Monday, 21 February 2011

New Rules

You must stop calling North Korea a Democratic Republic.

Their acts of sabotage have become increasingly aggressive over the years. In January 2010, Sea Shepherd's small high-speed boat Ady Gil rammed into the Japanese research vessel Shonan Maru No. 2.

You really must stop taking the piss.

And you have to stop calling commercial whaling, research.

Antarctic whaling on verge of disappearing
Feb. 20, 2011

With this season's research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean called off due to harassment by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Japan's whaling activities in the area may not see another year.

In addition to Sea Shepherd's acts of sabotage, low domestic demand for whale meat--which used to be a valuable source of protein during the food-scarce postwar years--also has made the prospect of continuing whaling extremely gloomy, officials said.

Crew members worn out

"There's no way we can outrun the Sea Shepherd boats!"

So officials of the Fisheries Agency's Far Seas Fisheries Division quoted a phone call from the Nisshin Maru in the Antarctic Ocean on Feb. 11. The 8,044-ton Nisshin Maru is the mother ship of the research whaling fleet.

The caller sounded completely exhausted, division officials said. The Fisheries Agency is part of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

At that time, the Nisshin Maru was under fierce attack by the antiwhaling group for the second time. It also had been targeted Feb. 9.

In the Feb. 11 incident, the Far Seas Fisheries Division instructed the fleet to outrun the Sea Shepherd's two boats.

The Nisshin Maru's fastest speed is about 20 kilometers per hour, but the Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker and Gojira vessels can travel at maximum speeds of 30 kph and 44 kph, respectively.

Unable to shake off its pursuers, the Nisshin Maru was harassed by the Sea Shepherd with flares and laser beams for a full week.

When the Nisshin Maru suffered a similar assault in January 2010, the Fisheries Agency at one point studied the advisability of suspending whaling operations altogether.

However, a protest vessel broke down shortly after the assault, and the whaling ship was able to flee and continue its research whaling until March.

"It's impossible for the Japanese whaling vessels to outrun the antiwhalers, unless the activists have trouble with their vessels," one agency official said.

Another official said: "It's a miracle the nation's research whaling was conducted through March as scheduled until last year. Whaling could have been ended at any time."

What to do from 2012 on

Asked at a press conference Friday about the possibility of the country ending research whaling entirely, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano replied: "We can't say anything definite about that."

According to ministry officials, however, discussions have already begun behind the scenes about ending Japan's Antarctic whaling.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one high-ranking ministry official said five alternative scenarios have so far been studied:

-- Have the whaling fleet escorted by Japan Coast Guard vessels or others.

-- Build new whaling vessels capable of traveling at high speed.

-- Replace research whaling with commercial whaling.

-- Continue with the current whaling arrangements.

-- End whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.

The first option, whaling accompanied by escort vessels, was discussed in the government from around 2007, but was scrapped because there are no escort vessels that could travel all the way to the Antarctic.

The second alternative is "almost impossible," the official said, due to the government's severe fiscal condition.

Concerning the third option, Japan sought to bring about an IWC accord to resume commercial whaling at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June 2010. However, the meeting broke down when the gap could not be bridged between whaling and antiwhaling nations.

A 1982 meeting of the IWC decided on a "temporary suspension" of commercial whaling, on condition the suspension would be reviewed by 1990. Research whaling is meant to study whales' ecological characteristics and their population in preparation for resuming commercial whaling.

The plan to review the ban on commercial whaling by 1990 has been shelved due mainly to growing antiwhaling sentiment in many countries.

Japan began research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean in 1987 and in the northwest Pacific Ocean in 1994, both of which are "in line with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling," according to the Fisheries Agency.

The ministry official said, "With the suspension of research whaling, there is no possibility of whaling continuing from next season as it has in the past."

Whalers cash-strapped

Sea Shepherd's obstructive activities are not the only factor behind a possible end to Antarctic whaling, it has been suggested.

Research whaling is estimated to cost about 6 billion yen every season. Of this sum, about 800 million yen is covered by government subsidies, while the rest is primarily financed by the sale of whale meat.

About 170 minke whales were caught this season, which started in December. That is one-fifth of the target of 850.

Only two fin whales were caught, 4 percent of a 50-catch goal, according to the agency.

People concerned with whaling operations are racking their brains, saying they will barely be able to afford to fund the dispatch of the whaling fleet to the Antarctic Ocean next season.

There also are structural problems with research whaling: the IWC ban on blue whale hunting, which has been in place since 1964; the ban on commercial whaling since 1982; and a steadily growing international trend in favor of prohibiting whaling.

Under the circumstances, a great majority of the people concerned agree that Antarctic whaling is unsustainable as an industry, agency officials said.

Involved directly in the research whaling are the government-affiliated Institute of Cetacean Research and companies offering whaling boats and personnel under contracts with the institute.

Only about 180 people go whaling in the Antarctic Ocean every season, the agency said. - Daily Yomiuri

H/T Farplace Animal Rescue

No comments:

Post a Comment