Japanese whaling stops, temporarily


This video is called Close Encounter with Minke Whale in Antarctica.

From Wildlife Extra:

Reduced Japanese whaling fleet departs to conduct scientific studies

A smaller than usual Japanese whaling fleet recently left port in Shimonoseki to carry out research in the Antarctic – but no whales will be harpooned after the World Court ruled last year that Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean was illegal.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency announced that a reduced number of boats will instead head to the Antarctic to carry out sighting surveys, biopsy work and photo identification of whales led by the country’s Institute of Cetacean Research.

Two catcher boats, without their harpoons, departed first and will be joined by Japan’s factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, which sets off on 16 January, for the non-lethal research which is expected to last until 28 March.

An International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in March 2014 ensured that for the first season in more than a century, whales in the Southern hemisphere were not be hunted for commercial purposes.

However, despite its initial vow to abide by the ICJ decision, and current moves to carry out non-lethal research, in November last year the Japanese government revealed details of a new proposal, called NEWREP-A, which would see 333 minke whales harpooned in the name of science in the Southern Ocean from later this year. Conservation organisations have urged Japan to withdraw this proposal.

Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Programme Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says: “While we congratulate Japan on its shift towards humane, non-lethal research on whales and welcome the fact that no whales will be slaughtered in the Southern Ocean this season, sadly Japan has not discarded its harpoons for good.

“Japan’s new whaling plan fails utterly to meet the standard established by the World Court or to live up to the earlier rhetoric of Japanese officials. Japan needs to acknowledge that its cruel and unnecessary whaling must stop once and for all.”

Japan’s new whaling plans are set to be examined by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) when it meets in San Diego in the US in May. The IWC strongly backed the ICJ ruling when member countries met in Slovenia in September.

Whale news, good and bad


This video is about whales.

From Wildlife Extra:

Victory and defeat for whales at the 65th International Whaling Conference

Sperm whales were one of the whale species that Japan was previously able to kill on the grounds of scientific research in the Antarctic

The 65th International Whaling Conference meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia – which saw the attendance of more than 60 member countries – was something of an emotional roller-coaster for those involved, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), with victory and defeat on both sides of the table.

Pivotal milestones were achieved toward the conservation and preservation of whales, with a resolution being passed to provide increased protection and support to whales, and a further ruling that Japan’s ‘scientific whaling’ in Antarctica was illegal, with no further permits to be issued in the future.

The resolution by Monaco on Highly Migratory Species aims to provide greater global protection for whales, allowing international bodies such as the UN to become involved. This victory was made despite pro-whaling countries opposing it. Japan prevented the resolution being passed by consensus, forcing a vote to take place, which went through 37 to 15, with seven abstentions.

IFAW Whales Programme Director Patrick Ramage said: “We are delighted that this important conservation measure for whales has been passed, showing that small countries can make big waves for whales at the IWC. We were pleased to see the pro-conservation countries stand together to adopt a common position and give it safe passage. We were also relieved to see that the EU was able to get its act together and support it as a bloc.”

There was further victory for whales as Japan’s so-called scientific whaling in Antarctica was ruled illegal, with no further permits to be issued. This news was of course not welcomed by Japan, who recently sent an email out to scientists around the world asking for international help to review its plans for a new ‘scientific whaling’ programme.

Ramage commented on the result, saying: “We are delighted by this crucial victory for whales. After the recent historic World Court ruling it begged the question of whether the IWC would be up to the challenge of imposing court-ordered standards for scientific whaling or content to stand on the sidelines while Japan continued commercial whaling by another name.

“This measure goes a long way in securing the full promise of the ICJ judgment which gives whales in Antarctica protection against slaughter for the first time in more than a century. We now urge Japan to call a permanent end to its illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.”

Although the two victories were greatly welcomed by IFAW and pro-conservationists, there was dismay as plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary failed due to opposition from pro-whaling nations.

The proposal – which was put forward by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa, and new sponsor Gabon – aimed to provide a comprehensive approach to cetacean conservation, managing all threats to whales in the region.

After the resolution was pushed to vote by pro-whaling countries, it failed to achieve the three-quarters majority needed for adoption (40-18 against and two abstentions).

A proposal for this sanctuary has been tabled at nearly every IWC meeting since 1999, but has stalled every time. A small consolation is that this year was the closest that a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary had come to adoption, according to the Brazilian Commissioner.

“This valuable conservation proposal has sadly failed once again because of the influence of countries outside the relevant South Atlantic region,” said Ramage. “Non-lethal research on whales in this particular area, as elsewhere, has provided much more reliable and precise information than has ever been achieved by so-called ‘scientific whaling’ or other lethal methods.

“It is very disappointing that such a positive opportunity for whales has been harpooned again by Japan and her allies.”

To read the IFAW CEO Azzedine T Downes’ column on the whaling conference click here.

Leading ethical travel agent Responsibletravel.com have put together a guide to whale-friendly tourism, outlining the ways in which people can take responsible whale watching trips that will result in supporting and protecting vulnerable whale species: here.

Marine conservation writing competition for young people


This video is called Earthrace – R.I.P – Tribute.

From Wildlife Extra:

Conservationist Pete Bethune launches a writing competition for young people

New Zealander, Pete Bethune, founder of marine conservation organisation, Earthrace, has set a challenge for all young ocean activists around the world.

His aim is to encourage a growing network of children and young people from around the world who care about preserving and protecting the oceans by launching a writing competition.

First prize is a model remote control replica of Pete’s Earthrace boat which broke the round the world speed record in 2008 but was sunk by Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 2010.

Apart from being a world-record holder for the fastest trip around the world in a powerboat, Pete has become a passionate supporter of marine life conservation as a result of his experiences on that trip. He is the author of two best-selling books, one of which, Whale Warrior, covers his time in Antarctica.

Pete is also the founder of the Earthrace Junior Activists Club, which began in 2008 and is run by Earthrace volunteers Alison Banks, Natalie Borghardt and Junior Activist Captain, 17-year-old Zach Affolter.

There are now over 1,200 young members who all share a passion to help protect the oceans and marine life.

“I can tell from the many letters, emails and messages that I receive from children and young people all over the world that they are as concerned about the state of the oceans as I am,” Pete said. “I hope this challenge will encourage many more young people to really think about what the oceans mean to them and to take actions to help protect them.

“Their words will inspire others of all ages to follow their lead and begin to understand how important marine life and the environment are for all us, whether or not we live near the ocean or not.”

The competition

Pete is asking anyone up to the age of 18 to submit an essay or short story of no more than 500 words based on ‘what the oceans mean to me’.

There are four age categories for the ocean writing challenge: Under 10; 10-12 years, 13-15 years; and 16-18 years.

As well as the main prize of the Earthrace remote control boat, there are more prizes to be won in the shape of a remote control shark, signed copies of Pete’s book Whale Warrior, Junior Activist t-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, signed posters, plush Maui’s dolphin toys and wristbands.

Entries should be sent by email to alison@earthrace.net by the closing date of 31 August 2014.

All entries must include the name of the author, age, email address and mailing address.

All winners will be notified no more than one month after the closing date and the winning entries will be posted on the Earthrace Junior Activist Facebook page and published in a future issue of the Earthrace online magazine, Our Backyard.For more information visit the Earthrace Junior Activists Club page at www.earthraceconservation.org/eco-junior-activist-club.