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Monday, February 27, 2012

Hana Blog 5. English, 7th February 2012

27th January 2012

Sacrifices to Save Whales

The Bob Barker has been picking its way through rough weather for the past week. Unsecure objects crash, bang and spill whenever the ship takes a severe roll and crew are thrown left to right, up and down and every other direction imaginable.

Not immune from the sudden and often unpredictable movements, I misplaced my footing and took a fall down a flight of stairs last night. The result was a 3cm cut to the back of my head. Fortunately, I didn’t need any stitches, but the doctor made sure the cut was sealed and dressed appropriately. I also have some bruises on both my hands and arms but I didn’t experience any real pain. This is the 2nd time I have fallen down the stairs…I guess this just part of saving whales.

30th January 2012

No Justice for Cove Guardians

In Japan, approximately 20,000 dolphins are inhumanely killed every year from September to March. Many of the slaughters take place in the small coastal town of Taiji, nestled in the Wakayama prefecture. In Taiji, entire pods of dolphins are herded into a notorious killing cove where they become trapped. Some of these dolphins are then sold to aquariums in Japan and overseas. Each animal is capable of fetching approximately 5,000,000 yen (Aus $60,000). The dolphins that don’t meet selection criteria are brutally stabbed many times and left to slowly die. The meat from their bodies (sometimes labeled as whale meat) is then sold to the general public. In the influential Academy Awards winning documentary, The Cove, many individuals and groups come from the overseas and stay in Taiji in an attempt to monitor and stop the ruthless dolphin killing. Despite their best efforts and amidst huge international backlash, the killings continue to this day.

Sea Shepherd members called ‘Cove Guardians’ started to observe and record the dolphin slaughter in Taiji in September 2009. The founder and president of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson, made it clear that all Cove Guardians must abide by Japanese laws and, above all else, never lay a hand on anyone involved in the killing of dolphins. Despite staying within the bounds of the law, a Dutch Cove Guardian named Erwin Vermeulen has now been held in a Taiji jail for over 44 days. Erwin had been staying in Taiji in order to observe and record the dolphin slaughter when, on the December 16th 2011, he was arrested for allegedly pushing a dolphin killer. Erwin has maintained his innocence but unfortunately, there were no witnesses to this incident. There are no witnesses to say that he pushed anybody either. Unless he agrees to confess, he could be jailed for up to 2 years. Erwin is a strong believer in the principles of veganism and accordingly he has refused to eat fish or any other non-vegan dishes prison officials have served him. To date he has gone over 1 and a half months with a diet consisting almost entirely of white rice. Vegans are so rare in Japan that it is often hard to find suitable plant-based food, even outside the prison system.

Ironically, just before Erwin’s incarceration, Sea Shepherd managed to capture video footage of a dolphin killer aggressively yelling at, and pushing two female Cove Guardians. Yet, when the police arrived on scene, they immediately rushed to the aid of the dolphin killer who had just committed the offence. When the Cove Guardians explained to the authorities that they were the victims of the assault rather than the instigator, the police rushed after the dolphin killer but in a gross case of double standards, he managed to walk away with no questioning and little more than a warning. In the end, Sea Shepherd’s hard evidence against the man amounted to nothing. He remains out in the community free to murder dolphins whilst a man who is a passionate believer in non-violence and protecting lives sits in a jail cell, waiting to be tried over an incident without evidences or witnesses – an incident that, in many people’s minds, most likely never even took place.

The Grind

Some of Sea Shepherd’s best known campaigns work to highlight Antarctic whaling and the Taiji dolphin slaughter, but since being established in 1977, the organisation has always maintained a global focus on marine conservation. Operation Ferocious Isle is a good example of just one of the many Sea Shepherd campaigns that has taken place in European waters.

From July to September, pilot whales pass by the picturesque shores of the Faeroe Island on their annual migration. Unfortunately, some Faeroese people feel the need to take this magnificent spectacle and turn it into a cruel and unnecessary bloodbath. In a similar method used by the Taiji fishermen, boats are used to herd the pilot whales into coves situated along the coast. Once trapped in the coves, the creatures are driven toward the shore where local villagers (including children) wait to hack them to death with knives in a horrific annual tradition known as a grind.

In July of 2011, the Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot began patrolling the waters off the Faeroe Islands in preparation to intervene against a grind but no grinds ever took place. Funding from Sea Shepherd’s generous supporters enabled the ships to keep watch until August. There was hope the grinds would be called off for good but sadly, the moment Sea Shepherd left, the shameless killing began. In the end, Sea Shepherd’s presence successful cut the number of cetaceans slaughtered in Faroese waters by 50%. Funds permitting, hopefully next year, we will see the pilot whale slaughter grind to a complete halt.

31st January 2012

The Killer and the Spy

The YM3 has been replaced by SM2. It is likely that the YM3 broke away to refuel. As long as the harpooners are occupied by Sea Shepherd and refueling operations, few whales are being killed.

2nd February 2012

Eating Our Way to Extinction

Tonight, I watched two incredible documentaries. The first, ‘The End of the Line’, is based on the book of the same name which exposes the rampant depletion of our oceans largely brought about by our consumer choices. The second documentary, ‘Meat the Truth’ holds the meat and dairy industry largely accountable for climate change and the destruction of our global land and marine environments. By the simple act of leaving animals and animal products out off our diet we can greatly cut CO2 emission, finally put an end to starvation in the third world, reduce animal suffering and live altogether better and healthier lives.

Longlining and gill net fishing techniques were placed under great scrutiny in The End of the Line. The length of a single longline can range from 9.6m to 160km and may be equipped with millions of fish hooks. Both fishing methods catch and kill countless thousands of seals, penguins, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks, rays, and sea birds each year. Last year, on the way to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the Bob Barker managed to confiscate an illegal gill net suspected to be set by poachers targeting endangered Patagonian tooth fish. Thankfully, it appeared the gill net had only recently been deployed and all that was found ensnared in the ‘curtain of death’ were a few starfish, a handful of sea urchins and a scattering of broken coral.

Currently, the world’s oceans, and the creatures that call these watery bodies home, are being destroyed by 2048 humans at a rapid and ever-increasing pace. 70-80% of the oxygen you and I, and all land animals depend on for life comes not from our forests (although they play are incredibly important role in our survival and wellbeing) but from a complex and fragile balance found in our vast ocean ecosystems. The fact you’re breathing right can only be attributed to oxygen-producing phytoplankton which is dependent on marine food webs remaining uncompromised. If we sit back and allow current trends to continue, it won’t be long until the problems under the water, are right under our nose.

Together, The End of the Line and Meat the Truth, scream dire warnings that we must heed if there is to be any hope of securing safe and fulfilling lives for our future generations.

3rd February 2012

Reminders

We’ve finally been blessed with beautiful weather. I seized the opportunity to venture out the deck with a fellow crewmate and friend for a session of sunbathing. But within 10 minutes, the clouds had closed in once more and I was forced to go back below deck. Before I closed the hatched behind me, I glanced back and saw the SM2- a grim specter of death on the horizon and a constant reminder that whales are still being killed illegally in a sanctuary created to protect them.

7th February 2012

The Bitter Taste of Fins

Tonight, I watched the highly-acclaimed documentary, ‘Shark Water’. This is the 4th times I’ve seen it. The last time was a few years ago in Japan when I watched it with Japanese subtitles.

This documentary follows renowned marine conservationist and shark expert, Rob Stewart, as he embarks on a mission to uncover the illegal operations of the Shark Fin Mafia and dispel the myths that are driving sharks toward extinction at an alarming rate. One of the highlights of the film comes when Rod joins Paul Watson on the Sea Shepherd ship, Ocean Warrior. With a passionate crew of ocean defenders, they venture out on a campaign to protect the sharks of the Galapagos and Costa Rica from illegal shark fin poachers.

Few people realise it but over 100,000,000 sharks are killed every year for their fins alone. Already we have seen global shark population plummeted below 10% in the last 30 years. Killing off the top predators in our oceans is predicted to have disastrous effects for all life on the planet. In fact, this is a problem so serious that scientists have predicted it could eventually spell the end for the human race.

Shark fin soup and other foods containing sharks fin are quite popular in Japan. But given the information put forth in Shark Water, those consuming fins best beware. Eating endangered species has a tendency to leave a very bitter aftertaste for all of humanity.

Thanks Michael Beasley for helping me to translate above and adding some of the infos.