Recent press reports appeared at first glance to indicate that Japan was considering suspending it Antarctic whaling operations.
The initial euphoria felt by many members of the public proved ill founded when it was revealed that Japan was simply preparing to refurbish its factory whaling ship, the Nissan Maru. The Japanese government has now indicated that this refurbishment will lead to at least another 10 years more whaling.
It would appear that Japan has spent around ¥900 million (approximately €5.7 million) annually since 1988 on subsidizing waiting, so in many ways it should come as no surprise that Japan’s whaling interests have their eyes on the long term goal of a fully sanctioned resumption of commercial whaling.
Japanese whaling interests’ hopes lie either in a compromise deal at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), or a break away by the Japanese government to form a new whaling commission with only pro-whaling interests allowed to participate. Japan regularly threatens to walk out of the IWC but it appears that international presige and its position in the international community acts as a break on such a reckless act.
However, the risk of a compromise is never far away. There have been three attempts at reaching a so-called compromise deal within the IWC since 1997. The first attempt was initiated when the then Irish commissioner, Mr Michael Canney, sought to ‘break the stalemate’ in 1997. In what was to become known as the ‘Irish proposal’ and with oft repeated rhetoric that the ‘IWC was about to break up’, some commissioners at the IWC sought to push through a new form of commercial whaling known as coastal whaling. This would have restricted Japan’s so-called ‘scientific whaling, but would have overturned the moratorium on commercial whaling once-and-for-all.
Again in 2004 Henrik Fisher, the then chair of the IWC, attempted to seek a similar compromise. A concerted effort, supported by the US Government, was taken forward by Bill Hogarth, chair of the IWC between 2005 and 2009, but again, floundered in 2010.
All these proposals failed both because they would have led to the resumption of commercial whaling, and also, because the whalers felt that their continued pressure at the IWC would actually deliver them everything they wanted without having to compromise.
Indeed, the very regularity of the repeated attempts to promote a compromise has become a source of encouragement to the commercial whaling interests. The IWC is populated with new Commissioners every few years, many of whom have no memory of the recent past, and some of whom rush to ‘solve’ what they see as a problem only they can ‘manage’. Each attempt has led to more compromises being proposed from the conservation-led side. The last proposal even considered allowing the hunting of fin and sei whales as well as minke whales. It would have also allowed whaling for at least 10 years before review.
So no wonder that the pro-whaling industrial complex feels that all it needs to do is keep banging away at the IWC, eroding its foundations and seeking to compromise its ability to carry out any conservation action.
The pro-whalers have also sought to encourage aboriginal subsistence waiting to engage in more commercial activities. The most enthusiastic of the ASW hunters have been those in Greenland. Their strategy has been to blur the divisions between ASW and commercial whaling, so making it easier to Japan and her allies to complain that ‘their whaling is no different to that sanctioned already by the IWC’.
It is remarkable is that this all comes at the same time the consumption of whalemeat in Japan and the other countries has continued to rapidly diminish.
The Japanese Dolphin and Whale Action Network (IKAN) has carried out research which shows that Japanese people eat on average only 23.7 g a year of whalemeat, about the same weight as a chocolate bar.
But, despite these facts, the pro-whaling interests still have a tight grip on the decision-making process within Japan, Norway and Iceland.
Japan and her allies appear to be in for the long-haul in this debate. Pro-conservation countries need to also look to the long-game and not seek to falter by pursuing any compromise deal that will simply bring sucour to the pro-whaling interests and encourage them even more. Now is the time to hold fast, to protect the remaining whales, and seek a better future for all us, human and whale-kind alike.
Recent press reports appeared at first glance to indicate that Japan was considering suspending it Antarctic whaling operations.
It seems the sad litany of injuries to orcas continues at Sea World. Nakai appears to have suffered a serious injury in an incident at Sea World California.
Nakai was born in captivity in September 2001.
I am afraid I would be more concerned than Sea World seem to be. The injury is deep and significant. Unfortunately you can also see that Nakai's teeth are very worn, which would be unusual in a wild free orca.
These teeth are typical of captive orcas that have been grinding their teeth on bars and concrete in their tanks.
The cause of the wound is more difficult to assess. According to Sea World the injusry happened when "when he came into contact with a portion of the pool on Sept. 20".
We regularly see problems with captivity for orca, but I have to say that this is one of the most traumatic set of images we have seen for a while.
Please don't frequent Sea World, you are only perpetuating this kind of suffering if you do. You can read more about this incident at the WDCS North American site
As some of you know we are about to move to a new website. We believe that its going to be easier to find the information you want and we hope that its going to be much easier to follow what WDCS is doing on any one campaign.
With that in mind I thought I would publish a copy of the letter we have just sent to the Japanese Embassy in the UK. Its similar to letters we are sending to other embassies around the world, but we thought you may want to see what we are saying and maybe you would like to do something similar. Of course letters alone can not solve this issue, but we know that the various embassies do note the number of letters they get and what is being said.
When they don't get anything, they tend to assume the issue is no longer of concern. So if you get a chance, please let Japan know how you feel.
And as to what you feel, well, I hope like us, you feel that this is an unnecessary and extremely cruel practice. I am pretty tired of the Japanese whalers rhetoric and personally would say that they cannot continue hide behind statements about 'tradition' and 'culture' and, Japan, as part of the global commons, can no longer pretend that whales and dolphins are not like other animals and therefore are to be treated as nothing but 'unfeeling property'. Time for Japan to change, and sooner rather than later.
Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi
Embassy of Japan
London W1J 7JT
via E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
August 29, 2012
Dear Ambassador Hayashi:
I write on behalf of WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, to express our opposition to the dolphin drive hunts that occur annually in the town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture. WDCS will be among those protesting in front of the Embassy on Friday, August 31st because of the ongoing slaughter of dolphins, small whales and porpoises by Japanese fishermen. Similar demonstrations are taking place outside Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in protest of these cruel and unsustainable hunts.
Dolphin drive hunts, also known as “drive fisheries,” occur annually from September through April in the coastal towns of Taiji and Futo. During these hunts, dolphins are encircled by motorboats out at sea and chased into shallow coastal waters where they are trapped with nets. The dolphins are then killed or trapped alive to be sold into captivity. Every aspect of this hunt is extremely cruel: from the exhausting drive from the open ocean that can separate family groups, to confinement in a netted cove where the dolphins are crudely slaughtered. Whether they are killed for their meat, or because they are considered pests in competition for fishery resources, these highly sentient mammals face severe distress, suffering and pain. The dolphins selected alive for sale to aquaria are subjected to an impoverished life in captivity. Many die of stress and injury during, and immediately after, capture and transport to these facilities in Japan and overseas.
More than 2,000 dolphins and small whales may be killed annually in Japan’s drive hunts, including bottlenose, Risso’s, striped and spotted dolphins, and pilot and false killer whales. Up to 20,000 small whales and dolphins may be taken in other hunts along the coastline of Japan, including more than 17,000 Dall’s porpoises taken in northern Hokkaido.
Despite these hunts being the subject of the award-winning documentary, The Cove, which has brought worldwide condemnation of these activities, many Japanese people are unaware that these hunts occur in their country. Additionally, despite growing evidence that the dolphin meat from these hunts is heavily tainted with dangerous levels of mercury and poses a potential threat to human health, the contaminated meat is sold in Japanese supermarkets.
As you are aware, whale and dolphin watching is steadily growing in Japan, along with a growing respect and care for marine life. Wildlife watching is not only a popular activity for locals and tourists alike, but is also a financially viable alternative to killing or capturing dolphins for entertainment. Drive hunts are a direct threat to the valuable whale and dolphin watching industry.
WDCS strongly opposes these drive hunts on both welfare and conservation grounds. We urge you to act now and to heed the voices of the global community opposed to the unsustainable slaughter of entire families and communities of whales and dolphins. Please end the dolphin drive hunts now.
Courtney S. Vail
Campaigns and Programs Manager
William M Johnson’s critically-acclaimed 'The Rose-Tinted Menagerie' has been republished as an illustrated Amazon Kindle ebook
One of the most influential anti-captivity books of the last Century, and hailed as ‘a ground-breaking work’ upon its original release in 1990, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie explores the role of animals in entertainment, from the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome and the travelling shows of the Middle Ages, to the circuses and dolphinaria of the 20th century.
When I began with WDCS some twenty years ago, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie was the best primer I could have read. It established in me the burning desire to see dolphin shows end once and for all. It still shocks me that the disturbing shows that Bill highlighted in the early 1990s still blight us now. Maybe they are not the same shows, but there are still captures from the wild, and places like the Georgia Aquarium try to justifty the suffering they cause in the name of 'education'.
Of all the books that inspired me to want to campaign for whales and dolphins this has to be up there as one of the best.
- Chris Butler-Stroud
This is a timely relauch of The Rose-Tinted Menagerie, and I would urge anyone who has not read it to do so. And if you did read it some twenty years ago, then re-read it. It'll show you we still have a way to go in this fight, but knowing where we have come from is the first step in knowing where the journey still needs to take us and what we need to achieve.
About the author
Prior to its first publication in 1990, author and investigative journalist William M Johnson spent five years researching The Rose-Tinted Menagerie. His research took him to big tops, menageries and dolphin pools throughout the length and breadth of Europe, and to circus shows from as far afield as the Soviet Union and the United States. From his own undercover work and from the testimony of scores of ex-circus and dolphin show staff, by 1990 Johnson had built up a formidable catalogue of evidence that, upon publication, dismayed wildlife experts, shocked the casual reader and provoked political debate: The Rose-Tinted Menagerie. While some establishments have since shut their doors forever — such as the infamous dolphin ‘striptease’ revue at the Moulin Rouge in Paris — these historical snapshots lucidly expose forms of cruelty and exploitation tragically still all too prevalent elsewhere, from the brutal capture of dolphins from the wild, to the sordid traveling dolphin shows currently entertaining locals and tourists in the Far East.
You can get a kindle version or an original print version of the book here at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
If you want to follow our blog from the IWC 2012 please link here to our new test site where we are publishing from the meeting in Panama,
WDCS has just been with colleagues to the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the issue of Denmark's position on the issue of whaling.
You can read an op ed piece we created for the EU Policy and debate site, EurActiv.Com
Its all well and good the British blaming the French for, well everything, but can the British actually believe that French fishermen are eating dolphins? Well it seems the media think so. The UK's press ran articles a few days ago trailing that 'dolphins had been filleted'. And this is not the first time this has happened. In the past French fishermen had quite a taste for dolphin.
As can be seen here on this old cigarette card (from 1928) the hunting of dolphins was more widespread than we would have liked to have believed. The card is too small to read here, but it actually says,
'Dolphins often appear in the Channel and off the Cornish coast, where they are sometimes caught in nets...In France their flesh was formerly esteemed a luxury, and under the impression that it was fish, was allowed on fast days!. Dolphins, like Whales are not fishes, but mammals.'
But the question is why is it happening again? Is it just some cruel individuals, or is austerity meaning that people are doing the unthinkable or is it something else?
We have recently seen a spread of marine bush-meat consumption across parts of the world as people hoover up remaining fish stocks, but its been a while since fishermen turned back the years in Europe. Around fifteen years ago dolphins were washed up on the Cornish coast with similar injuries. Questions were asked then of why would someone do such a thing.
Well it's illegal and it's immoral, and the sooner it's stopped the better. At the same time Europe has to address the source of this problem which is the bycatch of these creatures in fishing nets. It's no good governments saying its terrible that dolphins are dying when consumed whilst not also condemning the slaughter of these remarkable cetaceans in fishing nets.
Yes, if its proven its terrible that someone has eaten dolphin, but why were they caught in the first place?
So the Conneyland dolphins died because of an opiate overdose, that some idiot gave them during a rave. 'Zoo dolphins deaths 'Caused by Party Drugs'
We need to ask why the dolphinarium ever allowed the rave to take place so close to the dolphins in the first place?
Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals who need to live in complex social groups. In captivity they will usually have been separated from their families, sometimes being captured in cruel hunts. A concrete tank can never replace their ocean home or their families.
We have no right to put these amazing creatures in captivity. Captive whale and dolphin shows are not educational, nor are they ‘conservation’.
As this case proves, the dolphin display industry is about making money out of these creatures – but it’s often the dolphins that pay the ultimate price.
Good to see the UK standing firm on fish disgards - shame that the Chancellor is threatening to steamroller over the rest of our wildlife
The Guardian is reporting that the 'UK vowed to hold firm against plans to continue the wasteful practice of throwing away edible fish at sea, at a meeting in Brussels on Monday. France and Spain have written a "joint declaration" to be discussed at today's all-day meeting of fisheries ministers in Brussels, the Guardian revealed last week, which if adopted would mean the proposed ban on discarding healthy fish at sea would be lost.'
WDCS takes it's hat off to the UK Minister, Richard Benyon MP, for fighting to conserve fish.
Meanwhile the UK's Chancellor has appeared to have declared war on the rest of our wildlife.
In April 2011, the UK Government’s Cabinet Office launched its ‘Red Tape Challenge’. This means, the Government publishes regulations online every few weeks according to a specific theme. They are asking the public for comments on the impacts of regulations and possible improvements. The Red Tape Challenge website states that ‘the default presumption will be that burdensome regulations will go. If Ministers want to keep them, they have to make a very good case for them to stay.’ This means, unless there is a positive position taken by the public and Ministers, the regulation should be scrapped.
What appears to be a positive method of public consultation could, however, be turning into a nightmare for nature and biodiversity conservation, as well as a method for Government to avoid its own declared aims on climate change.
Throughout the process the Government publishes the general regulations that cross all sectors. These six cross-cutting themes (Equalities, Environment, Employment Related Law, Company and Commercial Law, Pensions) will be open for comment throughout the Red Tape Challenge process, but every few weeks the Government publishes the regulations affecting one specific sector or industry. For each of these there will be a ‘spotlight’ window for users to submit views. Interested businesses, individuals and organisations are asked to comment on which regulations could be improved or redesigned, which should be got rid of, or which should be kept.
The regulations under the Environment Theme aim to promote sustainable development and protect the environment. There are 278 regulations that relate to the environment, for ease of commenting, the Government has broken them into the following seven areas:
- Air quality
- Biodiversity, wildlife management, landscape, countryside and recreation
- Energy labelling and sustainable products
- Industrial emissions and carbon reductions
- Noise and nuisance
- Environmental permits, information and damage
The regulations under the Biodiversity, wildlife management, landscape, countryside and recreation area for example aim to conserve vulnerable or rare species, habitats and wildlife sites. They also control access to footpaths and national parks.
They include provisions on fishing activities; invasive non-native species; protection of native species; traps; trade in endangered species; zoo licensing; dangerous wild animals; game; selling dead wild birds; registering and ringing captive birds; wildfowling restrictions; national park authorities; common land; rights of way; areas of outstanding beauty; and pest control.
You can find all 163 regulations that relate to biodiversity, wildlife management, landscape, countryside and recreation on the left here.
The Government wants to hear the public’s views on how they could reduce regulatory burdens, and improve implementation of these regulations; to ensure that they can deliver their policy aims and protect the environment in the most effective way. They specifically want to know:
- Should they be scrapped altogether?
- Could their purpose be achieved in a non-regulatory way (eg through a voluntary code?) How?
- Could they be reformed, simplified or merged? How?
- Can their bureaucracy be reduced through better implementation? How?
- Can their enforcement be made less burdensome? How?
- Should they be left as they are?
WDCS wants to make sure that the Government takes their duties to protect the environment and species within seriously and therefore, we ask you to visit the above websites and submit a comment urging the government to safeguard the future of our vital environmental legislation. It only takes two minutes. Without it our wildlife and special places will be at the mercy of unrestrained human activity and ever more severe climate change.
Scraping them would also make a mockery of the Coalition Government's ambitions to be the ‘greenest government ever’.
Here are some particular points that you could raise:
- Regulations designed to conserve species and protect the natural environment are of great importance and should not be removed;
- We need more and better protection for wildlife and habitats, not less, specifically ‘recklessness’ needs to be reinstated into the Habitats Regulations and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to make it an offence again to deliberately or ‘recklessly’ capture, kill, disturb, or trade in an animal of European protected species which includes all dolphins, whales and porpoises;
- Urgent measures are required to prevent disturbance, protect breeding and resting places, control noise, and ensure cross-sectoral planning and zoning of activities and this will require a better legal definition of ‘disturbance’;
- A definition of ‘breeding and resting places’ is required for mobile marine species within the Habitats Regulations;
- Changes are also required within the Habitats Regulations to allow the prohibition of the deterioration or destruction of breeding and resting sites to be defined and enforced with regard to mobile marine species;
- Where offences are created, meaningful penalties need to be applied;
- There needs to be better coordination of planning across all regions and all industry sectors throughout the UK. Overall spatial planning, licensing and enforcement needs to be separated from those bodies promoting industry sectors to ensure the process is unbiased and transparent, whilst independence needs to be sought across all oversight
- Strategic Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments need to be carried out that do not pre-suppose that development is inevitable;
- Codes of Conduct should be made legally enforceable across all sectors with a lead organisation made responsible for enforcement. Impact studies should be undertaken in areas where recreational and commercial pressures may exist;
- Effective methods and incentives that promote compliance with laws need to be introduced, including via the appointment of marine wildlife tourism officers located in areas of high marine tourism activity and/or areas which are particularly vulnerable;
- Government needs to make a firm public commitment to cetacean protection so that it is clear to all sectors that activities at sea should take this into account.
I thought it was worth pointing you to a very interesting posting by Catherine Warren at the Huffington Post.
Catherine takes us through some recent history regarding how animals are treated in law is changing, and notes the recent change in US law in 2010 when the U.S. House of Representatives reclassified dogs from "equipment" to "combatants" in US military service.
The examples of online campaigning are also worth reading.