Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Chase is On

(Artist credit: Jeff Wilkie)

The decision recently by the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California to restrict Navy sonar usage off the California coast, might be implemented along the Eastern seaboard as well.

A beaked whale washed ashore on New Year's eve in Beach Haven, which has raised more concern about the Navy's use of sonar. It is suspected, but unproven, that this beaked whale died because of sonar due to no visible injuries or other signs pointing to its death.

As is well known on this issue, the usage of sonar has a potentially fatal effect on marine mammals. Sonar can cause a rupture of the inner ear and organs. It's also known to cause internal bleeding and disorientation. Once the damage occurs, death by beaching is common due to the disorientation the mammal experiences.

Naturally, the military denies that sonar does this and claims there is no evidence pointing to this as fact.

The attorney for the Natural Resources Defenses Council, Michal Jasny, disputes this and states: "The Navy will find itself alone in the scientific community with that conclusion."


"It's beyond dispute that sonar kills and injures whales. I think statements like that from the Navy do not help advance this issue," Jasny said. "It would be great if they spent more energy trying to develop a solution to this problem than to deny the clear scientific record."

Whales around the world have been found dead or dying following encounters with mid-frequency military sonar, according to Jasny.

In 2004, the world's leading whale biologists examined the link between Navy sonar and whale strandings and concluded that the evidence of sonar causation is "very convincing" and "overwhelming", a spokesman for the NRDC said.

While there is hope that the decision that was made in California will reach the East Coast, the Navy has filed an appeal of that Californian decision. Still, the process is in the works to make this a National Policy and Jasny is at the forefront in fighting the litigation on this matter.


"We have a companion case also before the same district court that challenges the Navy's violation of law on both coasts," Jasny said.

But for the litigation to have any impact on the Atlantic seaboard, Schoelkopf said, it would need modification. A 12 nautical mile coastal exclusion zone would not help whales such as the True's Beaked because they live further out in the ocean, he said.

"But I think it should be a national policy simply because we have the same problems with marine mammals coming up with the same unknown causes of death," Schoelkopf said.

Read the full article here: Whale Sets Off Debate Over Sonar

On the Japanese whaling front, Greenpeace's ship Esperanza, is still in close pursuit of the Nisshin Maru, Japan's main whaling ship.

As long as Greenpeace is running close by, the whalers are unable to do their killing because they are on the run. Greenpeace was able to find the whalers by following krill, the main diet of the whales.

One news article is calling this a "Deadly game of marine chess."

Greenpeace is behind the Nisshin Maru in pursuit while one of Japan's other ships, the Yushin Maru, is trailing behind.

Sea Shepherd claims to have spies within Greenpeace and they are in the same location the Nisshin Maru was "just hours ago." (This was as of yesterday.) Officially, Greenpeace has refused to provide the coordinates to the Sea Shepherd because they do not believe in Sea Shepherd's methods of protest.

Excerpt from the Sea Shepherd site:

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is with the Japanese fleet. Peter Hammarstedt, the 2nd officer of the Steve Irwin called the Esperanza to speak with the Captain but was informed that the Captain was sleeping and was not to be disturbed. Mr. Hammarstedt spoke with Karli Thomas the Greenpeace expedition leader and congratulated her on finding the Japanese fleet and said that since Sea Shepherd gave Greenpeace the coordinates last year would they repay the favor and provide Sea Shepherd with the coordinates this year? Ms. Thomas replied that as expedition leader she did not have the authority to release that information nor did the Captain of the Esperanza. She added that Greenpeace was withholding the information for security reasons.

Although The Captain of the Esperanza and the expedition leader are under strict orders by Greenpeace International to not release the coordinates to Sea Shepherd, Captain Watson is a co-founder of Greenpeace (1972) and co-founder of Greenpeace International (1979).

While I personally do not want to see anyone killed out there, I do support Captain Paul Watson's contention that both organizations could do far more good by working together than by fighting each other. This is a highly volitile issue and simply standing by is not going to save the whales. Intervention is necessary by any and all means possible, short of killing anyone of course.

This may be a terrible analogy to use, but it's one that comes to mind. In the Godfather II movie, in one of the flashback portions when Don Corleone was a young boy, his mother took him to the head Don of the local Mafia, pleading with him to spare her son's life. Of course, after listening to her, he said "No," and the mother was then killed while young Corleone ran away.

So simply asking the whalers to stop killing, is not going to do any good. It's been proven time and time again that Japan is not listening and they are standing behind their own hypocritical stance of scientific research.

The whaling expedition leader, Hajime Ishikawa, warned his crews on departure from Shimonoseki in Japan to expect violent environmental terrorists. "We must fight against their hypocrisy and lies," Mr Ishikawa said.

Japan defends its whaling under the International Whaling Commission's scientific research clause. Institute of Cetacean Research spokesman Glenn Inwood said Greenpeace's actions had caused a collision in the past and the IWC had asked them to cease and desist against Japan's legal research. "Greenpeace actions are illegal under international law," Mr Inwood said.

It's funny that Japan calls both the Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd organizations "eco terrorists" and also labels them "hypocrites" and "liars." Apparently Japan has a difficult time looking into their own mirrors and seeing their own hypocrisy and lies.

Meanwhile, Australia's Oceanic Viking ship, is yet to reach the Japan whalers. Critics are calling it a "ghost ship" and various environmental groups and supporters are in agreement that the Australian government is not living up to its promise to do more on this issue.


"We need to know how long it will be before the Australian government catches up with the Japanese whaling fleet."

Mr Hunt said the delay was not only ``a breach of faith'' to the Australian people but also the world.

"If you make a bold promise to the world and don't keep it, it sends a message to the Japanese that we are only kidding, we weren't serious and we were just playing a domestic game.

"It's vital if you make the promise to carry it through.''

Mr Hunt also called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to talk to the Japanese government directly about whaling.

"The single most important action has yet to be taken and that is for Mr Rudd to pick up the phone and speak to the Japanese prime minister (Yasuo Fukuda) person to person.

"Because at the end of the day any decisions will be made by the Japanese prime minister.''

The Antarctic is not the only place where Japan has it's hooks into whaling. Bermuda is a whale loving nation and a couple days ago, they put on an impressive demonstration in front of a Fisheries of Japan patrol boat docked at the Hamilton harbour front.

Read more here: Bermudians Deliver a Strong Message to Japan

Kudos to Bermuda!




  1. There seemed to be some progress in getting the Navy to stop using sonar in the Delaware Bay, along which I live, and in which I kayak. There are only a few whales, but many dolphins and I've seen harbor seals and harbor porpoises. I think 9/11 stopped the discussion, due to security reasons, of course.

  2. Yeah, of course. It's more important that they spend billions on security even when it's not needed than to worry about the environment, which we need :-P

    What a warped world we live in ...