Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Whale Politics

(Artist credit: Christian Lassen)

Yesterday, Greenpeace got between the Nisshin Maru and the refueling ship, Oriental Bluebird and for a time, prevented the refueling from happening. They were in their smaller boats running between these two big ships and the whalers were hosing them down with cold water, trying to prevent Greenpeace from interfering. The two ships eventually came side by side and it became too dangerous for the Greenpeace protesters to stay between them, so they had to give up and the Nisshin Maru was refueled.

Greenpeace alleges that the Oriental Bluebird ship did not have permits to be part of the whaling fleet. They radioed the Oriental Bluebird to inform them that they were violating an Antarctic treaty and also in violation of environmental law. That did nothing to dissuade them and they continued about their business in refueling the Japanese whaling ship.

Also as of yesterday, the
Sea Shepherd crew stated they were about "a day's sail" from the whalers but given the fact that the refueling would take up to approximately eight hours, they were making good time.

There have been reports that the Japanese whalers might suspend whaling until both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace leave the area since they'd have to leave within the next two weeks to refuel. But both organizations say that despite that, as long as they are able to stop the whaling, however temporarily, it cuts into Japan's whaling season as well as greatly diminishes how many whales Japan will kill. They expect Japan will not reach their goal to kill approximately 950 whales altogether.

On Monday,
Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to two Japanese economic organizations, pointing out that whaling was hurting the Japanese economy.

The letter basically pointed out that global opinion of Japan's whaling is hurting them and has the potential to hurt further economic ties they have in addition to possibly spurring boycotts of Japan products that are sold around the world.

However, it's not clear if all of what has been done to this date, will have an impact on changing Japan's stance on whaling. Especially in light of the fact that Japan plans to build a new ship that will pretty much enable them to continue whaling for another 40 years.

There does continue to be consumer, media, and political pressure on Japan to do something about this issue. Unfortunately, Japan is pretty much standing their ground and has not made any concessions that they'll be changing their minds on this issue any time soon. Doesn't matter that their whaling has a very small and insignificant impact on their economy as a whole. And personally, that amazes me. Why push an issue that is widely unpopular around the globe, that is a very small portion of Japan's overall economy, but one that could very well have a negative influence on the rest of their country?

Humane Society International hand delivered the rule of the law to the Japan whaling company yesterday. Not surprisingly, the company refused to accept it and said they were aware of the orders and are not abiding by them.

Humane Society Int'l had to leave the package at their feet instead and were told as they were leaving, that the package would be thrown out.
If the whaling continues, Japan could be found in contempt of court. But somehow, I doubt anything will really happen. Call me a cynic.

The reason I am not optimistic at this point, that anything will be done within the rule of this law, is due to the
economic relationship between Australia and Japan.

Both have stated that despite their differences on the whaling issue, they are in good shape and plan to continue their mutually beneficial partnership. You know what they say, money talks and bullshit walks.

Japan is pressuring Australia to press charges against the two Sea Shepherd crew members who boarded their ship last week and were detained. Australia claims that they'll be looking into the matter but otherwise, are not saying much else on the issue.

Despite all this bickering, the tensions, the protests, etc., it's now been over twelve days since any whales have been killed by Japan.

Elsewhere around the globe, there are at least other places that DO care about the marine mammals that live off their shores. Costa Rica is one.


Over the weekend the Costa Rican President Oscar Arias along with Environmental Minister Robert Dobles signed a decree that would protect whales and dolphins from being hunted in the large Costa Rican waters.

The decree details that any pursuit, capture, injury, netting or commercialization of any whale and dolphin groups in the Costa Rican sea boundaries is forbidden, and now against the law.

More here: Costa Rica Bans Whale and Dolphin Hunting

Is a Whale safe ship in the works to be designed? One whale researcher is strongly encouraging it.

Back to the issue of the Navy sonar court case in California, the state has filed another challenge to their sonar training off the California coast.

California officials argue that "Bush's waiver violates the separation-of-powers doctrine of the U.S. Constitution."
It's possible this will go to a higher court of appeals.

I am unclear if, while this is being argued in court, if the Navy is required to suspend their sonar training. They are scheduled to begin sonar training this week and have nine more scheduled exercises throughout the remainder of the year.
Let's hope the appeals court overrules President Bush on this matter.




  1. As always, it's a pleasure to catch up on the news on your site.

  2. Thank you HM :) I always appreciate how you take the time to leave a comment here ...