Monday, June 23, 2008

Whales Under Attack

Whales are having trouble finding mates due to overfishing, collisions and being mercilessly hunted. There are not enough (healthy) fish for whales to eat to sustain their numbers. Lonely whales are choosing to die rather than live without mates. So What says Japan, Norway & Iceland as they petition the sixty year old International Whaling Commission (IWC) to hunt down haunted undernourished whales to increase the coffers of their own economic engines. It is 77 nations against 3 clueless countries that stubbornly refuse to accept that hunting whales for commercial profit was pretty much over in the twentieth century. Japan, deservedly, has been under international fire and surveillance for its constant flouting of the treaty with whiny exhortations that they have people for centuries who lived off of whale hunting and that should not change. Talk about out of touch with the times and the very real threat of extinction of certain whale species.

The psychological impact of over-hunting on the highly intelligent and sociable animals has been identified as the latest threat to the survival of the species.

The whale population has already fallen dramatically over the past few centuries because to culling by Japan, Norway and Iceland, and the poisoning of oceans which kills off their food.

But now a French scientist has said the majestic mammals - which can reach 80ft in length and weigh the same as a passenger jet - could also suffer from heartbreak.

Paris naturalist Yves Paccalet said: 'It may be that these intelligent animals are so exhausted from their combat with humankind that they have simply have given up the fight.

An International Whale soap opera continues for the next week in Santiago, Chile as the debate rages led by three outlaws to have the twelve year old ban lifted or relaxed. Greenpeace's ship, Esperanza, already tailed Japan's pseudo research fleet as they chased whales for a biological study project in the South Seas of Antarctica earlier this year. Japan, now, wants to "shop" for whale meat closer to home. After a ten year absence from the IWC, returning in 2002, Iceland just plain ignores the commission's treaty using scientific study because Icelandic fisherman claim whales eat too much fish. Competition.

The Japanese delegate to the IWC, Joji Morishita, did not confirm his country's agenda at the meeting but he reaffirmed support for commercial whaling, according to an interview given to Chile's El Mercurio newspaper.

Morishita said his country's consumption of whale meat went back hundreds of years and should be respected by the rest of the world.

"This is a case of accepting the coexistence of different cultures," he said.

Japan kills some 1,000 whales a year using a loophole in the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling that allows "lethal research" on the ocean giants. Norway and Iceland defy the moratorium altogether.

The IWC seeks an Ocean whale preserve on the same scale as the UNESCO World Heritage site, Mount Kenya National Park, on land for conservation and encouraging observation in their natural habitats. Australian Environmental Minister, Peter Garrett, seeks an overhaul of the whaling forum's charter as the debate needs to encompass conservation and environmental concerns. Australia has been a loud and vociferous critic of Japan's whaling practices as well as sending Oceanic Viking in pursuit of Japan's whalers. Iceland hunts Fin or baleen whales which are an endangered species.

A démarché, diplomatic warning notice, was delivered to an unconcerned government in Reykjavik. The irony is that the excess whale meat Iceland killed was for export to Japan which claims no way no how would they be purchasers. It takes 75% of the IWC membership to make a change and no consensus is yet happening. Japan threatens to leave the IWC in dramatic fashion if their proposal is rejected. Major negotiators that settle wars are trying to close the commercial whaling loophole while others are stalwarts of the status quo. The sea saga drama drags on.

Peter Heller depicts the dangers of the deep for the world's whales in The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals. Heller went aboard Watson's Sea Shepard for a whale saving mission/adventure of a lifetime and captures what drives people to go to sea in a massive effort at whale conservation from the hunters.

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