Archive for Whaling
www.themercury.com.au 10th March 2013
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have yet again forced the Japanese whaling fleet to fall well short of their maximum quota for whale carcasses. The fleet recently returned to port with 75 whales on board compared to the 800+ it could have culled. Despite the Australian government lodging a complaint at the International Court of Justice about Japan’s continued whaling programme, citing the country’s failure to uphold its international obligations, Japan continues to hunt whales. Sea Shepherd’s fleet has grown recently and now consists of four ships. This has allowed the conservation group to be more direct in their protests. However, growing aggression has led to claims of violence and harassment on both sides. In 2010, one of Sea Shepherd’s boats, The Ady Gil (formerly of Earth Race), was almost sunk by a Japanese whaling ship.
www.bbc.co.uk 14th July 2011
The final day of the 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Jersey came close to chaos as pro-whaling countries walked out. Japan, Iceland, and several others left the room when 14 Latin American countries, known as the Buenos Aires Bloc, tried to force a vote on the creation of a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic. The latest drama to hit the IWC brought criticism from environmental groups who have claimed that issues of whale conservation were neglected. A compromise was finally made with delegates told to come to some sort of agreement over the coming year, or the next IWC annual meeting will begin with a vote on the South Atlantic whale sanctuary. When asked about the walkout, Japan’s deputy commissioner Joji Morishita said
“this was not a hostile move to the Latin American countries – our effort is to try to save this organisation, and it turned out ok.” This year’s meeting did have some good news however with France, Italy, and some non-governmental organisations pledging £80,000 for the research of small cetaceans such as the critically endangered Mexican vaquita.
www.guardian.co.uk 18th February 2011
In a surprising move, the Japanese government has recalled its whaling fleet in the Antarctic following confrontation with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The fleet was meant to stay out until the middle of March but the Japanese agriculture minister, Michihiko Kano, stated that the ships would be returning home ”to ensure the safety of lives, assets and our ships.” Sea Shepherd has made the annual voyage to the Antarctic with a selection of boats with which to harass the whaling fleet. Last year, one of the organisation’s boats, the Ady Gil, was rammed by one of the whaling boats but nobody was hurt. This year, increased resources allowed the conservationists to use a helicopter as well. Although the Japanese government has condemned Sea Shepherd as a terrorist organisation, the whaling industry in the country is not fairing well. Accusations of routine corruption and international pressure, combined with a lack of consumer interest (whale meat is sold on the open market despite the authorities claiming the whales are killed for scientific reasons), has battered the industry. Australia, one of the leading critics of Japan’s whaling practices, has welcomed the early return of the fleet. In 2010, it submitted a formal complaint with the International Court of Justice in the Hague to get the hunts banned. A decision is expected in 2013.
Two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists have been jailed in Japan today after being found guilty of theft and trespassing. Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were arrested following attempts to expose embezzlement in Japan’s whaling industry. The two intercepted a 23kg box of whale meat, worth around £460, at a delivery depot in the city of Aomori in 2008. The meat was part of a larger amount that is routinely taken from whaling ships by their crew and sold for personal gain. The Institute of Cetacean Research, which organises the hunts, claim that the crew are allowed to take home meat as gifts for their families. Rather than pursuing the case put forward by the Tokyo Two, it was dropped in favour of arresting the activists. They were detained without charge for 23 days and interrogated while being strapped to chairs. There sentence was one year in prison suspended for three years.
Around 950 whales are slaughtered each year by Japanese whaling fleets in the name of scientific research.
Every year the people of the Danish owned Faroe Islands, between Scotland and Iceland, hold a festival where numerous Pilot Whales are killed for their meat and blubber. The islands, whose attempt to break away from Denmark was quashed in 2000, have attracted international attention due to the unconventional way in which the whales are culled. However, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, known predominantly for their escapades against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic, has joined forces with the Bridget Bardot Foundation to “expose the slaughter and defend the pilot whales from the vicious and lethal assaults by the Faroese”. In fact, conservationists have turned their back on the ritual in recent years due to the integral part it plays in Faroese culture and because the Faroese themselves do not participate in commercial whaling. The Faroe Islands website insist that “the Faroese whale drive has over the years successfully adapted to modern standards of resource management and animal welfare. For the Faroe Islands – an island nation overwhelmingly dependent on what the sea can provide - the conservation and management of all living marine resources, including marine mammals is of vital importance.” The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claim that the massacre is a violation of the Berne Convention of which Denmark is a signatory.
The undercover ship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is currently being escorted by the Danish navy.