As fans of the hit Animal Planet television series Whale Wars (Friday night at 9:00 p.m.) know, the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is an area surrounding Antarctica in which all types of commercial whaling are banned. Despite this ban, in 2010, Japan sent a fleet of whaling vessels into the Southern Ocean with permits for the slaughter of 935 Minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales — all under the guise of “research”. The Japanese whaling fleet was quickly met by Captain Paul Watson and his fleet of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists. As the episodes are currently airing, I won’t spoil the outcome for you, but will share the story of another “Whale Wars” getting set to kick-off in the Channel Islands in just a few short days.
The 63rd meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will be from July 4 to 14 in the Channel Islands. The IWC was established following the creation of a 1946 international environmental agreement known as the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Signed in Washington DC by 15 nations, the objectives of the Convention are the protection of all whale species from overhunting, the establishment of a system of international regulation for the whale fisheries to ensure proper conservation and development of whale stocks, and safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by whale stocks. All of this work is conducted through the IWC. There are presently 89 member nations of the IWC. In 1986, the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling. Despite the ban, numerous loopholes within IWC regulations and enforcement allow for several nations to continue to hunt whales. Among them are Japan, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes Islands.
On the business agenda for the IWC in July are the establishment of a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic and a measure from Japan allowing for coastal catches of Minke whales to be used “exclusively for local consumption”. In anticipation of the meeting, delegates from eleven Latin American nations (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay) met on June 23 in Buenos Aires to sign an international agreement calling for a complete ban on commercial whaling and to support the creation of the South Atlantic whale sanctuary. This meeting follows a 2010 undercover sting operation in which the London Sunday Times paper documented efforts by the Japanese IWC delegation to buy “pro whaling” votes from other countries. The investigative report uncovered the use of cash bribes, vacations and even prostitution as a means to secure support for the Japanese whaling agenda.
Likewise, an international group of activists with the social media facebook group Save Misty the Dolphin have established a Countdown to the International Whaling Commission. The group has issued the following letter to the IWC Secretariat and is encouraging concerned citizens around the world to join in by submitting similar letters:
Dr. Simon Brockington
The International Whaling Commission
The Red House,
135 Station Road,
Cambridgeshire CB24 9NP, UK.
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 233 971
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 232 876
email: [email protected]
Dear Dr. Brockingon,
As the dates of the 63rd meeting of the International Whaling Commission approach, July 4-14, 2011, in the Channel Islands, we are writing to urge the IWC to take strong and decisive action to fully protect whales AND dolphins.
The slaughter of whales and dolphins for commercial, scientific or cultural purposes is inhumane and highly inconsistent with worldwide efforts to protect our planet’s oceans. Numerous reports have proven that whale meat is highly toxic with mercury. Furthermore, the March 11 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan resulted in radioactive water being dumped into the sea. According to a June 15 article published by the Associated Press, two Minke whales caught off of the coast of Japan were found to have traces of radioactive cesium. In the interest of public health, it is time to end the international consumption of whale and dolphin meat.
Following the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, the IWC has issued Japan, Norway and Iceland permits for scientific whaling. We strongly question the merits of this practice. Credible researchers around the world have managed to find ways to study whales without the use of lethal methodologies. Additionally, the fact that the whale meat from the alleged “research” is sold commercially further underscores the need to end research whaling. According to Darren Kindleysides of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, “Japan’s 20 years of “scientific whaling” has delivered thousands of dead whales and next to no useful knowledge of the whales they “study”. The meat is packaged and sold in the fish markets in Japan. This has more to do with sushi than science.”
Looking ahead to your upcoming meeting, we also note the questionable history of the government of Japan with regards to buying votes from international delegates to support the Japanese whaling agenda. The June 13, 2010 Sunday Times investigative article, “Flights, girls and cash buy Japan Whaling votes” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7149086.ece uncovered a wealth of improprieties conducted by representatives of the Japanese delegation. We request that investigations be undertaken and that appropriate and harsh sanctions be levied against the guilty parties. Such behavior simply should NOT be allowed within the confines of an international regulatory body.
Having observed the annual Taiji dolphin drive hunt from September 1, 2010 to the close of the season in March 2011, we furthermore call on the IWC to afford much needed protections to dolphins. The drive fishery method employed by the Taiji Fisheries Union is among the most cruel practices known to mankind. Like whales, dolphins are intelligent beings. They live in pods and nurse their young. We have witnessed pods of dolphins herded into the cove and then slowly and painfully slaughtered over the course of many hours. Calves swim in the blood of their mothers and fathers. This nightmare simply must end.
Save Misty the Dolphin calls on the members of the 63rd International Whaling Commission to fully PROTECT all whales and dolphins. The time to END whaling and dolphin hunting on planet Earth is NOW.
For more on how you can follow the events surrounding the 63rd IWC meeting go to Save Misty the Dolphin on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Savemistythedolphin or visit their blog at http://savemistythedolphin.blogspot.com