second row from left - Andy Rogan, Bob Wallace, Iain Kerr, Erwin Vermeulen, Hillary Watson, Camron Adibi

Front from left – Eliza Muirhead, Lauren Paap, Second row from left – Andy Rogan, Bob Wallace, Iain Kerr, Erwin Vermeulen, Hillary Watson, Camron Adibi

The news broke this week that the Sea Shepherd fleet – the Bob Barker, Steve Irwin and Sam Simon had found the Japanese whaling fleet, but not before they had harvested four minke whales, three of which were on the deck of the factory ship, and one that had evidently already been processed. As we are collaborating with the Sea Shepherd fleet collecting sightings and other data in Antarctica, Roger Payne has been in touch with Eliza Muirhead and identified the sex of the whales lying on the deck of the Japanese ship. From left to right in the photo they are male, female and the far right whale we think but cannot confirm is also female.  Males have two genital slits while females have one, in the case of Minke whales the females can grow to be a lot larger than the males, which is what suggest to us that the far right animal is female.Dead Minkes on Nisshun Maru - Photo by Sea Shepherd Australia

We will be thinking of the safety and well-being of our friends and everyone working in that hostile environment during this campaign.

DO WHALES COMPETE WITH HUMANS FOR FISH?

By | Commercial whaling, Odyssey, Sperm Whales, Voyage of the Odyssey, Whales | No Comments

In this log from the Voyage of the Odyssey Genevieve Johnson wrote about the attempt to pin the cause of dwindling fish stocks on whales.

Sperm whale - Photo by Chris Johnson

Sperm whale – Photo by Chris Johnson

Dr. Seiji Ohsumi, Director of the Cetacean Research Institute (ICR), Japan’s major institute for whale studies, co-authored a paper entitled Estimation of total food consumption by cetaceans in the world’s oceans. This often quoted “scientific” source received no peer review. (How do I know this? Because if it had, it would have been torn to pieces by other scientists.) Nonetheless, it’s used as the “scientific” rationale for a new diplomatic offensive Japan is mounting which attempts to make the world regard whales as greedy competitors to humans for fish from the sea. On November 17, 2000, Dr Ohsumi said that the need for Japan to carry out “scientific” whaling was because:

    “Until recently, the question of ‘what and how much whales are eating’ has not been taken up as a subject for discussion, but we find it now necessary to deal with the issue.”

This is spectacular nonsense (I think that’s the appropriate technical term). Read More