tagged w/ Minke Whales
Blood Money: Tsunami Recovery Funds Go to Japan’s Whaling Industry
By Krista Mahr | December 12, 2011
Sankei / Getty Images
Japan's research whaling fleet Nissin Maru returns its home at Oi Pier on April 12, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan.
They’re baaaaaaaccck. Whale hunting season kicked off in Japan last week as three ships set off with a security vessel on their annual pilgrimage to cull hundreds of minke and fin whales in Antarctic waters. And so begins the annual showdown between the whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the tenacious, publicity-savvy anti-whaling group that chases the Japanese fleet around the frigid waters of the sixth continent each winter. The yearly spectacle features scuba-clad activists zipping around in fast boats, lobbing stink bombs at the whaling ships and generally making life miserable for the crew who keep Japan’s 19th-century dream alive. The annual tussle even has its own reality show.
Whaling is not an easy practice to defend these days, particularly when recent polls have shown that 95% of Japanese eat whale meat rarely, if at all. The state-backed industry, which Japan considers its sovereign right to pursue as part of a centuries-old tradition, is under attack both by environmental groups at home and abroad. And yet the government did not do its beleaguered case any favors when it confirmed last week that $29 million of the national post-tsunami recovery fund had been allotted to the whaling industry, including to provide extra security for the whaling fleet.
They had to know that wasn’t going to go down well. Environmental groups in Japan are outraged that the disaster fund is being used to prop up an industry they have been fighting against for years. Though commercial whaling has been banned for decades, Japan is one of a handful of nations that continue their catch with the permission of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for scientific purposes, culling about 1000 whales annually. “Pouring billions of yen into Antarctic whaling during this time of crisis is downright shameful,” Junichi Sato, head of Greenpeace Japan, told the Guardian last week. “Japan cannot afford to waste money on whaling in the Antarctic when its people are suffering at home.”
Tokyo says the whaling industry needs the support of the fund to get back on its feet after March 11 just like other fishing communities on the devastated northeastern coast of Japan. Port towns like Ayukawa that were built on the back of the multi-million dollar whaling industry were destroyed along with so much else, and, like their neighbors, residents there want to get their businesses back up and running, too. “Many people in the area eat whale meat,” an official from Japan’s Fisheries Agency told CNN. “They are waiting for Japan’s commercial whaling to resume and it is their hope for recovery.”
But padding the industry with reconstruction money is not the end of Japan’s efforts to protect its scientific endeavors. Last year, the government caved in to the pressure Sea Shepherd exerted on its ships and crew and called off the hunt early, with only about one-fifth of its intended catch. On Dec. 9, the Institute of Cetacean Research, the government body that manages the yearly cull, announced that it filed a lawsuit along with shipowner Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha against Sea Shepherd and its founder, Paul Watson. ICR and Kyodo Senpaku are seeking a court order to prevent “SSCS and its founder Paul Watson from engaging in activities at sea that could cause injuries to the crews and damage to the vessels.”
Watson, whose organization is based in the U.S. state of Washington, responded immediately to the news of the law suit. “We have not caused a single injury nor have we been charged with a crime or even reprimanded by anyone for our actions,” he is quoted as saying on the organization’s web site. “This is simply a case of using the courts to harass us. I don’t believe they have a case and I doubt a U.S. court would take this seriously. Unlike Japan, the courts in the United States don’t automatically do what the government demands that they do.” The organization is currently planning to send 88 crew members on three ships to do its yearly battle under the banner of “Operation Divine Wind.”
Krista Mahr is a correspondent at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kristamahr. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/12/12/blood-money-tsunami-recovery-funds-go-to-japans-whaling-industry/#ixzz1gOb4SqJ7
Blood Money: Tsunami Recovery Funds Go to Japan’s... more
1,100+ Whales To Die!
Blogpost by John Hocevar - December 8, 2010 at 9:56
As you read this..., the Japanese whaling fleet is steaming towards the Southern Ocean to begin their annual whale slaughter. Their planned death "quota" this season: nearly 1,000 minke whales, 50 humpback whales, and 50 endangered fin whales.
We must stop this massacre now.
During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama said, "As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including the international moratorium on commercial whaling." Three more whaling seasons have come and gone since Obama spoke those words, and no change has been made.
Please rush your most generous contribution as we put pressure on President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise!
"Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable," as President Obama himself has stated, and Greenpeace is rallying support to put a stop to the slaughter, once and for all.
Commercial whaling is not only unacceptable—it's a violation of international law.
Picture a Japanese harpoon ship speeding through the Southern Ocean. Suddenly, the harpooner spots a mother whale and her calf. The sounds of the ocean are drowned out by the blasts of exploding-tip harpoons being fired at the whales.
The pair struggles to free themselves from the harpoon lines for nearly an hour, desperately thrashing their tails in the water, before a gunman finally steps onto the deck and shoots them dead. The mother whale and her baby are dragged up the ship’s slipway, leaving a long trail of blood behind them.
Much to our frustration, in a few days time this tragic scene will play out in the Southern Ocean over and over again. Greenpeace needs your help, and the help of President Obama, to put an end to the slaughter of our oceans’ most unique, intelligent, and emotional creatures.
Please help us stop this terrible massacre and save the lives of these whales with your most generous donation NOW.
Together, we can let Japan know that commercial whaling has no place in the 21st Century.1,100+ Whales To Die!
Blogpost by John Hocevar - December 8, 2010 at 9:56... more
Japan launched a summer whaling mission Wednesday, with the target of killing 260 of the giant sea mammals in the Northwest Pacific waters despite legal action by Australia.
Three harpoon and two research ships set sail from three separate ports in Japan with more than 200 crew to hunt whales in the Pacific waters, said the Institute of Cetacean Research, which sends the state-backed whaling fleet.
In the latest whaling trip, the fleet led by the Nisshin Maru mother ship plans to catch 100 minke whales, 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde's whales and 10 sperm whales before returning in late August, the operator said.
The expedition comes after Australia launched legal action with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an effort to stop Japan killing hundreds of whales a year in the name of science.
The International Whaling Commission, seeking to end decades of bitter conflict between its pro- and anti-whaling members, is set to begin talks in two weeks in Morocco.Japan launched a summer whaling mission Wednesday, with the target of killing 260 of... more
Australia said Friday it will challenge Japan's whale hunting in the Antarctic at the International Court of Justice, a major legal escalation in its campaign to ban the practice despite Tokyo's insistence on the right to so-called scientific whaling.
Japan's Foreign Ministry called the action regrettable at a time when 88 member-nations of the International Whaling Commission were discussing a proposal that could allow some limited whaling for the first time in 25 years.
"We will continue to explain that the scientific whaling that we are conducting is lawful in accordance with Article 8 of the international convention for the regulation of whaling," said Japan's Foreign Ministry Deputy Press Secretary Hidenobu Sobashima. "If it goes to the court, we are prepared to explain that."
Japan, Norway and Iceland, which harpoon around 2,000 whales annually, argue that many species are abundant enough to continue hunting them. They are backed by around half of the whaling commission's members.
Australia has declared the southern seas a whale sanctuary and has long lobbied for an end to whaling there. The government says Japan's hunt is in breach of international obligations, but has declined to release any details of how it will argue its case before the court in The Hague.
The whaling commission has proposed a plan that would allow hunting without specifying whether it is for commercial or other purposes – but under strict quotas that are lower than the current number of hunted whales.
Commission Chairman Cristian Maquieira expressed optimism Thursday in Washington that the issue could be resolved at a meeting next month in Morocco. But senior U.S. official Monica Medina said the current proposal would allow the hunting of too many whales, signaling difficult negotiations ahead.
Australia could argue that Japan is abusing its rights under the whaling commission's 1946 Convention, which allows scientific whaling, said Don Anton, an international law professor at The Australian National University in Canberra. It could claim that the number of whales Japan kills each year is far more than necessary, that nonlethal research alternatives exist and that there is a commercial aspect to the scientific program.
Australia could also argue that Japan has failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact assessment before engaging in whaling, Anton said.
Story continues below
A panel of lawyers and conservationists reported to the Australian and New Zealand governments last year that Japanese whaling in the Antarctic could be stopped if Japan were held accountable for dumping waste and for undertaking hazardous refueling at sea. The Canberra Panel claims that activity violates the 46-member Antarctic Treaty System, to which Japan belongs.
Australia will lodge its claim with the court next week. It is likely then to seek an international injunction to stop any Japanese whaling during the 2010-2011 whaling season, said Don Rothwell, an international law professor at ANU who chaired the Canberra Panel. An injunction ruling could take three to six months, and it could be another four to seven years before the case is settled, he said.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his government will decide within weeks whether it will also file a case against Japan.
Sobashima and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the dispute should not jeopardize the countries' overall good relations, with both governments treating the matter as an independent legal arbitration.
Australia's move also fulfills a 2007 campaign promise by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's center-left Labor Party.
Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Malcolm J. Foster in Tokyo contributed to this report.Australia said Friday it will challenge Japan's whale hunting in the Antarctic at... more
Whales are a symbol of world environmentalism. They were brought to near extinction by the indiscriminate hunting of 1800 and 1900, banned in 1986 with a moratorium respected by almost every country in the world, except Iceland, Norway and Japan. The latter country in particular has often been criticized by environmentalists because it is the world's largest market for whale meat.
http://www.inaltreparole.net/en/nature/balenegiappone180210.htmlWhales are a symbol of world environmentalism. They were brought to near extinction by... more
Japan said Monday it has caught 59 whales — one short of the maximum allowed by international guidelines — under a research program that critics say is a cover for commercial whaling.
The annual expedition off the port city of Kushiro ended over the weekend after harvesting 59 minke whales, the Fisheries Agency said in a statement. A maximum of 60 is allowed under the research program authorized by the International Whaling Commission.
Japan and other pro-whaling nations have been pushing for the IWC to revoke the 1986 ban on commercial hunts amid arguments over the number of whales left in the world's oceans.
Japan also annually hunts about 1,000 whales in the Antarctic Ocean and the northwest Pacific Ocean under an IWC research program.
Critics say the expeditions are a cover for commercial whaling because the harvest is sold to market for consumption.
As in previous years, the Fisheries Agency said the hunt off Hokkaido was aimed at studying the whales' feeding patterns and their effect on fish stocks. Findings will be presented at next year's meeting of the IWC.
During the 12-day expedition, whalers caught 36 male whales and 23 females, the agency said. Examination of their stomach contents found that the minkes most commonly fed on pollack, krill and anchovy in the research area, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the coast of Kushiro in the Pacific Ocean, it said.
Kushiro is 895 kilometers (556 miles) northeast of Tokyo.Japan said Monday it has caught 59 whales — one short of the maximum allowed by... more
Iceland's whaling season began on Tuesday in defiance of protests from animal rights group that have called for an end to the practice and after international calls for it to reduce whaling quotas.
Iceland, one of two countries worldwide that still authorises commercial whaling, has set a maximum quota of 100 minke whales that can be killed during the whaling season, which usually runs from May to late September.
The first whales are usually killed in a bay just outside of Reykjavik as whaling is banned close to the harbour. The restrictions are to protect the whale watching businesses, which are popular with tourists.
"The first batch of meat will be in stores by the weekend," Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson, manager of the minke whaler association, told AFP.
He said 50 to 60 percent of the meat will be sold domestically, while the rest is sold to Japan.
Meanwhile, the International Fund for Animal Welfare led calls for the country to call off the hunting season by handing in a letter of protest at the Icelandic embassy in London.
Former fisheries minister Steingrimur Sigfusson said in February Iceland would make no changes to its whaling quotas of 150 fin whales and up to 150 minke whales per year, despite international calls for it to reconsider.
Prior to Sigfusson's announcement, Iceland, which pulled out of an international whaling moratorium in 2006 after 16 years, had a quota of just nine fin whales and 40 minke whales per year.
Iceland and Norway are the only two countries in the world that authorise commercial whaling. Japan officially hunts whales for scientific purposes, which are contested by opponents, and the whale meat is sold for consumption.Iceland's whaling season began on Tuesday in defiance of protests from animal... more
The Japanese Fisheries Agency said Friday that a fleet of four whaling vessels will set sail to catch up to 216 whales in the northwestern Pacific for scientific research purposes. The fleet plans to catch 100 minke whales, 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales, the agency said.
The next IWC meeting is coming up next month and it looks like the Japan will continue to hunt whales around the world in spite of the small and declining demand for whale meat.The Japanese Fisheries Agency said Friday that a fleet of four whaling vessels will... more
Japan's whaling catch in its latest Antarctic hunt fell far short of its target after disruptions by anti-whaling activists, the Fisheries Agency said on Monday.
Japan, which considers whaling to be a cherished cultural tradition, killed 679 minke whales despite plans to catch around 850. It caught just one fin whale compared with a target of 50 in the hunt that began in November.
Some ships in its six-ship fleet have returned home after clashes with the hardline group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, including a collision that crushed a railing on one of the Japanese ships.
A Fisheries Agency official said ships could not carry out whaling for a total of 16 days because of bad weather and skirmishes with the activists.Japan's whaling catch in its latest Antarctic hunt fell far short of its target... more
The main ship in Japan's whaling fleet set out for the Antarctic on Monday for its first hunt in the region since limping home with just over half its planned catch in April following clashes with militant anti-whaling activists, environmentalist group Greenpeace said.
The Nisshin Maru set out from Innoshima in western Japan, Greenpeace said, part of a plan to take about 850 minke whales and 50 fin whales. Last year six ships took part in the hunt.
The vessel's movements will be followed by a ship belonging to Sea Shepherd, an anti-whaling group that skirmished repeatedly with the fleet at sea last year in an attempt to halt the hunt.
Earlier on Monday, Australia urged Japan to abandon its yearly hunt, launching its own scientific whaling study in the Southern Ocean to prove it was not necessary to kill the ocean mammals to study them.
"Modern-day research uses genetic and molecular techniques as well as satellite tags, acoustic methods and aerial surveys rather than grenade-tipped harpoons," Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett told reporters in Canberra.
"Australia does not believe that we need to kill whales to understand them," Garrett said.The main ship in Japan's whaling fleet set out for the Antarctic on Monday for... more
A new study by Japan's national whale-research program is drawing sharp rebuke from scientists and conservationists who say the results did not necessitate killing more than 4,000 whales.
Critics have long accused Japan of using its scientific whaling program to circumvent a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
In the new research, Kenji Konishi of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research and his colleagues analyzed data from 4,704 Antarctic minke whales killed by the Japanese Whale Research Program (JARPA) from 1987 to 2005.
They concluded that the thickness of the whales' blubber decreased by 3.6 millimeters (0.14 inch), or about 9 percent, during the 18-year period.
Konishi said killing the whales was the only way to ensure the measurements of the blubber's thickness were consistent across the different specimens.
"These data could only be obtained using lethal research," Konishi told National Geographic News.
Previous studies using biopsy samples, which are taken from living whales, have not obtained "total fat contents and thus energy content" of the animals' blubber, Konishi added.
Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, was not involved in the study.
Baker said biopsies and other nonlethal methods such as genetic and photographic identification would have been adequate for gauging the health of the whales and their food availability.
Baker called JARPA's methods of killing the whales—which included exploding harpoons and large-caliber rifles in case death was not instantaneous—"crude" and ultimately unnecessary.
Baker also questioned the biological significance of the blubber reduction reported by the Japanese team.
Doubts about the scientific usefulness of the study were echoed by Stephen Palumbi, a marine ecologist at Stanford University.
"All their analysis can show is that minke whales might be getting slightly thinner," Palumbi said. "Is it biologically meaningful? It's not clear."
A joint statement issued by Greenpeace and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the study's findings contradict previous JARPA research that suggested minke whales were benefiting from a krill surplus created by the elimination of other large whales by human hunting.
"Japan can't have it both ways," the statement reads. "The minkes can't be reaching maturity faster because they are feasting on surplus krill while at the same time losing weight."
IFAW program manager Beth Allgood expressed concern that the new study could be used to vindicate Japan's scientific whaling program at a planned meeting of the IWC later this month.
A new study by Japan's national whale-research program is drawing sharp rebuke... more
Data from Japan's widely condemned scientific whaling programme suggests a loss of fat over the past 20 years may be due to climate change, but some claim the research is unethical.
Over two decades, Japanese ships have butchered thousands of whales taken from the icy waters around the Antarctic in the name of research. Campaigners and politicians condemn the practice as unethical and unnecessary, and say Japan's "scientific" whaling programme is commercial whaling by another name.
Now, Japan's scientists claim their controversial whaling programme has produced a key finding. Measurements taken from more than 4,500 minke whales slaughtered since the late 1980s reveal the animals have lost significant amounts of blubber, and are getting thinner at a worrying speed. The team says its study offers the first evidence that global warming could be harming whales, because it restricts their food supplies. And they say the discovery could only have been made by killing the animals.
Crucially for the Japanese, the results have been published in a mainstream western scientific journal – a move that has dismayed campaigners, who say it could offer scientific whaling a veneer of respectability, and bolster Japan's efforts to hunt more whales.
They fear Japan could use the results to support efforts to hunt endangered humpback whales for the first time in 50 years. The study claims the recovering humpback population in the Southern Ocean could also be hurting the minkes because of "interference" between the two species as they compete for food.
Lars Walloe, a Norwegian whale expert at the University of Oslo, who helped the Japanese team analyse the data, and is listed as an author on the new study, said: "This is a big change in blubber and if it continues it could make it more difficult for the whales to survive. It indicates there have been some big changes in their ecosystem."
Whales rely on their thick layer of blubber for energy and as insulation against the cold water. The shift could already being making it more difficult for them to reproduce, Walloe said. "I don't think you could measure this by other [non lethal] means." Alternative methods to sample blubber, such as ultrasound and biopsy darts, have been developed. But Walloe said it was not practical to use them on the required scale with minke whales, which are also difficult to approach.
Walloe said the decline in blubber was down to shrinking numbers of Antarctic krill, a shrimp-like crustacean at the heart of the food chain. The amount of blubber lost is roughly equivalent to 36 fewer days of intensive summer feeding.
Krill numbers in the water around the rapidly-warming Antarctic peninsula have collapsed by about 80% since the 1970s. This is blamed on the loss of sea ice, which provide shelter and food for krill.
Data from Japan's widely condemned scientific whaling programme suggests a loss... more
So, are they just going to kill them later? And in the meantime they will kill 935 minke whales, and 50 fin whales, they are smaller and more plentiful.
All better now!
So, are they just going to kill them later? And in the meantime they will kill 935... more