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Friday, December 30, 2011

Sea Shepherd Antarctica Campaign 2011

Translator, Bob Barker

Profile: My name is HANA. I was born in Tokyo and am a citizen of the planet earth. Being vegan, I love nature, animals and the world I live in. I have dedicated my life to helping defenseless and voiceless animals. I am participating Sea Shepherd’s Antarctic campaign ‘Operation Devine Wind’ at the moment.

Blog 1 30th December, 2011

Konnichiwa! My name is HANA. I’m the translator on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ship, the Bob Barker.

I would like to write about the issue of whaling as I observe this season’s Japanese illegal whaling activities in the southern ocean whale sanctuary.

First of all, I would like you to know about the Japanese illegal whaling in the southern ocean whale sanctuary. Run by the Japanese government, they used our bloody tax (500 million yen + additional of 2280 million yen this year) to break the hearts of whale lovers from all over the world. I would like Japanese people to know how this illegal slaughter affects the rest of the world.

I find it ironic that a country which dumps over 20,000,000 tons of food every year travels 1,000s of kilometers to the southern hemisphere to hunt whales. On their way down south the whaling fleet passes the nations of Australia and New Zealand where people have a high awareness of environmental and animal rights issues. A large section of their waters is considered part of the southern ocean whale sanctuary (where whales are protected and can swim freely, breed and take care of their calves) The whaling fleet kills about 1000 whales under the name of research here every year. Unfortunately Australians and New Zealanders are unable to do anything but watch as their lovely whales are brutally killed during the whaling season. Can you imagine how they feel?

There are still some people in Japan who think that whales are fish. However, whales and dolphins are mammals, just like humans. Whales can only give birth every few years, Calves are fed by breast feeding, learn how to breath, how to get food from their mums and it usually takes about one year for them to become fully independent. They have excellent communication skills and live in pods (families).

1/3 of the whales caught in Antarctica are pregnant, another 1/3 are mothers with a calf.

It is not hard to predict that the numbers of whales will continue to decrease if the Japanese whalers keep killing whales. Also, ocean pollution and noise have been a factor in decreasing the numbers of whales breeding.

The Japanese government accused of illegal commercial whaling in Antarctica by the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, Japanese media do not tell the truth when it comes to whaling. They only broadcast announcements from the Institution of Cetacean Research (ICR) who are busy accusing Sea Shepherd of using ‘risky’ actions. In doing this, they are ignoring the real problems associated with the whaling issue.

So, why is Japan’s Antarctic whaling being criticised so much?

  • In 1986, the International Whale Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling but the Japanese government kept on killing whales under the name of research. The IWC, not acknowledging the killings as viable research, then asked them once again to stop. To date, the Japanese government has ignored all requests not to kill whales.
  • At the IWC meeting in 1994, all 23 nations except Japan agreed to establish a whale sanctuary in the southern ocean. All whales would be protected from whaling in this sanctuary. Japan was the only nation to objects and is currently the only nation which whaling in the southern ocean whale sanctuary.
  • The Japanese government violates The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW): article 8 by selling whale meat.
  • This regulation allows the processing and distribution of whale meat which is caught for research purposes BUT it does not allow the selling of this meat.
  • The Japanese government violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES/ Washington treaty) by killing endangered whales and importing endangered whale meat.
  • The whales which Japan hunt in the southern oceans [including humpbacks, fin whales, mink whales] are listed on CITES’s red list of endangered species. The Japanese government disagrees with these regulations.
  • The Japanese government violates the Antarctic Treaty by using flash bang grenades and having armed coast guards personnel on board their whaling vessels. The Antarctic Treaty prohibits military action in Antarctic waters.
  • We were asked by a junior school student ‘Why do the Japanese whaling fleet need to use an armed coast guard and flash band grenades for research?’ and ‘What are they doing in southern ocean whale sanctuary? ’ What smart questions!
  • The Japanese government is ignoring an Australian federal high court order for a ban on whaling in Australian waters.
  • The Bonn Convention was established to protect migrating wild animals. The minke whales which the Japanese whaling fleet kills in the Antarctica migrate from Australia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and are protected by the Bonn Convention.116 nations have joined the Bon Convention. The Japanese government was encouraged to join by the governments of Australia and New Zealand but declined as it would mean an end to their whaling program.
  • Since the summer of 2011, ships like Nisshin Maru which use heavy oil, have been banned from entering Antarctic water because of a new Antarctic treaty. However the Nisshin Maru sails under the guise of a research ship so the rules of the treaty do not apply. It is unacceptable that this is possible under the name of research.
  • Using modern technology, scientists have shown it is possible to get accurate data about whale ecology without killing whales.
  • There is no relevance to the research which is being conducted. Minke and fin whales are only 2 species of whales out of 80 species around the globe and therefore don’t represent whale populations as a whole.
  • Killing 1000 whales is too many. (50 whales does not cover Antarctic whaling operational costs)
  • The IWC does not need the data the ICR collects.
  • Using a harpoon is an inhumane way to kill whales. It can take up to one hour for whales to die using this method.
  • If whales become extinct, the world’s ocean ecosystems will collapse leading to an eventual human extinction.
  • Some say ‘We have to control the number of whales because whales eat all the fish’  -- Whales have existed before humans started whaling so this argument does not make sense. Also the whales being hunted are baleen whales that eat krill, not fish.
  • The Japanese government said that they are researching whales as a future food shortage solution. -- Do they really believe that endangered whales can feed 127 million (Japanese population) people?

The Japanese government ignores many international laws and regulations and keeps whaling under their favorite interpretation of research whaling.

[The Japanese research whaling is actually commercial whaling exploiting a loop hole in the regulations.] It is common sense to the rest of the world to abide by these regulations. However The Japanese government continues to behave in an arrogant manner and do as they want. This is a government which lies to their own people, they are accused of falsifying the reasons for their whaling operations by people all over the world, they are decreasing Japan’s national interest and reputation, they spent our bloody hard working tax yen and break the hearts of many whale lovers around the globe. Do you think it’s all worth it - just keep whaling? Do you still want to eat whale meat?

Is whaling Japanese Tradition/Culture?

It is true that there are some specific local areas which have long history of whaling in Japan but this does not make it our whole country’s culture. People don’t have a habit of eating whale meat these days so it is hard to say whaling is our tradition/culture. Traditional fishermen did not have today’s  technology to assist them in killing whales. These people had to sail out on small boats and kill whales by hands. The meat from these whales was then used to feed the locals. They only killed whales for their  own survival. This is our Japanese traditional whaling.

Japan learned harpoon technology from Norway in 1934. So is whaling in the far south southern ocean whale sanctuary, and selling whale meat all over Japan truly our culture?

The dolphin slaughter in Taiji Wakayama prefecture occurs from September to March every year. Some dolphins which are driven into the cove are sold to aquariums in Japan and overseas. Each dolphin is worth about 5,000,000 yen. The rest of the dolphins are killed and sold as dolphin meat, or even sometimes as whale meat. Some may consider whaling in Taiji our culture but selling to aquariums and distributing dolphin meat all over Japan is DEFINITELY NOT!!

As time passes by tradition and culture change. Animal abuse should be left in the past and never be considered culture or tradition ever again.

China stopped the dog meat festival which has over 600 years of history this year.

Spain’s traditional bull fights finished in Catalonia this year.

Traditional fox hunting in England was also set to end a few years ago.

Don’t you think it is time we stopped whaling?

Ghandi said  One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals

In light of this message, I hope Japan will prove itself a truly great, forward-thinking and compassionate nation. GO JAPAN!!!!

Thanks Michael Beasley for helping to translate the above into English.



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