Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Japan to Whale and Lose WAZA

Greetings everyone. I hope all is well. With Sea Shepherd's Operation Icefish a complete success and now over I will be shifting the blog again back to other topics as they come up. Over the past couple days, two such topics that I have followed extensively in the past have resurfaced a bit. Both involve the country of Japan and both are not in favor of the island nation. Let's start with the good news!

Earlier today WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) voted to suspend it's association with Japan. This move is a small answer to the prayers and wishes of countless people who love dolphins and other small cetaceans.

The suspension comes from years of debate over how Japan acquires it's dolphins. For years WAZA had tried to work with JAZA (Japan's Association of Zoos and Aquariums) in putting an end to the horrific drive fishireis that occur in places like Taiji that sees Japan not only select dolphins for captivity, but brutally murder hundreds of others at the same time. This move will hurt Japan's ability to sell the dolphins as no WAZA member will be permitted to purchase dolphins from Taiji. In my opinion, a move that is long overdue! It looks like WAZA is finally taking a firm stance as an agreement could not be reached despite JAZA revising their plans to catch dolphins. It sounds to me like WAZA is finished with being associated in a brutal practice to bring in dolphins, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Will this mean the end of the drive hunts in Taiji? No I doubt that highly. I expect this battle to continue on, but now that WAZA is no longer supporting JAZA I would like to think that they may become a leading component of the end of the drives. Time will tell as to what will happen with this situation, but for now it seems that conservationists and WAZA might be getting on the same page in regards to Taiji and that is nothing but good news!

Now from the good news to the frustrating news. Several days ago a panel of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) rejected Japan's latest plan to kill whales in the Southern Ocean. This is the first time that any scientific panel has told Japan that they have not shown enough of a reason to kill whales. Japan's new plan was to kill 333 minke whales over the next 12 years. The purpose of the killing would be to determine the role of the whales in their natural environment and to collect data on stomach contents, maturity, and to try and establish a sustainable quota should commercial whaling return. Japan's response is that they will do exactly as they planned. Kill whales. Apparently this year's nonlethal trip to the Southern Ocean was too difficult without lethal research. More like it was nowhere near as profitable. Japan plans to move ahead with it's whaling program despite the IWC rejecting the plan. With this news I expect to see even more people throwing the commercial whaling card in Japan's direction. Such a card is nothing more than the truth and it's a truth that is not needed in what will be 2016!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Pirates Lose! The Thunder SINKS IN THE ATLANTIC!

Greetings everyone. Let's get right into this thing. Roughly 18 hours ago news began to break that the toothfish poaching vessel Thunder had put out a mayday call. The Sea Shepherd vessels Sam Simon and Bob Barker who had been tailing the ship since December answered the call and intended to help the crew of the Thunder. The call was that the poaching vessel was sinking. Soon after the call was sent out, the 35 crewman of the Thunder were seen in lifeboats. Sea Shepherd acted and sent out it's small boats to recover the crew who had legitimately abandoned ship.

Photo: Sea Shepherd

Three hours later, three crew members of the Bob Barker boarded the Thunder and the situation quickly became apparent. The engine room of the Thunder was completely flooded and all hatches were open. Computers, mobile phones, and a few other items including a tooth fish were removed from the sinking ship.

Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

It appears that the crew of the Thunder had intentionally sank the boat. This was probably done to destroy vast evidence of the poaching operations in the Southern Ocean. The Thunder is now at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and the 110 day pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel has come to an end. It has also been reported that the captain of the Thunder applauded and cheered as his ship went down.

Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The captain of the sinking ship cheered as it went down, say activists.
Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

So the Thunder is no more. Elsewhere, Sea Shepherd's efforts alongside the New Zealand Navy's has not gone unnoticed. In my last blog I stated that the Kunlun was to be release. Well that never happened and instead Thailand decided to detain the ship and arrest the captain and crew. Days ago a second  poaching vessel, the Viking which was also monitored by both New Zealand and Sea Shepherd was detained in Malyasia. Three of the Bandit 6 fishing vessels have had their catches removed either by law enforcement or via sinking. Overall the estimated loss for the poaching operation (not counting the total loss of the Thunder and possibly the other two ships) is estimated to be between 6 and 12 million dollars. Certainly a massive hit! Once again I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Sea Shepherd for tracking these guys to the bitter end. 110 days of pursuit is a world record and it was all for the toothfishes of the Southern Ocean. Operation Icefish has turned out to be a huuuuuge success!

Just some notes at the end here. The nets of the Thunder were recovered by the Sam Simon during the chase so there was not much in the way of netting onboard the ship when it went down. 110 days of running also puts a massive dent in the fuel reserve of the ship. Chances are the choice to scuttle the ship came as the fuel supplies were dwindling and no safe ports were within reach.

In other news, the Japanese whaling fleet (just 2 ships) returned from the Southern Ocean for the first time with ZERO whales killed. They went down to survey for a while, but no harpoons were on the ships. Japan still plans to return to lethal whaling next year.