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Japan removes Humpbacks from hunt list


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#1 Drew

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 03:05 PM

Japan removed Humpback whales on their hunt list in response to pressure from the IWC and other countries like Australia.
Japan backs off Humpbacks

At face value, it's a conservationists victory for humpbacks, but what is really happening?
Australia has a huge whale watching industry, including the humpback and minke whales. And the Rudd campaign promise of whale protection is a big reason for this push for favorable public sentiment.
Other whaling nations like Norway go on quietly, where they have taken over 400 minkes in 2006 alone and have a quota for 1052 for 2007 and plans to get it up to 1800. This is even though they are having difficulty selling the meat of the 400 they caught.
Is Japan getting a raw deal on the PR side? Is there something to the Japanese feeling singled out for being the only Asian country that is vilified for doing what other Western nations, including Iceland and Norway do with a relatively free pass?

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#2 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:03 AM

I think that we have to be happy about each small victory. And I also think that many of the grass roots initiatives deserve credit too. Petitions like whalesrevenge.com and even Michael Aw who has raised a lot of publicity against this latest Japanese hunt.

Of course the war against whaling is bigger than a small battle like this. I think we would all like zero whaling - but we should be happy with each small victory too. Each victory and the publicity around it increases the pressure on the remaining whaling fleets.

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#3 writepic

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 02:09 AM

at the end of the day it comes down to dollars as ever. we are lucky that whale watching has created a huge tourism market, with related large dollar income with which to persuade politicians.

it seems absurd that norway can hardly shift last years quota, yet is pushing for a increase in the coming years. lets hope that ecenomics steer their hand like it did with iceland this year. who knows what will happen with japan. interesting years ahead.

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#4 SimonSpear

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 02:27 AM

I merely think that it's a token gesture to be honest. Japan also has trouble selling the whale meat that they get from their 'scientific' killing of whales. The last I heard they were packaging it up for school dinners to get rid of it which is grotesque, because not only do they not have a market for it, but with this move they are attempting to create a market within their next generation.

The only effective way to ensure a stop to whaling would be to use economic sanctions to hit countries in the pocket who promote or allow whaling. But unfortunately there is just not the will to do this, even from people like us who have massive concerns about their actions, so what hope is there that the wider public would be prepared to do it? Another way would be to directly stop the whaling fleet with navy ships, but again their is just not the political will here. Perhaps we've seen a change recently, but I'm not so sure.

Japan has been vilified perhaps more than Norway or Iceland, because they are hunting in the Southern Ocean in an area which has been ordained as a whale sanctuary. This a complete and utter finger up to the rest of the world which perhaps angers people more than the actions of European countries, although they should by no means get away with their actions either. I've heard a first hand account of a Norweigan whaling boat harpooning a whale directly in front of a whale watching vessel. It just makes you want to scream.

Cheers, Simon

Edited by SimonSpear, 23 December 2007 - 04:11 AM.


#5 Drew

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:58 PM

Simon
If you read any articles about whaling, Japan is almost always on the hot seat alone. Look at Taiji. It's actually in their own waters yet even Hollywood PR stunts have been involved. There seems to be a pattern of anti-Japanese reporting. Yes, hunting in the antarctic does affect more countries' whale watching business. And the minke whales hunted in the North Sea have very little whale watching potential so they are less important to the others.
Maybe the other countries have better spin doctors but Norway takes more whales per capita yet their name isn't dragged through the mud nearly as often. It's also probably why you see more resistance in the Japanese. It's national pride and they can use this biased negative press as fodder that it's some sort of anti-japanese movement more than conservationism. If the war on whaling is going to be won on PR, whomever is leading this charge has to change this.
I personally see everything as a resource like what the Japanese fisheries guy says. If it's sustainable, I'm good with it. I eat meat and seen enough natural kills to know nothing is going to be 'humane'. However, the problem is finding that magic number where 'sustainable' and abundant are synonymous.

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#6 Scubaskeeter

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 05:59 AM

Hi Drew,

Great discussion and I might point out that the humpbacks & fins are endangered but not the minkes. Just going on memory, I recall the North Atlantic minke herd is at 90,000, so taking a thousand is about one percent. Is that close to sustainable? That might be why the pressure is on our Japanese friends, whose hunt is relatively worse than the Norwegians. According to Farley Mowat, no sea mammals are abundant.

Whale meat must be an acquired or inherited taste, even caribou tastes better....much better.

Cheers,
Scott

#7 DeanB

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 07:47 AM

Sustainable...Abundance.... Just words of spin...

How about Intelligence...these animals have more intelligence in their fins than us....Its immoral and out dated to keep hunting these creatures now we know (Maybe A little) of their intelligence...

I think its a bloody disgrace for all countries to give the Jobs or tradition excuse to try and keep this barbaric practise alive. Remember legalised slavery and sending kids up chimneys...we learned...well most civilised nations have..

One day (Hopefully in my lifetime) we will all look back at this barbaric practise with utter shame..

Makes my blood boil..

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#8 Drew

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 08:14 AM

Scott
There are estimated over 300k minkes in the pacific and southern hemisphere where the Japanese hunt theirs. It's believe that the north pacific has about 20-30k (numbers are dubious at best).
There are also other reasons why there is little sympathy for the baleen whales in fishermen... the fisheries. With abundant whale stock, they are a competitor for fish stocks in the area. Fishermen have killed mammal competitors for hundreds of years. The monk seal in the Adriatic is extinct for that reason.
The interesting thing is that Japan is the only big whale meat market. And their own catches are rotting away. Norway and Iceland have tried repeatedly to sell Japan their whale meat to sustain their whaling industry. Remember whale meat was a staple in many japanese schools from the 40s to 60s due to the influence of the US on its restructuting policies and the cheap availability of whale meat in the pacific.
I do think that there's been too much japan bashing which has hardened the resolve of the nationalists in Japan to resist reducing whaling. There's going to be have to be a rethink to change the minds of nationalist pride.

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#9 EspenRekdal

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Posted 24 December 2007 - 05:25 PM

Hi guys,

I have been centerstage to the debate in Norway for many years. I can tell you that typical comando raids hitting whalers and disrupting them in action does little to sway opinion, quite the oposite it just gets people all nationalistic and stupid.
There is also the "sustainability" claim that minke whales have sufficient numbers to be hunted.
I can also add that one shouldn't get totally paniced about the Norwegian quotas they are rearely met, so an increase doesn't worry me much dispite my dissapointment in hearing the news.
I belive Norway and Iceland have recieved less bad pr because they limit catch (as far as I know) to only minke whales (the most abundant/"sustainable").

I think we should keep the animals intelligence out of the discussion as we have no problem killing other animals of similar intelligence. But when you have been in the ocean with any of these magnificent animals you do wonder how and why someone could kill them. I think thats the most important part of the solution. The feelings these animals evoke in us humans. Whalewatching is becoming bigger and bigger in Norway and this is changeing the veiws of the local fishermen to. It's not fast but it is happening. A boycot of the whalewatching industry would be counter productive in this regard. I don't think that whalers are particularily scared of loosing their jobs. There is practically no unemployment in Norway and whaling is a seasonal event that could easily be substituted by other activity i.e whale watching.. Some political lobies have recieved to much political support despite a lack or indiference of support in the majority of the population. Usually they will use any "attack" on whaling to raise local ignorance into a nationalistic frenzy to conger up the support they need. Norwegians don't like people telling them what to do (old problem with the sweeds and danes - long story) so don't! Tell them by giving the whalewatching industry a face and a economic incentive. I think dvindling interest for whale meat and a increase in whalewatching could be the biginning of something great for all whales, not just the Minke whales.

I'll stop rambling now and let you get back to celebrating Xmas.
(Sorry about the spelling its late.)

Merry xmas,
Espen :)
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#10 Paul Kay

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 02:32 AM

One day (Hopefully in my lifetime) we will all look back at this barbaric practise with utter shame..


Sorry to disagree Dean (and I do abhor killing whales) but..... . My father-in-law was the doctor or the whaling stations of South Georgia in the late 40s. He describes whaling as an 'honourable' profession because of the simple fact that we NEEDED whale oil when it was originally carried on. It finally failed due to two factors: greed - the standard practice of unregulated overfishing - and technology - replacement manufactured lubricants and suchlike. But I really don't think that we can view historical motives through modern eyes. (I do wish we could learn from history though).

Whalewatching is becoming bigger and bigger in Norway and this is changeing the veiws of the local fishermen to. It's not fast but it is happening.


And the hope is that the normal driving force of change - economics - finally drives whalewatching into the absolutely dominant position and making whalecatching an entirely pointless exercise. Unfortunately its unlikely to ever be fully stamped out - just think about tigers!
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#11 shawnh

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:35 PM

Sadly as we have fished out most large creatures from the ocean, whales again become on of the last large animals to catch. Fishermen don't usually care what they catch as long as they get a paid. Fishing fleets need something to fill their holds with. Whales are relatively easy to find and catch...hence the reason for their massive declines in the last 2 centuries. Economics does not always drive change. Tourism has far exceeds fisheries dollars in Galapagos yet they are stripping out marine resources at an astounding pace.

Why? Because it is the economics of those in control, the decision makers that matters. If they were getting as big a cut on tourism dollars as they do on fishery bribes and incentives, then we would see rapid change. Unfortunately, the 'good' guys have to little money to spend and ethics that prevent them from spending money in that fashion. So, I am a bit at a loss on how whale watching will actually drive change. Shark watching in Galapagos certainly hasn't :)

Any thoughts?
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#12 EspenRekdal

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 12:39 PM

And the hope is that the normal driving force of change - economics - finally drives whalewatching into the absolutely dominant position and making whalecatching an entirely pointless exercise. Unfortunately its unlikely to ever be fully stamped out - just think about tigers!


Absolutely! But, (and despite it's controversy) the acidification of our oceans due to co2 emissions will likely kill all of the whales food or make it difficult for whales to find their food in sufficient quantaties to survive. So I think we all should keep this in mind when we travel to remote destination on diving trips or consume more than we should! How will the coming generations look at our unwillingness to save not just the whales but our planet from the disaster an acidification will have?

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#13 writepic

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 02:52 PM

Economics does not always drive change. Tourism has far exceeds fisheries dollars in Galapagos yet they are stripping out marine resources at an astounding pace.

Why? Because it is the economics of those in control, the decision makers that matters. If they were getting as big a cut on tourism dollars as they do on fishery bribes and incentives, then we would see rapid change. Unfortunately, the 'good' guys have to little money to spend and ethics that prevent them from spending money in that fashion. So, I am a bit at a loss on how whale watching will actually drive change. Shark watching in Galapagos certainly hasn't :excl:

Any thoughts?


i think 100 years ago debating heavy shark fishing wouldn't have been even in the public arena. "eco" tourism (for want of a better word), has meant that people with !!relatively!! large amounts of money have been made aware of international ecosystems on a first hand basis. we have opened the debate on shark fishing etc on a worldwide scale and although we have a LONG way to go, we have not lost. miracles do happen. if they could speak, the galapagos giant tortoise would confirm to us that.


the acidification of our oceans due to co2 emissions will likely kill all of the whales food or make it difficult for whales to find their food in sufficient quantaties to survive.
Espen :-)


with all due respect espen, this is complete crap. "What we know is a drop. What we don't know is an ocean," Isaac Newton.
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#14 Drew

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 04:08 PM

...if they could speak, the galapagos giant tortoise would confirm to us that.

They'd probably exclaim..."ay por favor! Qué usted está haciendo?!?" (translation: WTF are you doing?!?)

As for acidification, it is a problem and something that's not all too well known. The ramifications are still not known but coral reefs have shown to have slower growth (almost half the normal rate) in higher CO2 content water. It's estimated that by 2100, much of the coral reefs in the world won't survive. The timescale for plankton which for many baleen species, is not known as yet but it can't be that much better. It's been shown that pteropod's shells dissolve in high CO2 content as well.

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#15 TheRealDrew

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 04:24 PM

Why? Because it is the economics of those in control, the decision makers that matters. If they were getting as big a cut on tourism dollars as they do on fishery bribes and incentives, then we would see rapid change.

Any thoughts?


A bit off-topic but along the same lines, there are places where the oceans are part of the tourism and the growth is killing the things beneath the waves. People are getting their cut, or more likely whatever influence or political views, of the tourism and by the time they realize the reefs and wildlife are shot, and the tourism gone, it will be way too late.

It's estimated that by 2100, much of the coral reefs in the world won't survive. The timescale for plankton which for many baleen species, is not known as yet but it can't be that much better. It's been shown that pteropod's shells dissolve in high CO2 content as well.



In some places it seems like that is being way too optimistic (2100) for coral and I have seen some estimates that marine life has maybe another 30-40 years.

Based on some of the place I dive in the Carribean and what I have seen in the last 5-6 years alone is real scary. Some places I went to in the early 90s are devastated.

Comes back to my basic theory. Everyone should leearn to dive and do a couple. Maybe that will help wake them up.

Sigh. Sometimes it is difficult not to get a tad disheartened by it all. Thankfully getting PO'd then keeps things going.

#16 writepic

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 07:48 AM

Based on some of the place I dive in the Carribean and what I have seen in the last 5-6 years alone is real scary. Some places I went to in the early 90s are devastated.

Comes back to my basic theory. Everyone should leearn to dive and do a couple. Maybe that will help wake them up.



most of the reef damage i've seen over the last same time period has been due to way too many divers/fishermen etc. to be able to pinpoint CO2 as a culprit we would have to be studying the decline in the absence of all other factors. where does such a reef exist?

i think we should be very very careful in the way we move forward with the CO2 arguement. if we don't watch out, we will end up with back to normal CO2 levels but everything will still dissapear because we ignored the various other factors in drawing up our plans.
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#17 Drew

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 07:58 AM

Water acidification is a known factor. Obviously it varies with location.
Tests in aquariums show coral growth slowing up to 50% when placed in water with CO2 content brought to the year 2050 estimates. That is a test without other factors.
Then the issue of pteropods shells dissolving very slowly, again tested in the confines of a lab.
So those factors are yet to be refuted. Obviously, global warming, CO2 emissions, chemical/waste runoff are some of the the factors contributing to the state of the ocean. It's a finite body of water and it can only take that much before reactions occur.
Is CO2 the only factor? No. But considering the science involved, I think it'd be folly to ignore too.

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#18 danielandrewclem

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Posted 27 December 2007 - 12:20 PM

I was just in Korea, and saw whale or dolphin meat for sale at the huge seafood market in Pohang. (Looked like the meat was from a small odontocete, but the bones and baleen were obviously from mysticetes.) I wondered if perhaps they were buying some of Japan's "scientific" catch, but then I read in NG the other day that Korean fishermen are allowed to keep and sell minke and some other cetaceans as long as the catch is accidental and they file a full report of the take. In the last decade or so, according to the records, there had been ~400 incidental takes of minkes. But then somebody did genetic analysis of the meat at the market, and it turned out that the meat was from over 800 whales.

There was also a stall at the Pohang market that was specializing in mola mola. They peel the thick layer of gelatinous flesh from under the skin, chop it into cubes, and sell bowls of it. Seemed to be a new thing, according to my Korean in-laws. Not sure if they're harpooning them or just bringing them up as bycatch in gillnets and other gear.
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#19 shawnh

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 06:03 PM

Bottom line is this:

-the earth is warming and regardless of what we do now, it will keep warming...too late...sorry. We should work hard to not add to it anymore but we have passed the point where we can stop it.

-the oceans are increasing in acidity. As with above, it is happening and we are too late to stop it. Lets not add to it.

-the fish are and marine mammals are disappearing at an alarming rate. Unlike above, there is a LOT we can to about it. We can actually change and let fish and marine mammal stocks start rebounding.

We will need all the species numbers we can muster to survive the impacts of global warming. That means focusing on increasing (not just slowing the decline) of marine stocks. So often today, global warming is used as a catch all for ignoring other environmental concerns. Recently I read about the fisheries minister of Philippines blaming plummeting tuna stocks on global warming. What total BS! They have been overfishing their tuna stocks for years and watch groups have been warning of the impending crash. Now that the crash is happening, they blame global warming. In effect, they are removing all blame and policy implications.

I just heard from a friend today who had spoken to his buddy in spain. This person had spent a day at the largest fishing port and spoke with many shark fisherman. Every day they are bringing in THOUSANDS of sharks. Sadly today, almost none are longer than 1 meter. In addition, they must travel thousands of miles to catch these juvenile and infant sharks. They have litterly wiped out the atlantic shark populations off Europe.

Yet what is the EU's response this situation. NOTHING but useless debate and ongoing "ANALYSIS" of the situation. We analyze and debate until its all but gone. Then we protect that last stragglers in once flourishing populations.

Global Warming and Ocean Acidification are a fact that we and the ocean's marine creatures are going to have to deal with. We should not contribute more to this.
But: We need drastic and immediate change in global fisheries. This is something we can affect TODAY if we (read anyone who cares) are willing to make the sacrifices and drive for change.

Can we make a difference? I admit the outlook is completely dismal. But, we must try and keep trying.
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#20 wagsy

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 09:51 PM

Found this at the Fremantle (PERTH) docks on our way to ROTTO the other day.

Could it be a back up harpoon vessel in disguise?

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