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Friday, January 20, 2012

Hana Blog 4. English, 20th January 2012

18th January 2012 (Wednesday)

Whalers injure 3 Steve Irwin crew members.

Today at 0400 AEAT (2am Japan time), 2 Sea Shepherd small boat crewmembers were struck with an iron grappling hook deliberately thrown at them from a Japanese harpoon vessel. The hook (estimated to be approximately 35-40cm long) hit both men on the right arm and shoulder resulting in deep bruising. Another crewmember sustained lacerations above his right eye and on his nose after being jabbed twice in the face with a bamboo pole. There were no injuries incurred by any of the crew on the Japanese vessel.

This year the whalers have become more aggressive and violent than ever before. The thought of them using heavy grappling hooks to inflict injury on Sea Shepherd crewmembers and damage their boat (a boat that is traveling at high speed, and is many times smaller and more vulnerable than their ship) is simply horrifying. The iceberg riddled waters of Antarctica, where this violent behaviour is taking place, are some of the most remote and hostile waters in the world. The whalers know very well that attacking someone with iron grappling hooks, high powered water cannons and concussion grenades under these circumstances is extremely dangerous – possibly even fatal. No excuse can ever make this type of action acceptable.

The ICR has always been quick to accuse, and even condemn, Sea Shepherd of using dangerous actions against their illegal activities but the truth is Sea Shepherd acts within international legal framework* and only targets the machines, equipment and revenues that make the unlawful destruction of our oceans possible. Never, in Sea Shepherd’s history have they targeted a human being (or any other life form) with the intent to harm or injure.

* Sea Shepherd is empowered to act under the United Nation World Charter for Nature. This charter declares that every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to humankind. Therefore a public authority, international organisation, individual, group or corporation has a moral obligation to act to conserve and safeguard nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction (i.e. the remote and unpatrolled areas of the high sea). Furthermore, it states that each person must STRIVE to ensure that the objects and requirements of the charter are met.

The problem is that we have all the rules, regulations and treaties we need to protect the world’s ocean and re-wildlife them but there is no one to enforce them. This is where Sea Shepherd steps in to play the urgent and vital role of defending our oceans. Without Sea Shepherd, the ocean is often left defenseless against the rampant illegal operations of marine poachers.

UPDATE: 19th Jan 2012 (Thu)

Sea Shepherd – For the Oceans!

Today I’ve been busy adding Japanese subtitles to a short Sea Shepherd educational video called For the Oceans. This video covers many of Sea Shepherd’s previous and ongoing campaigns, right up until the year 2009.

Since 1977 Sea Shepherd has been dedicated to saving marine mammals and ecosystem. From the early days working to save Canadian seals and shut down rogue whaling vessels, the number of Sea Shepherd campaigns has grown to include defending Mediterranean blue fin tuna, opposing the Faeroe Island pilot whale slaughter, ending the Namibia seal hunts, documenting the capture and killing of dolphins in Taiji, assisting in oil spill cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, protecting sharks off the Galapagos Islands and many other worthy causes.

Protecting sharks is particularly important to Sea Shepherd. Positioned at the top of the food chain, sharks have played a vital role in regulating the earth’s ocean ecosystems for over 450 million years. However, despite their importance, an estimated 100,000,000 sharks are currently being killed annually to satisfy the growing demand for shark fins. The cruel practice of shark finning often involves slicing the high value fins off a shark and dumping its still living body back into the ocean where it either slowly drowns or is eaten alive by other fish. The relentless decimation of sharks for fins has led to 90% of sharks being wiped from the face of the earth in the last 30 years.

Recognising the dire situation sharks are facing, several years ago, She Shepherd formed a partnership with the Ecuadorian Government. Their primary goal was to detect and intervene against shark fin poachers operating illegally in Ecuadorian waters. Following the success of this ongoing project, Sea Shepherd formed a similar partnership with the Government of Palau. The 2011 agreement would have seen Sea Shepherd send their ship, MV Bob Barker, to patrol the country’s newly established shark sanctuary at the organisation’s own expense.* However, just before the Bob Barker set sail, the Japanese Government intervened and insisted that Palau break their contract. Japan then made a counter offer to send their own patrol ship to the shark sanctuary. Palau accepted this offer but to this date, I have not been able to find any evidence to suggest that the Japanese Government has lived up to their word and sent a patrol ship to Palauan waters. What’s more, I’m deeply concerned that Palau would agree to such a thing when many shark finning vessels (both legal and illegal) are registered in Japan and operated by Japanese fishermen.

Thanks in part to Sea Shepherd, awareness about sharks in slowly growing. In 2011, California acknowledged the need to protect sharks and chose to ban the trade and possession of shark fins in their state. The move was noticed and quickly followed by Washington State, Oregon, Hawaii, Guam, the Canadian cities of Brantford and Toronto and the nation of Taiwan. If there is to be any hope for sharks surviving the coming decades, we urgently need more cities, states and countries to make a commitment to banning the trade and possession of shark fins. We must protect the creatures at the top of our marine food chains for one very good reason. The oceans cannot survive without them and if the oceans die, we all die along with them.

* Palau’s shark sanctuary was established in 2009. Covering 2.7 million square km, (roughly the size of France) it is the largest shark sanctuary in the world and an excellent model for other countries to follow.

The Japanese version of Sea Shepherd’s For the Oceans will be appearing on the Sea Shepherd Japan website soon. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

UPDATE: 20th Jan 2012 (Fri)

Alone at the Edge of the World

Our communications officer on the Bob Barker has just told me that he spotted a lone baby minke whale while he was on watch duty. With harpoon ships in the area, it’s possible the baby’s mother may have been killed. The baby fled as soon as it became aware of our presence. The crew said it was a good thing for the baby to run away when it sees a ship. I think so too. I really hope that the baby will survive and find friends in this vast ocean. It must be very scared to be alone. I feel so furious at the Japanese Government and the whalers. How can this baby live without its mother? This is the equivalent of leaving a human baby on the street without the love and security of its parents or the means to survive. It breaks my heart.

It’s been proven that all mammals share a common ability. We all experience fear, pain, sadness, suffering, compassion, love and other feelings that were once thought to be specific to the human race. It’s not hard to imagine other animals feelings these same emotions if you put yourself in their position. I am terribly sad.

I feel skeptical when I hear the number of whales are increasing. One third of the whales that get harpooned by the Japanese whaling fleet are pregnant females. A further one third are mothers with babies. This data comes directly from the ICR. How can whale populations increase when the whalers seek to kill over 1,000 whales (including endangered fin whales) each year? Keep in mind that whales can only raise one calf at a time, some whales only breed every 3 years and some may take up to 20 years to reach sexual maturity. How can the people behind the Japanese Government and ICR live with themselves when they do such terrible things in exchange for money and power?

Thanks Michael Beasley helping to translate into English every time. I could not do it without his help J

Sea Shepherd – Pirates of Compassion (with Japanese subtitles)

Sea Shepherd- For the Oceans (with Japanese subtitles)



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