Articles Posted in the Conservation category

Whale warriors head back to shore

February 9, 2009
Posted in Conservation


After some high drama in the Southern Ocean, the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel Steve Irwin and her crew yesterday withdrew from the Japanese whaling fleet and started the return trip to Australia after attempting to obstruct the fleet’s operations for more than a month and save the lives of many whales, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society reports on its website.

Confrontations between the Steve Irwin and the whaling fleet have resulted in numerous close calls and two collisions, says the Sea Shepherd society. The most recent on Friday drew international media attention, when Tokyo accused the crew of the protest ship of violence when it collided with a harpoon ship Yushin Maru 2 in an attempt to block the transfer of a dead whale up the slipway of the abattoir ship Nisshin Maru.

The protesters said that the whaling fleet had used long-range acoustical devices (LRADs) and high-powered water cannons against them, as well as throwing golf balls and chunks of metal. The Japanese claimed that the protesters had hurled bottles of acid at their ship. But the Sea Shepherd said that it was in fact rotten butter.

Japan officially stopped whaling under a 1986 global moratorium, but because of a loophole it is able to hunt whales for research purposes.

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research describes the Sea Shepherd Society as a “self-righteous terrorist group” and has accused it of illegal harassment and terrorism against the ICR’s research.

Captain Paul Watson said in a statement announcing the end of this year’s Sea Shepherd campaign: “I have always said that we would do everything we can short of hurting people to end illegal whaling in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.”

“We have done everything we could with the resources available to us this year. We have shut down their illegal operations for over a month in total. We have cost them money and we have saved the lives of a good many whales. And although we are willing to take the risks required, even to our own lives, I am not prepared to do to the Japanese whalers what they do to the whales and the escalating violence by the whalers will result in some serious injuries and possibly fatalities if this confrontation continues to escalate.”

Japan’s whaling fleet is in Antarctic waters for an annual hunt aimed at catching about 900 whales, Reuters reports.

The Steve Irwin started off in hot pursuit on December 18, following the fleet for more than 3,000km until January 7. It then relocated the fleet on February 1 and since then the whalers had been able to kill only five of the ocean mammals, the Sea Shepherd Society said. “Normally during this period they would be taking 8 to 10 whales per day.”

Captain Watson said that he has been operating at a disadvantage against three harpoon boats that are superior in speed and manoeuvrability to the Steve Irwin. He says he intends to return next year with a ship that is as fast as they are.

“We will never stop intervening against their illegal whaling operations and we will never stop harassing them, blockading them and costing them money. I intend to be their on-going nightmare every year until they stop their horrific and unlawful slaughter of the great whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” he said.

Sea Shepherd says it has over 1,000 hours of video footage taken during this campaign which will be used in a series on Animal Planet called Whale Wars. “People can watch and judge for themselves,” the society says on its website.

For an interesting interview with Paul Watson see Mother Jones.

Archbishop Tutu is saving the whales

November 28, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Picture: © IFAW, T. Samson

‘This [campaign against the killing of whales] warns us that we are slowly ourselves committing a kind of suicide. If it is not a physical suicide, it is a moral and ethical suicide. For our own sakes we need to recover our humaneness, and our humanity. It is time to say no, no, no! to the killing of whales’ – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South Africa’s much-loved Archbishop Desmond Tutu, well-known internationally for speaking out against apartheid, is adding his voice to the anti-whaling campaign.

Yesterday, he launched the Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling initiative at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town by unveiling a 3,4-metre high sculpture named Sacred Ocean by renowned cetacean artist and conservationist Noel Ashton.

The sculpture has been given pride of place in the foyer of Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium.

The installation also features a touch-screen where visitors can register their opinions on whaling and send a “virtual postcard” of themselves and the sculpture to three friends. Tutu cast the first vote via the touch-screen yesterday.

Dr Patrick Garratt, managing director of the Two Oceans Aquarium, said: “The exhibit provides a unique platform for us to gauge public sentiment on the practice of whaling. For the first time ever, people from across the globe will be able to vote for or against whaling and communicate their opinion to the decision-makers.”

Sacred Ocean is a campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Jason Bell-Leask, the Southern African director for IFAW, said: “As we launch Sacred Ocean to celebrate and save whales, we do so knowing the whaling fleets have already set sail for the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to hunt and kill more than 1,000 whales – some of them endangered species – in a sham called ‘scientific whaling’.

“We believe that IFAW’s Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling will send a powerful message that ordinary, and not so ordinary people, are against the appalling and unnecessary cruelty of whaling.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium, is one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions and annually welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world. If you’re going to be visiting the V&A Waterfront, pop in to the aquarium and register your vote.

The campaign also has its own website.

Whales not having a whale of a time

June 23, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Despite 20 years of “moratorium” on whale hunting, the populations of these animals aren’t showing significant signs of recovery, say scientists in an AFP report.

This fact will be contested by whaling nations such as Japan, Norway and Iceland at the International Whaling Commission in Chile this week. But scientists say that it would need decades of uninterrupted growth for whale populations to return to their original numbers – even those species who appear to be thriving may not be out of danger, they say.

Besides commercial hunting, whales have to contend with other dangers posed by sharing the oceans with people: they are struck by their vessels, become entangled in fishing nets, are poisoned by pollution, their habitats are destroyed and bombarded with noise. Add to this the effects of climate change, one of which is the potential acidification of the oceans which could sharply reduce the number of krill on which whales feed, and these giant mammals are in for a hard time.

We humans really need to be less greedy and learn to share the planet with other species instead of looking at everything as potential resources that are only of value if we have a use for them.

Via :: Terra Daily