Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poachers in the Southern Ocean. Government in West Australia

Hello everyone it's been quite a while hasn't it? Well to be honest with you all I've spent the time between my last blog and now doing a wide variety of things from school work to digging around for something new to blog about to working in general to various other things. Over the last few days though a couple things have come up that have stood out to me as noteworthy recent events. So as I blow the dust off the keyboard here, let us take a look into what is going on.

Lets start with a quick not on dolphins. Things are pretty much as they have been in the world of dolphins as far as how it pertains to this blog. Taiji continues to slaughter and make insane profits off of various species of dolphin.  The fight to see the killings in the cove of Taiji, Japan continues to roar on. Sadly, the killers continue to perform their slaughter with absolutely no remorse or regard for the animals they hunt. I've documented what goes on in Taiji a great deal in earlier blogs, so for now there is something else I want to address in relation to this blog and dolphins. I am no longer following one of the movements that I was following earlier this year as a result of various issues that I am not going to address here, so I apologize if you are still looking for information on that particular movement, but I will not be discussing it any further. Stay tuned though as more dolphin related things are sure to surface here!

Now that that little bit of business is taken care of, lets move onto the main portion of this blog. I feel like the following is something out of a video game or movie.
 Location: West Australia.
Objective: Catch and kill a great white shark
Reason for objective: Shark swam too close to a beach.
How to we find the shark: The tag.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, West Australia is once again on the hunt for a shark. This time they are on a hunt for a shark that has a tracking tag on it that simply swam close to a beach. The shark has not bit anyone, it has only swam near a beach. To me that sounds like something in a game where you place a tracking beacon on an enemy to hunt them down later. Same idea it sounds like. Back to reality though. How is West Australia trying to catch this shark? Well by deploying drumlines of course. The government has placed drumlines out over the past few days in the area in which the shark had been detected. So far the shak has not been caught.... However..... In a photo that can be seen on Western Australians for Shark Conservation Inc's Facebook page, you can see that another shark has been caught.
The shark in the picture is a tiger shark. The photo is a harrowing reminder of the cull that took place last year in which over 100 tiger sharks were killed. This shark was released with the hook still through the shark's skull. The government views the great white as an imminent threat. I understand that the presence of a great white along a shoreline can be a bit intimidating, but how and animal chasing snapper and seals around is an imminent threat I'll never know. Should they have closed the beaches? Yes, that is the only way to say 100% that the shark or any other animal that lives in the ocean and has gills will never bite anyone. We're talking about a fish doing what a fish does. We are not talking about a monster hunting for human flesh along the coast.

Apparently some kind of deal has been reached in West Australia that allows the state to take action against a shark if it posses an imminent threat or has attacked someone. This agreement came to be sometime after the EPA ruled against the state's shark cull back in September. Yet here we are at a time of year where great whites return to West Australia to hunt fish and seal and the drumlines are in the water. By the logic of the government, every shark should be considered an imminent threat. To me this whole scenario is just another way for the government to establish what they want, a way to kill sharks. Now not only do they have the drumlines, but fancy tracking tags that they say are used only to act as a tracking device to increase public safety (hunting device sounds better to me). I hope that this shark that keeps popping up close to shore continues to avoid the drumlines and make the West Australian Government look like a bunch of foolish children who are overreacting about a shark minding it's own business. Just when you think the West Australian Government couldn't overreact about sharks any more than they had in the past.....

Now to a developing story from the Southern Ocean. In light of Japan not conducting whale poaching in the Southern Ocean this year, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society set out to tackle illegal toothfish fishing in the same area. The conservation group sent two ships, the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon down to the Southern Ocean to fight against toothfish poaching. It is believed that there are 6 toothfish poaching vessels operating in the Southern Ocean. The Bob Barker has confronted one of the vessels named "Thunder" and the response from Australia, New Zealand, and France has been disappointing to say the least. The "Thunder" currently has an Interpol Purple notice out on it for illegal fishing activities as can be seen here.

The 'Thunder', which Sea Shepherd claims is illegally fishing in the Southern Ocean.

As you can see from the photo above, this vessel is in fact the "Thunder". Sea Shepherd notified New Zealand, Australia, and France as to the whereabouts of the vessel and the poaching that it was doing when they found it, but the response from New Zealand was simply "show restraint". That is where we are in the world of protecting threatened ocean life. Here you have a fishing vessel with an Interpol notice and restraint and caution is the way to go in dealing with them? Regular fishermen have applauded Sea Shepherd for finding this vessel and yet the governments fail in their job of delivering justice. So here is the scenario now. On one side Sea Shepherd won't back down. If they do the illegal ("ILLEGAL") fishing will resume. On the other side, the crew of the "Thunder" are only going to keep running for so long. The vessel apparently sent out a distress signal to three other poaching vessels in the area which may now be en route to back the "Thunder" up. Meanwhile the Sam Simon is over 600 miles away looking for the remaining vessels. We are talking about poachers here. There is no difference between them and the people that go shoot tigers and rhinos in the jungle. Not one bit of difference other than the fact that apparently what they are doing is perfectly fine judging from the response of three nations.

Coming into question now is the safety of the crew on board the Sea Shepherd vessels. If these poachers are like the poachers we see on land, chances are pretty good that they are armed and will use those weapons if they feel they need to do so. So far they have tried to escape through thick ice in which the "Bob Barker" is able to cut through with an ice class hull and continue to try to run in all different directions. As with the Japanese poachers, every day that these people are not poaching, they are losing money and given the nature of the operation, that can only last for so long before the "Thunder" gets desperate. It is truly disappointing that three different countries refuse to do anything about the illegal fishing going on thanks to a boat that has a purple notice out on it. I wonder if they will feel any remorse should a headline come up involving the "Thunder" sinking or crew of the "Bob Barker" shot?

This folks is the state of our oceans. If it's international waters, it's free game apparently. Poaching is apparently allowed to occur with no enforcement from any country. Meanwhile the fishermen who play by the rules and depend (in this case) on the toothfish will eventually be forced to find something else to rely on cause thanks to all this poaching, they eventually will be gone just like the countless species of fish that have been driven to extinction via poaching and a general lack of care from the people of this world.

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