Sunday, October 11, 2009
The Pacific nation of Palau has created the world’s first shark sanctuary, a biological sanctuary to protect great hammerheads, leopard sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and more than 130 other species fighting extinction in the Pacific Ocean.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 29, 2009 – The Pacific nation of Palau has created the world’s first officially-recognized shark sanctuary, a biological sanctuary to protect great hammerheads, leopard sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks and more than 130 other species fighting extinction in the Pacific Ocean.
Johnson Toribiong, president of the island republic, said , “Palau will become the world’s first national shark sanctuary, ending all commercial shark fishing in our waters and giving a sanctuary for sharks to live and reproduce unmolested in our 237,000 square miles of ocean.”
President Toribiong’s announcement on the commercial shark-fishing ban came on September 25, 2009 at the United Nations General Assembly. He comments, “The strength and beauty of sharks are a natural barometer for the health of our oceans.”
During his address, President Toribiong called for a global ban on shark-finning and rallied for other nations to join the cause. Through his actions, along with those of the Palau Shark Sanctuary, President Toribiong has put Palau on the map in terms of global efforts to protect sharks.
Some might ask, “What is the motivation behind President Toribiong’s initiatives and his efforts to call upon support of these world-wide efforts?” Shark populations are in danger of demise because of limited protective measures, to date. As a matter of fact, shark fishing has grown rapidly since the mid-1980s, because of the rising demand for shark fin soup, a highly coveted expression of wealth. Sharks, in general, have a long life span and low fertility rates, which makes them vulnerable to extinction.
As a result, Palau formally established a protective zone to help preserve the predatory fish by protecting its 135 Western Pacific species of sharks and rays, considered endangered or vulnerable.
Dermot Keane, of the Palau Shark Sanctuary, “(We) Deeply commend President Toribiong for his international leadership in global efforts to protect sharks.” Keane continues, “We are very proud of President Toribiong and of Palau on this momentous occasion.”
Palau Shark Sanctuary was founded in 2001 in an effort to end the annihilation of Palau's sharks, which come as a result of rampant shark-finning at the hands of foreign long-line fishing vessels licensed by Palau to fish in their waters. Palau Shark Sanctuary seeks a declaration by Palau to establish the waters of Palau's Exclusive Economic Zone as a sanctuary for all sharks.
For more information about President Toribiong’s initiatives and the Palau Shark Sanctuary’s efforts, visit www.sharksanctuary.com. For those interested in speaking directly with the shark preservation activists in Palau, contact Dermot Keane of Palau Shark Sanctuary at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tova Harel Bornovski of Micronesia Shark Foundation at email@example.com.
Located in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, Palau is an archipelago of more than 586 islands with about 20,000 inhabitants. Consistently ranked as one of the world's best dive destinations, Palau is the ultimate paradise for the adventurous traveler, boasting some of the most spectacular water features and beaches as well as the world famous Rock Islands and Jellyfish Lake. With more than 1,400 species of fish and 500 species of coral, some have called Palau the "8th Natural Wonder of the World", while others have identified Palau as "One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World."* For more information about Palau, please visit www.visit-palau.com.
Palau is blessed with a wealth of biodiversity and natural resources. The Nation enjoys clean air, clean water, abundant marine life and healthy, productive coral reefs and native forests. Weaving these sources of natural and human wealth together is perhaps the most important resource of all: Tradition. Palauans maintain strong cultural ties to their land, waters and history. It is though these traditional ties that Palau strives to preserve and conserve all of its precious resources.
*According to Wikipedia, the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World was a list drawn up by CEDAM International, an American-based non-profit group for divers, dedicated to ocean preservation and research. In 1989, CEDAM brought together a panel of marine scientists, including Dr. Eugenie Clark, to pick underwater areas which the they considered to be worthy of protection.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
~C. David Coats, author of Old MacDonald's Factory Farm
Friday, May 8, 2009
The creatures, a few weighing over a ton, flow serenely past their admirers like celebrities on Rodeo Drive; some seem to enjoy the attention, and detour to court gentle touches and scratches along their scarred, leathery flanks. They're used to the commotion. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to Crystal River and other Florida refuges each year, hoping for a little schmooze time with these endangered, iconic mammals.
A few minutes ago I was part of the throng and met a manatee, whiskered nose to mask. Now I sit aboard the dive boat, shaking my head—awed by my point-blank encounter, and bemused by the almost surreal nature of the setting. Like most areas key to manatee survival, Crystal River lies enmeshed in a web of burgeoning coastal development: upscale homes and marinas, resorts and malls, all spreading with no apparent end in sight. Local waterways are crisscrossed by thousands of watercraft; lined by docks; tainted by runoff, subject to increasing human draw-down of vital freshwater springs. Millions of people live within a two-hour drive of all of Florida's critical manatee habitat.
And yet, somehow, almost miraculously, we have these enormous wild creatures surviving in our midst—a population estimated to exceed 3,800. But our ongoing expansion into their habitat begs the question: Are manatees, an endangered species whose numbers seem to be rising, truly on the rebound?
To put it mildly, manatees have been around a skosh longer than we have. The fossil record traces back their forebears in Florida at least 45 million years. To better take advantage of rich sea-grass beds and other vegetation, large, now-extinct wading mammals evolved into fully aquatic creatures with stout, nailed front flippers and paddle-shaped tails. Though manatees and their cousins, dugongs, most resemble walrus, they are in fact most closely related to elephants.
The manatee has been a conservation priority of Defenders' Florida staff for two decades. Among other accomplishments
Defenders was also instrumental in preventing the downlisting of the manatee by the state, and in convincing Florida officials to revisit their flawed imperiled species listing rule. Our work will help ensure that the manatee receives the state protections it needs.
Conserving important manatee habitat is central to Defenders' current work. Defenders and our allies are pressing federal officials to revise the manatee's 30-year-old critical habitat designation by more specifically identifying areas necessary for manatee survival. We are also advocating for the protection of natural springs and collaborating with industry representatives
Learn more about Defenders' work with manatees and how you can help.
The West Indian manatee is divided into two subspecies: the Florida and the Antillean. They can live for 60 or more years in the wild, and grow throughout their entire lives. While adults average 10 feet long and around a half ton, the current record (a captive female) tips the scales at a whopping 3,300 pounds. Manatees could teach us a thing or two about energy conservation; they typically mosey along at a sedate 3 to 5 mph, and spend the majority of their time eating and resting—prefera
Biologically speaking, manatees are generalists, able to live in both fresh and salt water, and to graze on a variety of plants. They eat up to 10 percent of their body weight a day. Some animals are homebodies, while others make regular annual migrations over hundreds of miles. Though most common in Florida, in warmer months manatees wander to neighboring states, and occasionally much farther. One individual swam up the Mississippi; others have traveled as far up the eastern seaboard as Massachusetts. But their range is limited by their inability to survive for extended periods in water colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The most recent north-
Even cautious advocates agree that Florida's manatees as a whole are faring better than they were a generation ago. Says aquatic biologist Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save The Manatee Club, based in Maitland, Florida, "Statewide, numbers are up in three of four populations. In that sense, we've made progress."
Florida's manatees are divided into four distinct stocks. Three of these—the Northwest (including Crystal River), the upper St. John's and the Atlantic—are growing or stable. The Southwest, comprising around 40 percent of Florida's entire stock, seems to be declining. Rose says that protective statutes and regulations have also improved; a 2001 settlement of two lawsuits, brought by a coalition of conservation groups (including Defenders of Wildlife) against federal and state management agencies, has established slow-speed boating zones and sanctuaries in critical habitat, and imposed restrictions on coastal development in sensitive areas.
While manatee advocates applaud these protections, they say enforcement remains inconsistent and violations are commonplace. Last year, a video widely viewed on YouTube showed a boatload of people harassing mothers with calves and even walking on animals.
Still, public concern and support seems on the rise. A 2007 University of Florida study of boaters—a group historically resistant to manatee-
At Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in north-central Florida, as many as 400 elementary school students a day come for manatee education starring captive animals in a natural setting. Says wildlife care supervisor Susan Lowe as a group of excited fourth-graders watch manatees feed and interact with a keeper, "Here's where we can make a real, lasting difference."
In fact, Florida's manatees have been doing so well, according to the pro-boating and recreational fishing Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), that in 2001 they petitioned Florida agencies to downlist the manatee from "endangered" to "threatened" under controversial new state guidelines. After strong opposition from Defenders and other conservation organizations and prominent scientists, the state reclassificatio
Despite welcome progress, the future of the species is far from assured. A 2007 study by the U.S. Geological Survey for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stresses that the manatee's long-term prospects hinge not on present conditions, but on those in the future. Despite improved regulation and awareness, human activity—especi
A majority of adult manatees bear the scars of repeated, often gruesome maimings from hulls and propellers; some dead animals show evidence of having survived more than 50 collisions. "Manatees have especially dense, un-resilient bones, and they shatter like porcelain," says Lowe, whose facility is one of a handful statewide that helps rehabilitate injured manatees. "But these animals are capable of absorbing incredible impacts. Some manage to live with ribs or even parts of organs protruding through their skin."
Over the past decade, the recorded death toll from boat collisions alone has averaged almost 80 individuals a year. Add to that the number of manatees unable to reproduce or care for young due to injury, and the seriousness of just this single factor looms huge. Says Elizabeth Fleming, Florida representative for Defenders of Wildlife, "While the results of the recent count seem encouraging, the manatee's future is far from secure given the looming threat of loss of warm-weather habitat." She points out that the viability of the species hinges on the number of reproducing females—almost certainly, fewer than half that total. Also, the low genetic diversity of Florida's manatees suggests potential problems, including vulnerability to disease.
Humans have long impacted manatee survival rates; Native Americans hunted them, and settlers sought them for their meat and skins. Killing manatees was declared illegal in 1893, and subsequent federal and state laws established further safeguards. Still, 2006 set a record for confirmed manatee deaths from all causes: 417, more than 10 percent of the estimated population. 2005 ranked second, and while 2008's count decreased to 337, it included 90 confirmed deaths from watercraft strikes—second only to 2005. Though protections have greatly increased in recent years, so has the death toll.
The greatest long-term threat to manatees is loss of warm-water refuges for over-wintering animals. As freshwater springs are tapped for increasing human use, vital winter habitat for manatees constricts. And, as coastal power plants and other industrial warm-water discharge sources (used by hundreds of manatees) become obsolete and are decommissioned,
Economic downturn or no, Florida is experiencing explosive growth, much of it from people attracted to manatee habitat. According to a 2007 state report, the state's human population increased by 65 percent between 1985 and 2007; in roughly that same period, boat registrations in Florida increased 59 percent. Currently, there are nearly a million registered watercraft in the state—roughly one for every 20 Floridians, and, more important, 300 for every manatee. That's not counting an estimated 350,000 non-Florida registered watercraft plying the state's waterways. In short, motor-driven boats—the manatee's most immediate threat—are multiplying far faster than the animals themselves.
If you're willing to wade through raw science and graphs, the results of the 2007 U.S. Geological Survey analysis are sobering. According to the study, the chances of manatee populations declining over the next century to 500 individuals on either the Gulf or Atlantic coast is potentially 50 percent if major threats (boat strikes and loss of warm-water habitat primarily) stay the same. However, if the number of watercraft deaths doubles over that time—as it well might—the odds of such a decline skyrocket to 95 percent. Under the same scenario, the chance of a plummet to a population of 250 or fewer individuals on either coast in the next 100 years is calculated at 55 percent; to a population of 150 or fewer animals, 25 percent.
The report's analysis of the projected impact of warm-water refuge loss is no more comforting. The worst-case scenario—a doubling of boat strikes plus a more-
In short, if we're to ensure the survival of this unique species, maintaining the status quo is not an option. Says Patrick Rose, "We need to push for consistent, continued enforcement and protection to avoid playing catch-up 20 years from now." Adds Laurie Macdonald, Florida program director for Defenders, "We have it within our grasp to promote healthy populations of manatees now and in the future. We just need to make sure we're doing all we can to address their essential needs."
One fact is certain: the fate of this gentle, iconic creature, totally willing and able to abide in our midst, lies squarely in our hands.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Tao is the law of nature,
Which you can't depart from even
For one instant.
If you could depart from it,
It wouldn't be the Tao.
Thus the mature person looks into
Their own heart and respects what
Is unseen and unheard.
Nothing is more manifest than the hidden;
Nothing is more obvious than the unseen.
Thus the mature person pays
Attention to what is happening
In the innermost self.
Friday, March 20, 2009
This week, member nations of the International Whaling Commission are meeting in Rome to discuss a proposal by the United States that would allow Japan to legally slaughter endangered whales in the North Pacific in exchange for a reduction in the quota of whales that are presently being killed illegally in the Southern Ocean.
The United States has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists and they should not be negotiating with poachers. The Japanese whaling industry is a criminal organization that targets endangered whales in an established international whale sanctuary. To allow Japan to legally kill whales in the North Pacific is to reward Japan for illegally killing whales in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific as they have been doing since 1986.
The man is a disgrace to conservation and a disgrace to our nation. It appears as if this man has no recollection regarding his previous statements.Unregulated Whaling
Many issues need to be resolved at the IWC. One very serious problem is the fact that
unregulated scientific and commercial whaling is occurring.
The moratorium on commercial whaling is a needed conservation measure to protect
Whales. However, given the continuation of whales being killed for commercial purposes
since the moratorium took effect in 1986, it has become clear that the moratorium may
not be enough to achieve the long-term conservation and policy goals of the United
Article 8 of the ICRW allows member countries unilaterally to grant Special Permits to
kill, take, and treat whales for the purpose of scientific research. Although Iceland,
Japan, and Norway have used this provision at different times since the commercial
Whaling moratorium took effect in 1986; Japan is currently the only member country
conducting lethal scientific research. Although scientific whaling is legal under the
ICRW, many countries including the United States question the necessity of the lethal
research for IWC purposes and object to commercial sale of the meat derived from the
research programs. The commercial sale of such meat is allowed under the ICRW.
Scientific research whaling is not regulated by the IWC and has been responsible for the
largest increase in the take of whales over the past ten years. In 1998, approximately 300
Whales were taken through scientific research whaling. Since then, this number has
increased to more than 1,000 per year. The United States has continued to strongly
oppose research whaling programs and believes that most scientific data needed to
improve the management and to promote the recovery of large whale populations can be
collected through non-lethal means.
Despite more than two decades of international condemnation and IWC criticism of lethal
research programs, the practice has escalated. The IWC has examined the problem of
scientific whaling for many years, and has found no easy solution. In order to prohibit
scientific whaling through legal means, a change to the ICRW would be necessary, or
relevant countries would need to enter into a separate binding international side
agreement with regard to scientific whaling.
Small-Type Coastal Whaling
Every year since 1987, Japan has proposed a Schedule amendment to allow small-type
Coastal whaling (STCW) for four coastal whaling operations, but these proposals have
consistently failed to gain the necessary three-quarters majority needed for approval. The
United States and many other IWC members have not supported Japan%u2019s STCW proposal
because of the commercial nature of the proposal and because Japan%u2019s STCW proposal is
not based on review and input from the IWC%u2019s Scientific Committee. Any proposal for
the commercial harvest of whales should at least be based on recommendations of the
IWC%u2019s Scientific Committee, using the Revised Management Procedure for setting catch
limits. No RMP-determined catch limits have been established for the stocks at issue in
South Atlantic Sanctuary
The ICRW provides for the establishment of closed areas for the purpose of fostering the
conservation and recovery of whale stocks. The United States was a major sponsor of the
Southern Ocean Sanctuary adopted by the IWC in 1994. Since 2000, there have been
efforts to establish a South Atlantic Sanctuary to complement the Southern Ocean
Sanctuary. The United States continues to support the establishment of this sanctuary, as
it promotes the conservation and recovery of whale stocks.
Sanctuaries generally provide opportunities to conduct non-lethal research on undisturbed
Whale stocks, including studies on their life history and population dynamics. The status
of most major whale stocks is either still depleted or unknown. Therefore, it is imperative
that the IWC make further efforts to establish sanctuaries and maintain existing ones to
allow for full recovery of all the great whale stocks.
The Future of the IWC
The IWC%u2019s polarization is compromising its ability to properly conserve and manage
cetaceans. This is not surprising, considering the very nature of the ICRW%u2019s objective to
conserve whales and manage their harvest, which does not lend itself well to consensus
or even the required three-quarters majority for Schedule changes. At the 59th annual
meeting in Anchorage, the IWC decided to begin discussions regarding the %u201CFuture of the
IWC%u201D through an intercessional meeting that was held in March and at the upcoming 60th
annual meeting of the IWC.
The United States is committed to participating in discussions on the future of the IWC,
and believes the IWC should be preserved as the premiere international forum for
resolving current conservation issues, coordinating critical research, and developing
international agreement on whale conservation. It is imperative that the IWC achieve a
stronger level of functionality for the future conservation and management of the great
The United States supports discussions on the future of the IWC because we believe the
lethal use of whales must be regulated and monitored by the IWC as the only relevant
international management body. The discussion at the 60th annual meeting regarding the
%u201CFuture of the IWC%u201D is intended to address the difficulties within the IWC and thereby
strengthen the body, and the United States will participate in these discussions. The
discussion may lead to an intercessional process following the meeting where major
substantive issues are identified for negotiation and possible resolution at IWC61 in
2009. The Administration will need to evaluate the results of that process before
determining whether to lend U.S. support to any particular outcome.
In closing, Madam Chair, I would like to state that the United States%u2019 position on whale
conservation and management has not changed. We continue to support the moratorium
on commercial whaling and will continue our efforts to end lethal scientific research
whaling. Moreover, we will actively participate in discussions on the future of the IWC
to ensure that body%u2019s effectiveness in ensuring the conservation and management of the
great whales. I would like to thank the Subcommittee members and your staff for
supporting the conservation and management of whales.
These are your words Mr. Hogarth!
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Captain Paul Watson Responds to Former Australian Environment Minister Barry Cohen
With former Australian Environment MinisterIan Campbell on the Advisory Board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,
The present Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett has called on another
former Environment Minister from the distant past to attack the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and myself, which he did recently in an editorial to The Australian newspaper.
Barry Cohen was Federal Minister for the Environment from 1983 to 1987.
I have responded to the points made by Mr. Cohen in the editorial below.
Barry Cohen | March 16, 2009
Article from The Australian
Barry Cohen: IF you had told me a few weeks ago that I would represent Australia at the Pew Whales Symposium in Portugal, I would have recommended the resumption of medication.
I accepted the invitation from Peter Garrett because I was interested in seeing what progress had been made in bringing whaling to a halt since I held the environment portfolio 22 years ago
Captain Paul Watson: Absolutely no progress has been made in halting or even slowly down illegal whaling activities since 1986, the year the global moratorium on whaling was initiated. Mr. Cohen did not need to go to Portugal to find this out. Everyone who knows anything about the history of whaling and specifically the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese, Norwegians and Icelanders knows very well that the numbers have steadily increased during the whaling moratorium instead of decreasing. The quota in 1986 was set at zero, yet thousands of whales have been slaughtered over the last 22 years.
Barry Cohen: I have fond memories of the anti-whaling organisation Project Jonah, as it was the only environment group that had a good word to say about me during my 1983-87 stint. Greens are a hard mob to satisfy.
Captain Paul Watson: There really was not much that could have been said about Mr. Cohen at the time. He did nothing then and he is doing nothing now but going to a meeting to discover what everyone already knows. Project Jonah by the way was co-founded by Farley Mowat, the present international chair of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
So it appears that Mr. Cohen liked Mr. Mowat then but not now. Farley Mowat has consistently been involved with defending whales whereas Mr. Cohen had recently re-discovered his interest because Peter Garrett offered him a job. As for Greens being a hard lot to satisfy all I can say is give us clean air, clean water, no poisons in our food, and stop slaughtering endangered species and clear-cutting our forests and we will be satisfied indeed. We are however not satisfied with political rhetoric and posturing.
Barry Cohen: During my reign as tsar of all the oceans, Australia was a leading force in getting the International Whaling Commission to ban commercial whaling. Unfortunately, scientific research on whales was not banned, enabling the Japanese to take up to 1000 whales a year to discover what the whales ate. And, to everyone's surprise, the whale products were sold for human consumption.
Captain Paul Watson: Australia indeed was a leading voice in bringing about the moratorium as were many non-governmental organizations. But what is the point of banning commercial whaling if commercial whaling continues to flourish by Iceland, Norway and Japan.
And who was surprised? We all knew that scientific whaling was just a front for commercial whaling and how is “scientific” whaling even justified in an established whale sanctuary and how does “scientific” whaling justify the slaughter of endangered Fin and Humpback whales.
How many more whales must Japan kill to discover what we already know they eat.
I was not aware that Mr. Cohen was Tsar of all the Oceans. I was not even aware there was such a position. If so he was a very feeble Tsar because for the last 22 years, the whales have been illegally slaughtered.
Barry Cohen: The purpose of this scientific research has never been fully explained. As a result, during the intervening 22 years, while there has been significant recovery in stocks of some species of whale, the position of the pro and anti-whaling forces hasn't changed.
Captain Paul Watson: The purpose of the “scientific research” does not need to be explained because there never has been any validity to it. It has always been a commercial activity. I am happy to see that Mr. Cohen agrees with us that the slaughter of the whales by the Japanese whaling fleet is illegal.
Barry Cohen: The only other constant has been the meetings of whaling bodies who feed their views into the IWC. Politicians past and present, bureaucrats, lawyers, scientists and activists attend endless conferences that move forward glacially.
Captain Paul Watson: He is absolutely right on this point.
Barry Cohen: The Lisbon gathering prepared material to present to the IWC annual meeting in Madeira in June. Learned scientific and legal papers were presented to commissioners who mostly lacked the background to evaluate them.
I've never seen so many glazed eyes in one room in my life - mine included.
What surprised me was that no one tackled the fundamental question: to whale
or not to whale. Many seemed happy to dance around the issue and maintain the
Captain Paul Watson: This is of course due to a decision put forward by IWC Chair William Hogarth and agreed to by Australian Environment Minster Peter Garrett to not ruffle any feathers at the IWC meeting in Santiago, Chile in June 2008. Former Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell was far more forceful in getting Japan to respond with attempts to defend their illegal whaling activities.
Barry Cohen: As the conference drew to a close I decided some plain talking was needed.
There were, I said, two irreconcilable positions. The pro-whaling countries - Japan, Norway, Iceland - believe that whales are a sustainable resource that can be utilised in the same way as any other animal. The anti-whalers, mainly affluent Western societies, have elevated whales to a status only marginally behind humans: an intelligent animal entitled to permanent protection. And that is attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. We are talking different languages.
Captain Paul Watson: The anti whaling nations include Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, South Africa and many other nations that are not affluent or Western, so this is not an accurate assessment. The whale has not been “elevated” as an intelligent animal “only marginally behind humans.” The whale IS an intelligent, highly sociable, sentient being, self aware with communication skills far surpassing human beings. The whale is entitled to permanent protection. To argue otherwise is to condone murder.
Additionally no slaughterhouse on the planet would be tolerated if they killed any animal in the manner that whales are slaughtered. Last month we timed and filmed a Minke whale thrashing in agony in it’s own blood for 25 minutes. A video like that taken in an abattoir would close the place down.
As for talking different languages, the fact remains that commercial whaling is illegal. Killing endangered whales is illegal and killing whales in an established whale sanctuary is illegal. This is like saying we should be more understanding of bank robbers because they speak a different language and have a different perspective on life and morality. The bottom line is the law is the law and the Japanese whaling fleet is in violation of numerous treaties, resolutions, laws and agreements.
Barry Cohen: I felt a certain sympathy for the Japanese even though I disagreed totally with their position. It's not so long ago that the Japanese view of whaling was held universally.
Captain Paul Watson: How can any person who professes to respect the law feel sympathy for a criminal operation? Again should we feel sorry for a bank robber or a rapist although we disagree with their crimes. Yes, whaling was a sin practiced by many nations for centuries. Australia
ended whaling in 1978. However this is the 21st Century and we live
in an era of greater environmental awareness and thus to kill whales today is both willfully ignorant and arrogant.
Barry Cohen: The Japanese see anti-whalers as irrational, emotional and hypocritical. They point out that we are happy to slaughter billions of animals - including, until recently, whales - when it suits our needs and tastes, while denying the same rights to them.
Captain Paul Watson: I’m sure the mafia view the cops as irrational, emotional and hypocritical but that does not make their crime legitimate. Most Japanese have little interest in whaling. Those Japanese who do support whaling are accomplices in a criminal operation. It is not irrational, emotional or hypocritical to oppose a criminal operation. When Australia killed whales, they did so legally whereas Japan is doing so illegally. That is a big difference.
As for the slaughter of other animals I have two points. One, no domestic animal is slaughtered as brutally and in such abject agony as the whale. Secondly, none of my crew or I eat animals and in a truly civilized world humans should be vegetarians. Now Cohen may call that fanatical, but I
prefer being called a fanatic over being called a hypocrite.....
Barry Cohen: We also ignore their cultural customs and history when it suits us.
Captain Paul Watson: This is not about culture or history. It is about enforcing international conservation law.
Barry Cohen: I hate to admit it, but they are right. I said, however, that no matter how irrational, emotional and hypocritical, we were we were not going to change. That has, for a long time, been the view of successive Australian governments, including the present one. That being the case, what was the point of continuous meetings to make such little progress?
Captain Paul Watson: I dispute this most vigorously. Mr. Cohen is wrong. International law can be and must be enforced Australia could enforce the law against Japan by taking Japan to court as Environment Minister Peter Garrett promised to do before he was elected. Sanctions could be invoked. Australia could shut down whaling tomorrow by denying Japan wood chips, uranium or iron ore. The truth is that the present
Australian government does not want to back up an anti-whaling position with any muscle at all. The Australian government is instead giving lip service to the issue to appease the Australian people and allowing Japan to do whatever Japan wishes to do with the whales. After 22 years of “diplomacy”, Australia has not convinced Japan to lower their quotas.
Barry Cohen: I concluded by saying that while the anti-whalers' views left a lot to be desired, the whaling nations' case was even weaker. All the evidence suggests that as an economic activity whaling is a disaster. In Japan it is kept alive only with considerable government support.
Captain Paul Watson: I certainly agree with Mr. Cohen on this point.
Barry Cohen: Also, it is not essential for the survival of the Japanese: they are not short of tucker. Whale meat is, at best, a delicacy enjoyed by the elite, who were not even eating all the whale meat made available from "scientific research". Instead it was being stockpiled due to lack of demand. However irrational we might be, the Japanese position seemed very odd indeed.
Why then is Japan whaling in the face of such concerted opposition? There is only one possible reason Japan will not be bullied into abandoning whaling. And who can blame the Japanese? It became obvious that they were none too pleased with Kevin Rudd's threat, before the 2007 election, to take them to the International Court of Justice. And the appalling behaviour on the high seas by Paul Watson..
and the Sea Shepherd has simply made the Japanese more determined to continue.
Captain Paul Watson: So according to Mr. Cohen, Japan is continuing to kill whales because of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. According to Mr. Cohen, attempting to defend whales is “appalling behaviour.”
Incredible! Preventing Japan from killing half their illegal quota for the last two years is “appalling.”
My crew and I have not injured a single whaler nor have we been charged with any crime yet the Japanese fill the seas with literally tons of blood and our actions in trying to stop this illegal atrocity, he considers appalling. We toss rotten butter on their decks and block their operations and they throw concussion grenades, chunks of metal, golf balls and hit us with water cannons, acoustical weapons and shoot at us and Mr. Cohen finds their actions understandable and our actions “appalling.”
Japan was killing whales illegally from 1988 until now yet Sea Shepherd was only able to raise the support to intervene beginning in 2002. Who was "bullying" Japan before we intervened. This is ridiculous for Mr. Cohen to accuse Sea Shepherd of being the reason for Japanese intransigence.
Mr. Cohen should come down to the remote and hostile waters off Antarctica to see for himself the atrocities we have to confront. It’s easy to dismiss us from the comfort of his armchair and it is easy for him to spout off about things he knows absolutely nothing about, but the reality is that he has no idea of the obstacles we must face in our defense of the whales.
Barry Cohen: The Pew conference did advance the protection of whales a little. There was near unanimous agreement regarding the cessation of whaling in the southern oceans. Should that be accepted in Madeira, it would effectively be the end of whaling, with only a small number taken by indigenous peoples in the North Atlantic. Only one of the commissioners demurred. No prize for guessing his nationality.
Captain Paul Watson: The Sea Shepherd campaigns on the other hand have advanced the protection of whales a great deal. Over a thousand whales are swimming free because we intervened. In my book, that’s called saving whales. There is already an established whale
sanctuary in the Southern Oceans and it has not ended whaling. Mr. Cohen does not seem to understand the situation. Whale Sanctuaries do not translate into protection when whales continue to be slaughtered in sanctuaries. Every whale the Japanese kill in the Southern Ocean is inside the boundaries of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary or inside the boundaries of the Australia Whale Sanctuary.
Barry Cohen: There is only one way to resolve the problem. If the Japanese, without admitting they were wrong, were to announce that they were ceasing whaling, it would be seen as an act of generosity and one of the most courageous environmental decisions of all time. They should do it not because we have bullied them into it, but because they want to do it. I concluded: "Pander to our emotions."
Captain Paul Watson: The Japanese whaling industry is a Yakusa controlled operation riddled with corruption and scandal. They will not pander to anyone’s emotions unless they can make money out of it. What the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is doing is speaking the
language they understand and that is profit and loss. We have been negating their profits year after year – that is the key to shutting them down. They are already some fifty million dollars in debt and that debt is rising because of our interventions. Mr. Cohn and Mr. Garrett refuse to see the truth in this strategy.
Why are the Japanese so angry with us and why are they becoming increasingly more violent towards us? The answer is that we are hurting them where they feel it the most, in their bank accounts.
Our actions may be “appalling” to Mr. Cohen but the reality is that our strategy is working. The Japanese whaling fleet is on the ropes economically and we intend to knock them out of the ring. Mr. Cohen on the other hand wants to wipe the sweat from their brow, give them a drink, revive them and send them back into the ring with us “bullies” to continue the fight.
The whales need the whalers to throw in the towel and giving aid and comfort to the whale killers is not good conservation – it is appeasement.