Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leave the Minke alone!

1) The whaling debate is about killing animals that are either endangered (as in the case of Fin whales or J-stock Minke) or likely in a dramatic and mysterious decline (as in the case of Minke whales) OR important to other nations whale watching industries (such as Humpbacks and Right whales).

2) Some whales such as Blue whales and Right whales were hunted almost to extinction and are slowly recovering in population. Other whales such as Southern Minke have maintained a steady high population of around a million for around the last million years, yet have fallen to around 300,000 since the 1980's! Clearly an animals 'endangered' status must be measured both in past and future threats as both are very different issues.

3) As recently shown culling whales will not help fisheries. Whales are not eating all the fish, humans are eating all the fish. The oceans health is important to all mankind and it is irresponsible for one nation to put it at such great risk.

4) Japanese whalers usually kill % wise mostly pregnant female whales, which in recovering populations puts the genetic diversity of the species at risk. Japans research has been a very low standard & its closed doors secresy and reliance on lethal sampling ilogical.

5) The decline of Minke may be related to many different issues. Some that have been suggested are high infant mortality due to Crassicaudosis parasites, low fertility due to Brucellosis Bacteria infections in genitals, sunburn, eating plastic, ship strikes, bycatch, noise polution, ghost nets and the die off of around 80% of the krill that Minke eat. With these very real problems, and future potential ones as Antarctica melts the future of the Minke is uncertain at best. While the main cause of the decline is a mystery, it is folly to encourage whaling in any form.


Yea I know wheres the spell check.
Now I can back up every sentence there with a source and happy to do so.
But really I am more interested in why other people think its important to stick up for the Minke. The obvious reason really is that they are a very likable animal, as anyone who has dived with them on the GBR will attest.

Whale eating culture.

Due to media self-censorship and indifference among the Japanese public on the issue, a "whalers' sanctuary" has been created inside Japanese society.

It protects a small number of bureaucrats, whalers and politicians so they can enjoy vested interests in whaling and keep their nationalistic stance. All at the expense of Japanese taxpayers.~ source

From what I have read the Japanese only had a mainstream practise of eating whales for about 15 years following the end of WWII.

I will try find some stats for that, but for almost all of Japans whaling history, whale meat was only consumed in a few isolated areas.

Whale consumption had dropped by a lot before the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, as alternative meats became available on the market. Whale was seen as a boring food, that was important previously because it had been available and cheap! Many Japanese people were happy to have had a full belly thanks to Japans whaling at a time when many were going hungry!

But times have changed now. The whales killed by Japan are killed to provide an elite few and their pets with a luxury dish designed to show their power and wealth. The meat is contaminated and often comes from illegal poaching from wildlife sanctuaries.

It has often been said that many people who oppose whaling are hypocritical for eating other animals. But the Japanese eat other animals as well. If they were as contaminated with mercury like cetaceans are perhaps they would not!

That said each citizen of Japan eats yearly on average around 70kg of fish.

"Last year, 5500 tons of whale meat was supplied to the Japanese market. This includes whale meat which does not get eaten and is simply thrown away because it didn't sell. Even if we generously assume all of the meat was in fact eaten, that is only about 46g of whale meat per person , as opposed to 5.6kg of beef, 12.1kg of pork, and 10.5kg of chicken."

Japans secret whaling.

Japan leads the world with its whaling, being behind the slaughter of HUNDREDS of thousands of cetaceans in the past few decades alone. But while figures are released for Japans pelagic whaling in the Southern Ocean and Northern Pacific, and its coastal whaling and small cetacean hunts.... there is whale meat coming onto the Japanese market from unexplained sources. Some may be unreported bycatch, but others like the 2 mystery fin whales that were discussed at last years IWC meeting remain totally unexplained.

There is an interesting look at in this link which I will leave a few quotes from.

OSU researcher says Japanese whale killings hidden and proves that Japan's statistics on the endangered fin whales it has killed are bogus.

Baker and colleagues started their detective work when they bought whale meat from shops in Japan in 2006 and 2007. Using DNA fingerprinting, they soon discovered that the meat came from morefin whales than Japan has acknowledged killing.

"Clearly there must be an undocumented source of these whales," Baker said, "but we don't know what it is."

Now Fin whales are the second largest animals on Earth, it is said that even the Nisshin Maru struggles to process them. This raises the spectre that Japan may very well have a secret pirate whaling ship operating as the Soviets did in the 1980's.

For those interesting in some of the history behind Japans secret whaling operations I provide these sources.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Australia can lawfully stop whaling within its Antarctic EEZ.

While the Australian federal court case last year found that Japanese whaling in Australian waters is illegal there has been no arrests of Japanese whalers who still continue to poach whales from Australian waters despite the ruling. Pressure is begining to mount of the Australian government to take action against the whalers and uphold the law.

Australia has every right to fight the Japanese in court over whaling and still remain diplomatic friends and trading partners.

For those of you who do not know much about the issue, I reccomend checking out the pdf below.

Seminar paper delivered at the Australian National University, Canberra, 6 May 2008,
and the National Environmental Law Association and Monash University, Melbourne, 7 May 2008.

"There is no doubt that Australia is the greatest whale loving nation on Earth," said Swedish 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt. "This country rocks."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Police raid Sea Shepherd, take Whale Wars Season II footage as evidence.

An armed squad seized 157 of Discovery Channel's raw videos, and navigational records from the ship in Hobart. The videos show the Sea Shepherd's clashes with Japanese whalers and may be given to the Japanese Government. A federal agent said yesterday's raid resulted from a formal referral from Japanese authorities and that police were undertaking preliminary inquiries into this summer's Southern Ocean confrontation.

OK so AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said the allegations against Sea Shepherd relate to endangering the Japanese ship, the Yushin Maru III.

"On the 17th of February the referral [came] from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade," he said.

"But it was, when I say referral, it was simply onforwarding to us the allegations made in Japan by the director-general of the Japanese fishing agency."
So once again the Fisheries Agency flexed and the Foreign Affairs people jumped.
Japans strategy of letting the Fisheries Agency decide the nations foreign policy is surely a huge gamble?

Eighteen months ago the AFP investigated a complaint by Mr Watson against the Japanese authorities. In that case, the federal Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute.

"So in that sense we understand the legislation and the need to treat the legislation seriously and objectively for all parties," Mr Keelty said.

So the official complaint stemmed from the director-general of the Japanese fishing agency. Now the federal attorney-general would need to approve any prosecution arising from the raid on the Steve Irwin in Hobart! Or so says the Aussie Senate anyway. Obviously Animal Planet are not happy about the situation!

The television channel "has a team of lawyers working on it. That footage is extremely valuable to them. We are literally looking at $20 million worth of footage," Capt Watson said.

"I think the Japanese are far more scared of that footage than of us and the concern is, if it is kept as evidence, it will never see the light of day."

Now the Steve Irwin and Japanese whaling ships collided twice in recent months, and the activists have staged hit-an-run attacks on the fleet with rancid butter-filled bottles hurled from motorized runabouts, according to both sides.

The Steve Irwin was met by the AFP when it docked in Hobart on Friday afternoon (AEDT) and officers confiscated the ship's log book and video footage.

The footage taken by wildlife documentary group Animal Planet depicted some of the most dramatic whale-killing scenes ever seen, crew on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship said.

The police, who had search warrants, kept the crew on board as they searched cabins.

Senator Brown has written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling for an immediate explanation as to how the raid could be in the nation's interest.

"On the face of it, this is outrageous behaviour by the Australian government to secure favour from the Japanese authorities," he said.

"And if it wasn't, what on earth is the Australian Federal Police up to?

"It is an extraordinary raid, that defies the imagination."

Senator Brown said he could think of no other explanation for why the ship was raided other than to take footage from respected international media organisations to provide the Japanese with prosecution evidence.

"If this action was taken at the behest of the Japanese authorities it will outrage many Australians.

"The Australian Federal Police can expect detailed questioning from the Greens at Senate Estimates this coming week."

Does all of this remind anyone else of this recent history?

Southern Bluefin Tuna (New Zealand v. Japan; Australia v. Japan) 1999

Professor Crawford represented Australia in 1999 in a joint action with New Zealand against Japan over its huge so-called experimental catch of southern bluefin tuna in a case with parallels to the "scientific" whaling program Canberra brands a sham.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Australia gives in to the Japanese bully tactics.

An armed squad seized 157 of Discovery Channel's raw videos, and navigational records from the ship in Hobart. The videos show the Sea Shepherd's clashes with Japanese whalers and may be given to the Japanese Government. A federal agent said yesterday's raid resulted from a formal referral from Japanese authorities and that police were undertaking preliminary inquiries into this summer's Southern Ocean confrontation.

Greensleader Bob Brown called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to explain the raid. "On the face of it, this is outrageous behaviour by the Australian Government to secure favour from the Japanese authorities,"he said.

"I'm also told that the Japanese used absolutely outrageous tactics, like sound wave attacks on people in helicopters, which could have brought down those helicopters from the Sea Shepherd."

Senator Brown said he could think of no other explanation for why the ship was raided other than to take footage from respected international media organisations to provide the Japanese with prosecution evidence.

Combined with Japans bribery of IWC members, Peter Garretts back stab of the Sea Shepherd society has once more left the future of whales as bleak indeed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama vs Whalers feb 23rd!

There is no dislike of Americans here at Takasito, only frustration at their willingness to let the whaling issue stagnate. Its not that the Americans have not done more than their share already for cetacean protection, its more that after doing so much in the past... that to have them doing so little lately is a shock! Without American support New Zealand, Australia and Chile are simply ignored by the Japanese.

As you probably know, the International Whaling Commission is working on a plan to allow Japan to kill more whales.
Who brokered that plan? The American delegate, William Hogarth.
Want to know who appointed Hogarth to the IWC?
George W. Bush.

There may be time for President Obama to send Hogarth home and stop this deal. Please sign the petition.

On the 23rd of Feb Obama will meet with the Japanese Prime Minister. The U.S. position on the issue of whaling has been, and probably still is, more important than the IWC position. It is perhaps a good time to send the man an email advising him to take the oportunity to resolve the whaling issue so that diplomatic ties can be strengthened in this challenging time.

Never forget that Americans have been behind some of the most important whale protection measures, will be a large part of any future solution and have been the most important players in anti-whaling since 1940 when they quit doing it! Let us hope Obama brings ballance to the force. We need the USA to lead the charge on article VIII.

Before last November’s election, Greenpeace USA asked him: “If you are elected President, what concrete steps will you take to convince Japan to stop whaling?

Obama replied: “As president, I will ensure that the US provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Joji Morishita

"These men have been painted as heroes," said Joji Morishita, consulate for the Japanese government's powerful Fisheries Agency, which sponsors the whale hunts. "They're not heroes."


So the power tripper Joji Morishita wants to lock the lads Toru Suzuki & Junichi Sato away for a decade to boost the Fisheries Agencies ego. Well they may find Japans image will pay dearly for that choice. Japans sponsorship of illegal whale poaching, & support for the ivory trade is unacceptable in this day and age. Its a disgrace, and history will record Toru and Junichi as hero's.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

People to email over Japans illegal whaling.

Props to Animal Planet for providing such a handy list!

Everyone has an opinion about the issues — and a voice. Want yours to be heard by the right people? Here's how:

Write a letter, send an e-mail or place a phone call to one or more of the following representatives and non-profit organizations. State what's on your mind. If you're expressing an opinion, use facts to back it up. And remember, stay calm and courteous, as this increases your chances of being heard.

(Please note that the following list of contacts is not exhaustive.)

* The United States of America is an anti-whaling nation. It stands opposed to a resumption of commercial whaling, but does allow for small-scale aboriginal whaling.

Contact the President
Contact Your Senator
Contact Your Representative

* Japan is a pro-whaling nation currently engaged in a long-term scientific research program to assess the commercial viability of whale stocks.

Contact the Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda

* Sea Shepherd is an anti-whaling non-profit activist organization that uses non-violent, direct-action tactics to thwart whaling activity.

Contact Sea Shepherd

* The Institute of Cetacean Research is a privately owned, non-profit institution that conducts scientific research on whales. Their legal status is authorized by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Contact the Institute of Cetacean Research

* Greenpeace is a non-profit activist organization, part of whose mission is to document and non-violently interrupt the hunting of whales.

Contact Greenpeace

* Norway is a pro-whaling nation that engages in commercial whaling. Having filed an objection to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) commercial whaling moratorium, it is not bound by it.

Contact the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg

* Australia is an anti-whaling nation committed to whale protection. It has established the Australian Whale Sanctuary to protect all whales and dolphins found in its waters.

Contact the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd

* Iceland is a pro-whaling nation that resumed small-scale commercial whaling in 2006 following five years of research whaling.

Contact Iceland's fisheries minister, Einar Kristinn Gudfinnsson ~ (note e-mail link at bottom)

Japans whale and dolphin quota for 2009.

If we look at which nations have killed great whales since 1986 when the 0 catch limits were imposed.... you will notice that Japan has killed by far the most each year. Theres no figure for 2009 yet but it is very unlikely to be less than the 2008 in either the Northern Pacific OR the Southern Ocean. There may be a small reduction in the numbers of dolphins killed.

An interesting thing about that link is that it does not name the species that are caught in Japans commercial coastal whaling. Or the other cetaceans killed by Japanese whalers .

As a point of interest it should be noted that there is no upper limit to the number of whales or dolphins Japan can assign itself as a quota.

I will update this post when/if Japan releases any stats.

EDIT ~ actually the IKAN website did link to this pdf file that shows the body count for small cetaceans. No heads up on the 2009 quota though.

Stink bombs are just some rotten butter.

If the Japanese whalers are so worried about 'chemicals' that smell bad.... why did they get a job cutting open dead whales in the first place?
I know most of you have not been around a dead whale, but even a fresh one don't smell too charming once ya get into the blood and guts of it all.
Ya have to argue whether the stink bombs made the place smell better or worse.... and if the 'acids' inside the whale were more dangerous than the ones inside the stink bombs?

Infact considering the very real risk of catching the ball rotting disease brucella while hacking up whales, theres the chance the stink bombs had an anti-septic effect and actually improved worker safety.

Seriously, fill a bottle with butter and leave it to ferment. You will soon have your fearsome chemical ACID weapon.

The mind boggles at the terms the Japanese would use to describe a thrown chicken egg! Probably something like this.


Oh of course there would be a link to hydrogen sulfide of some type too. lol

But seriously the stink bombs are just rotten butter, the reason they smell so bad is due to the Butyric Acid content of the rotten butter. Butyric Acid is certainly not the deadly chemical weapon the Japanese make it out to be.

In 2008 we saw the Nisshin Maru claiming injury of two crew from a butyric acid attack.
Paul Watson responded to the claims with

"My crew did not injure anyone," said Captain Watson. "This is just a spin designed to get public sympathy for men who are themselves vicious and ruthless killers of whales."

The Japanese claim that two whalers were injured when six liters of butyric acid were tossed onto the flensing deck of the Nisshin Maru.

According to Japan's Fisheries Agency spokesman, Hideki Moronuki, the two Japanese crewmen sustained injuries from the attack after one was hit by an empty container of acid and the other had acid squirted in his eye.

"Nice try, but a total fabrication," said Captain Watson. "The butyric acid is contained in one-liter glass bottles, all of which broke upon contact with the flensing deck of the Nisshin Maru. These bottles are sealed and the acid released after being broke, so it is impossible to be hit by an empty bottle. Secondly, no one squirted butyric acid into anyone's eye, and even if they did, this is a simple non-toxic butter acid, basically rancid butter. It will not cause eye injury. If we had tossed marshmallows on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, I'm sure the whalers would try to claim they were injured by them"

Whale Wars ~ pilot!

I'd like to add a blast from the past, the whale wars pilot episodes. Originally shot from both the Sea Shepherd side and Japanese side and then was going to be editted together. Who is guilty about dolphin drive clashes? And why is it always Taiji people film ?
I hope everyone is still excited about seeing the new Taiji movie The Cove! Made to give people an up close look at the wonderful Japanese 'Whaling Culture'.

One thing is for sure Whale Wars Season II is going to have some magical scenes in it!
Its just a shame we will not have footage of the Japanese soldiers faces in Indonesia when they were refused entry.

“We asked the Japanese whaling ship to go and it has left. We don’t want to support any illegal fishing,” said Sumarto Suharno, head of the East Java Natural Resources Conservation Office, or KSDA.

Endangered Minke whales.

You know.... if you say the Southern Minke is endangered, then perhaps you are right. If you say the Southern Minke is not endangered then perhaps you are right.

The point is that we do not know if the population is crashing, stable or increasing. Most of the data seems to point towards a very dramatic decline. Can it be possible that even the worlds most common whale will be extinct in 66 years! The rate of decline suggests it will be.

The situation as it stands is that Southern Minke are Data deficient!

Japanese whalers killing every whale they see is not going to improve this situation either. We need population trend data, not a butchers list of protected animals that have been served up in Japanese diners.

If we look at the authority on endangered animals we find the Minkes future is far from sure.

Here is a picture of Minke population estimates.

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient
The data analyzed by standard methods suggest a reduction of approximately 60% between the 1978–91 period and the 1991–2004 period. However, alternative hypotheses to explain the apparent decline are still under investigation. If the decline is real, its extent and causes are currently unknown, and it may still be continuing. The corresponding population reduction thresholds (criterion A2) are 30% for Vulnerable and 50% for Endangered, measured over a 3-generation time window, which in this case is estimated to be approximately 66 years (22 years per generation). If the decline proves to be largely or mainly an artifact, or proves to have been transient in the light of analyses of more recent data, the species would qualify as Least Concern. If it were real, the species would qualify as Endangered. Pending resolution of the uncertainties relating to the apparent decline, however, the species is listed as Data Deficient (DD).

The IWC discussed this in 2007. The decline was specific to minke whales; estimates for other species (blue, fin, killer, humpback) increased over the period; an explanation for the decline would need to account for this.

I'd like to add that ~ comparing declines caused by harvest followed by recovery from harvest controls to declines from loss of habitat and climate warming are apples and oranges. Whales surviving past threats is different to them surviving the future ones they face.

While genetics has revealed a stable Minke population for the last million years or so, the threats that now face Minke are going to be the largest they have ever faced before. Both of these threats revolve around the krill.

Talley’s claim Japan should be allowed to hunt whales because they were doing it sustainably is sadly misinformed. There is no evidence for the alleged “sustainability” of Japanese whaling. In fact, despite Japan’s insistence that there are plenty of whales given the Southern Hemisphere minke whale population numbers over 760,000 animals, these figures have been discredited by scientists and withdrawn by the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. Research has shown that minke numbers are closer to 250,000 – less than a third of those claimed – and the IWC has repeatedly called for Japan to end its hunt. Furthermore, scientific research has shown that the minke whale population is further subdivided into three separate species, and then into local and regional populations with little inter-migration between them. This means even a very small kill could result in localised extinction in a particular area. Japan’s plans to expand its kill to include species classified as endangered and vulnerable makes a mockery of any claims of sustainability.
Past commercial whaling was characterised by a serial depletion of one whale stock after another, and massive illegal and unreported kills of over 90,000 whales which drove many of the larger species to the verge of extinction. Despite over forty years of protection, Southern Hemisphere Blue whales still number as few as 400 animals, and may never recover. As Muller points out, “We have only to consider the lessons of history to see whaling is not sustainable – particularly when “managed” by the industry responsible for exploiting it.”
Source for above quote.

So what about this population explosion of Minke that the Japanese like to claim?

The DNA from minke samples shows such genetic diversity that the Antarctic population must have been extensive for the past 200,000 years, says a Stanford Universityresearcher. That long history challenges the view of some whaling advocates that the 8-meter-long minkes used to be rare in Antarctica but flourished as other whales dwindled. This boom supposedly keeps populations of bigger, competing whales from growing.

The shape of the Antarctic-minke tree indicates "a couple of bumps and troughs", but "no real booms and busts," says Palumbi. For the recent part of its million-year history, the minke whale population has numbered between 500,000 and 1 million. ~ source

So there is no surge in Minke numbers. Rather we have a species that appears to be in VERY rapid decline. They are not roaches or weeds to be pulled. Considering the Japanese practise of killing the pregnant females, combined with the loss of fertility due to brucella infections, and the loss of their krill food source to climate change..... and we have the perfect scenario for the worlds most common whale to be made extinct by Japan.

This is unacceptable, and while we may not be able to clean all the plastic from the ocean, or stop climate change, WE CAN end whaling BEFORE the Southern Minke is pushed to the edge of extinction as the J-stock Minke around Japan already have been!

Illegal Japanese whaling.

While there are many reasons people consider Japans whaling illegal, there is perhaps no more clear example of it being so than IWC regulation 19(d). Japan breaks this regulation by using a factory ship based kill fleet to take Endangered Fin Whales in the IWC Southern Ocean Whale sactuary. This is different to the Australian whale sanctuary! Sanctuaries where established after the over hunting period before 1986, but Japan has consistantly abused the regulations around them.

Adopted by the International Whaling Commission in 1994, the Southern Ocean Sanctuary provides long-term protection to around three quarters of the world's remaining whales on their feeding grounds.

The sanctuary is designed to allow the natural restoration of an ecosystem devastated by commercial whaling. Some whale populations had been reduced to a tiny fraction of their original numbers by commercial whaling. From an initial population of around 250,000 blue whales only about a thousand now remain.

In 1994, the IWC voted by 23 to 1 to adopt the majority of the Southern Ocean south of 40ºS as a sanctuary in which all commercial whaling is prohibited. Japan was the only country to vote against the Sanctuary and lodged an objection to the extent that it applies to minke whales. The Southern Ocean Sanctuary came into effect on 6th December 1994 for an indefinite period, but was reviewed in July 2004 at the 56th meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Its the continued existence was put to a vote and was the most significant vote for whale conservation taken in the IWC since the morotorium adoption many years previously.

The Japanese are in violation of IWC regulation 19(a). The IWC regulations in the Schedule to the Convention forbid the use of factory ships to process any protected stock: "19. (a) It is forbidden to use a factory ship or a land station for the purpose of treating any whales which are classified as Protection Stocks in paragraph 10. Paragraph 10(c) provides a definition of Protection Stocks and states that Protection Stocks are listed in the Tables of the Schedule. Table 1 lists all the baleen whales, including minke, fin, and humpback whales and states that all of them are Protection Stocks.

In addition, the IWC regulations specifically ban the use of factory ships to process any whales except minke whales: Paragraph 10(d) provides: “(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of paragraph 10 there shall be a moratorium on the taking, killing or treating of whales, except minke whales, by factory ships or whale catchers attached to factory ships. This moratorium applies to sperm whales, killer whales and baleen whales, except minke whales.” Fin and humpback whales are both baleen whales and are subject to this moratorium.

To get around what is a blatant breach of IWC regulations the Japanese abuse the Permits system. But really...

In the discussion of these permits in the Commission, an additional factor raised is that the catches take place within the Southern Ocean Sanctuary declared by the IWC in 1994 (to which Japan lodged an objection with respect to minke whales). If a Sanctuary is in place, it can be argued that information on improving management of whaling in that region is unnecessary. On many occasions, the Commission has (by majority vote) passed a Resolution urging Japan not to issue a permit for these catches.

Mean while REAL whale scientists that have been ignored for decades by the Japanese Fisheries Agency are starting to fight back. Japans Fin Whale black market has been exposed once more and brought legitamacy to those that oppose Japans whaling under the UN charter for wildlife.

Forget the Australian Navy or Sea Shepherd shutting down the Japanese whale poachers.
An international team is already forming to do it once and for all.

There is no difference from a poacher who kills a rhino, to one that kills a Fin Whale.
Equality for all