Table of contents:
From Dolphin Hunt to Dolphin Watch
In October, 1999, the village of Futo, Japan, became infamous around the world for the brutal slaughter of a pod of some 70 dolphins. Letters, faxes and emails expressing outrage poured into the Japan Fisheries Agency, the office of the Prime Minister and the Fishing Co-op in Futo. There has not been another dolphin hunt at Futo since.
In September, 2002, Futo fishermen will again depart from the tiny harbor on the Izu peninsula to seek dolphins-but this time they will be accompanied by eco-tourists hoping to experience the wondrous sight of hundreds of dolphins leaping over the wave tops.
The dolphin-watching boat will be captained by Mr. Izumi Ishii, formerly a leader of the dolphin hunting boats at Futo. But Ishii-san has changed. "I heard the sound of the dolphins crying as they were killed. I could not bear it," he said in describing his reasons for converting from dolphin killing to dolphin watching.
Mr. Ishii has also seen films about dolphins and educated himself by reading extensively. "From now on, I want the value of a dolphin to be considered in the wonder it inspires in people, rather than for the value of its meat. Of course, we also want this to be a successful venture so that other boats will adopt the occupation."
Dolphin watching will bring financial benefits to travel companies, hotels in the area, restaurants and souvenir stands as well as the fishermen themselves. A dead dolphin is worth only $300 for its meat. Live dolphins attracting tourists are worth many times that sum.
The first group of American tourists to come to Japan for this experience will arrive in late September, 2002, in a trip cosponsored by BlueVoice.org and the Oceanic Society.
If Futo ceases dolphin hunting, it will leave the village of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture as the only town on the main island hunting dolphins.
"Taiji will be the toughest nut to crack," says BlueVoice.org executive director Hardy Jones. "They will try to hunt dolphins again next October, and if they do we will webcast the atrocity worldwide."
A bipartisan group of four powerful U.S. Senators last week introduced a resolution directing the U.S. government to take strong actions against commercial and "research" whaling, as well as to support whale sanctuaries.
The legislation by Senators John Kerry, Olympia Snowe, Ernest Hollings, and John McCain reads in part:
"Resolved that it is the sense of the Senate that- "(1) at the 54th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission the United States should-
(A) Remain firmly opposed to commercial whaling;
(B) Initiate and support efforts to ensure that all activities conducted under reservations to the Commission's moratorium and sanctuaries are ceased;
(C) Oppose the proposal to allow a non-member country to join the convention with a reservation that exempts it from the moratorium against commercial whaling;
(D) Oppose the lethal taking for whales for scientific purposes unless such lethal taking is specifically authorized by the Scientific Committee of the Commission;
(E) Seek the Commission's support for specific efforts by member nations to end illegal trade in whale meat; and
(F) Support the permanent protection of whale populations through the establishment of whale sanctuaries in which commercial whaling is prohibited."
The resolution goes on to say: "At the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the United States should oppose all efforts to reopen international trade in whale meat or downlist any whale populations."
Swift passage of this resolution is expected in the U.S. Senate.
Japan announced an astonishing scientific finding Tuesday: The whales are gobbling up the world's tuna! Nobody had any idea that the huge, slow-moving whales could be catching the high-speed tunas. (And the fact that world commercial catches of most tunas are at all-time highs probably doesn't matter, either. Oversupply of tuna is a major problem for the fishing industry at the moment, depressing prices.)
But Japan's deputy Commissioner Masayuki Komatsu told the IWC that tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean are declining because "30 percent of tuna are eaten by cetaceans." This fantastic finding, of course, supports Japan's discredited campaign to cull whales in order to stop the decline of fisheries.
ECO was scratching our collective heads about all this, when we remembered that it was the same Mr. Komatsu who announced a couple of years ago that minke whales are the "cockroaches" of the sea.
However, now we have a new dilemma: How do cockroaches catch tuna??
Japan avoided another humiliating defeat Tuesday, when it withdrew its proposal to kill the 23-year old Indian Ocean Sanctuary - but only after suffering more than an hour of scathing criticism from a dozen IWC members. The Japanese "scientific" paper on the sanctuary was repeatedly condemned as a blatant political document.
And the states that range along all sides of the vast ocean stoutly defended the huge benefits of the protected zone. Other Southern Hemisphere nations have taken it as a model for the proposed sanctuaries in the South Pacific and South Atlantic.
The distinct message to Japan's whalers is: Stay out of our waters!
It was really nice of our Nordic whale-killing colleagues of the Harpoon newsletter to publish their issue in both English and Japanese.
Of course, there is only one small problem. The Japanese version featured different stories than the English version. For those of you, like us, who are not up on their kanji, ECO provides the following summation of an article on our good friend, cow-puncher and eco-puncher, Congressional Representative Richard Pombo, who is visiting Shimonoseki. Of course, since Rep. Pombo's views are in Japanese instead of English, he doesn't have to worry that his Stockton District in California will ever hear of his support for slaughtering whales.
The Harpoon article on Rep. Pombo outlines his fine career of cattle ranching (complete with a photo of Rep. Pombo in his cowboy hat). The story notes that Rep. Pombo is the chairman of the anti-animal Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union (SUPU), an international amalgamation of fanatics dedicated to killing virtually anything that moves. This, unfortunately, includes whales.
Rep. Pombo proudly notes his support for a restoration of commercial "sustainable" whaling, in direct conflict, of course, with official US policy. [We only bring up this point because Rep. Pombo is quick to jump on anyone expressing disagreement with U.S. policy (for example, in Afghanistan) as being "disloyal" to the United States. Apparently, such disloyalty doesn't apply to him?]
Rep. Pombo even prides himself on the SUPU resolution in support of Japan's illegal, wasteful, and scientifically-vapid "research whaling."
ECO is pleased to publicize our colleagues' inimitable propaganda in English. Probably just an editorial oversight that the Harpoonistas did not do so themselves.
Japan's much-criticized "scientific" kill of thousands of whales since 1987 was condemned by 21 prominent scientists Monday.
"We believe Japan's whale research program fails to meet minimum standards for credible science," the scientists said in an open letter to the Japanese government. It was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times.
"The commercial nature of Japan's whaling program conflicts with its scientific independence," stated the letter, which was signed by three Nobel Prize winners (Sir Aaron Klug and Alan MacDiarmid of U.K. and Roger Guillemin of France) and famed naturalists Edward O. Wilson of Harvard, Richard Dawkins of Oxford, David Suzuki of Canada and Jared Diamond of UCLA.
"By continuing to fund and carry out this program, Japan opens itself to serious charges that it is using the pretense of scientific research to evade its commitments to the world community. As scientists, we believe this compromises objective decision-making and undermines public confidence in the role of science to guide policy. Accordingly, we respectfully urge the Japanese government to suspend its 'scientific whaling' program."
Monday morning, bright and early, Iceland, Norway and Japan interrupted the regular business of the IWC to force the seating of Iceland as a voting member, despite that country's illegal effort to bootstrap in a reservation against the commercial whaling moratorium.
Tuesday morning, it was Iceland Day again, as the disgruntled delegation arose and ceremonially walked out of the IWC, to thunderous applause. (ECO isn't sure if the applause was for Iceland or for their finally leaving so the IWC could get some business done, or perhaps both.)
Outside the meeting hall, the Icelandic delegation declared to the media mob that "Iceland is a member of the IWC." Why then, the media logically asked, are you walking out and leaving the proceedings?
"Because we don't like what is going on," was the lame response from our Iceland friends.
Iceland wants to join the IWC, but doesn't want to abide by the decisions of the IWC. Iceland claims to be a member of the IWC, but walks out. Not a very good foreign policy, is it?
Will we be forced to repeat this operatic charade in Berlin?
In yet another debate on transparency - an international concept that tends to be growing in a positive, democratic manner - the IWC once again avoided a step backward by voting 25 to 19 (with one abstention) against secret ballots. The votes will continue to be recorded, despite the efforts of countries to hide their national policies on slaughtering the world's whales.
ECO deeply thanks those country delegations which voted NO on turning back the clock with secret IWC ballots.
After around two decades of failing to create a new coastal subsistence whaling category, Japan once again demanded a special minke quota Tuesday, and once again was flatly rejected by the IWC.
Needing a three-quarters majority, Japan failed to win even a simple majority, with 21 nations voting no and 20 voting yes. It was a crushing blow to the host country, which has been promising coastal whaling towns for year that the IWC would grant a quota of 50 whales.
One reason Japan failed again is because it has already announced it is awarding itself a "scientific research" quota of 50 whales from the coastal minke population. Even if it won the special quota, Japan told the commission yesterday, it still planned to take the "research" whales.
Over the past 14 years, since Japan began "research" whaling, the IWC Scientific Committee has refused to endorse the killing and the full Commission has passed resolutions specifically directing Japan not to grant any research whaling permits.
This ongoing, flagrant disregard of IWC rules and resolutions is why Japan's coastal whaling scheme was once again rejected.
So don't feel sorry for the coastal whaling communities. They will be getting tons of "research" whale meat in Japan's latest cheating scheme.
Italy's whaling commissioner pointed out that many fishing communities around the world are having cope with the loss of fisheries. In Sicily, for example, the driftnet fleets that operated in the Mediterranean have been bought out by Italy and the European Union in order to comply with the United Nations ban on high-seas use of that destructive technology.
Rather than holding out false hopes year after year, it is time for the government of Japan to help its whalers convert to other livelihoods.
The whalers and their well-paid lapdogs derailed the two whale sanctuaries sought by Southern Hemisphere nations on Tuesday. Although the South Pacific and South Atlantic sanctuaries garnered healthy majorities, they fell short of the necessary three-quarters.
Appeals by Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, the primary sponsors of the sanctuaries, to the Caribbean and West African states fell on deaf ears, giving Japan and Norway the necessary blocking votes. Only St. Vincent waffled on the whalers' hard line, abstaining on both votes.
The South Pacific Sanctuary received 24 in favor, 16 against, and five abstentions. The South Atlantic Sanctuary went down with 23 yes, 18 no and four abstentions.
The defeats did nothing to slow the momentum for full protection of the whales. The range states declared they will forge ahead again next year - and the year after if needed. Indeed, last year's rejection has already impelled four island chains to declare their own whale sanctuaries within their 200-mile EEZs.
French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Niue and Papua New Guinea have banned the Japanese whalers from more than a million square miles of the South Pacific. If all 21 nations in the region declare sanctuaries, it would lock up half of that ocean.