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This years International Whaling Commission Annual Meeting will be held
in London 23-27th July. Item 8 on the agenda, the Revised Management
Scheme (RMS), will discuss the incorporation of the RMS into the IWC
Schedule. The RMS is a management formula for the resumption of whaling
and if adopted will lift the Moratorium, the whaling ban.
The resumption of whaling has some very major problems which will never
be addressed. One is the validity of historical catch data.
The RMP is said to be 'robust' to large-scale cheating, because in the
very long run (100 years) it will not lead to a much higher probability
of depletion or extinction of whales than if whaling did not resume.
The fact is that the accuracy or otherwise of the catch statistics
matters very much, since if the whalers under-report catches they will
automatically get higher quotas under the RMP. It is for that reason,
for example, that in discussion of possible quotas for minke whales in
the Northeast Atlantic Norwegian scientists insist that, even though it
is admitted that their whalers caught far more whales in the 1980's
than they reported, only the official historical catches would be used
in calculations. In all cases the whalers have a strong incentive to
under-report as much as they possibly can, and the authorities, trying
to please their whalers have an incentive to use the falsified rather
than the true historical statistics.
Another is enforcement and inspection.
A Russian whaler by the name of Ernest Cherny, who as a younger man had
taken part in Soviet whaling expeditions, and in 1994 was Chairman of
the Union of Independent Fishery Workers of the Russian Federation made
statements implicating the fisheries authorities of the Soviet Union in
the illegal killing of protected species, the killing of non-protected
species over accepted quotas, the killing inside regions out of bounds
to factory ships, the killing of mother whales and their calves, and
other transgressions of long established rules of conduct.
The Soviet, Japanese and Norwegian Governments have always been lax in
enforcing their own regulations about whaling and about trade in
products from whales, even in their own waters, under their own flags,
and in their own territory. National inspectors when they have been in
place (which has not been so in Norway) have succumbed to various
pressures and learnt that even courageous reports would be buried in
bureaucracies, and international inspection (in which the whalers
exchanged inspectors between themselves) has never been more than a bad
The next is humane slaughtering.
There are three aspects to a whale or dolphin hunt - the chase, the
capture and the kill. The welfare considerations of any hunt depend on
the time taken to carry out each of these phases. Each phase can
inflict extreme stress and suffering on the animal.
During the kill the primary weapon, the harpoon, inflicts excrutiating
pain on the whale or dolphin. It takes little expertise to realise that
every second the animal remains alive and wounded, is a second of
extreme and unacceptable pain. In the 1993 season 40% of targeted
whales were not killed by the harpoon. A rifle was fired at the whale
to "finished it off".
Unfortunately, in the past, progress on reducing the cruelty of whaling
has been slow and minimal. The most significant step taken by the IWC
was the banning of the cold or non-exploding harpoon in 1981 because it
was acknowledged to be an implement to wound and not to kill.
Recent Japanese minke whale hunts (1997), around a quarter (26%) of
whales caught were subjected to one or more cold harpoons following an
unsuccessful first strike by penthrite explosive grenade harpoon. Of
the minke whales struck with the cold harpoon, about half (53%)
remained alive after one or more shots and were then subjected to
electrocution with electric lance apparatus.
During the Faroese pilot whale hunt a knife with a 6-inch blade cuts
through the blubber and flesh behind the blowhole, in an attempt to
serve the main blood vessel to the brain which lies in the spinal
column. Again, the circumstances of this hunt and the implement used
prolong the suffering. Wounded whales often take several minutes to die
while other whales await their turn to be killed in the water bloodied
by their dead or dying relatives.
Similar shockingly cruel killing of tens of thousands of small whales,
dolphins and porpoises takes place each year around the coast of Japan.
These are some of the reasons why the RMP, no matter how safe it might
seem to be in ideal circumstances (and there are still some doubts
about that) and even if reinforced with nominal inspection schemes,
CANNOT be a sound basis for conservation of whales on the High Seas.
Edited from: IFAW Technical Briefing 94:6
International Fund for Animal Welfare
COMMERCIAL WHALING: A CORRUPT INDUSTRY
Graham J. Clarke.
___________________Say NO to the RMS______________________
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letter" which can be sent to all the IWC delegates with email. It's
Go to the bottom of page: http://whales.magna.com.au/alert/
Click on "Say NO to the RMS"
Select a delegate, read the letter, enter your name and email address
on the bottom and press SEND.
Become an activist and have your say.
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know they, too, might like to invest in whales.
At last word, NMFS is still working through your comment letters on the
NMFS' parent agency (NOAA) just recently submitted their $3.1 billion
(yes, billion) budget to Congress, and we are searching high and low
for those hidden line items that might authorize future whaling here in
Washington state. We're at $5 million and counting right now for the
costs of the Makah whaling program, but don't put away those ten-key
NOAA made a definite point of including Makah whaling in last year's
budget. Amazingly, they tucked it into a $278 million program "to
reduce the probability of extinction for protected species; and
maintain healthy species and ecosystems."
A jawdropper of last year's US budget? "Supporting sustainable
communities that conserve and recover protected species through Native
American co-management of marine mammals by Alaska natives and Makah
STILL MISSING: 26,000 GRAY WHALES
In spite of past deaths, the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS)
says the Gray whale population remains healthy at about 26,000 animals.
However, counters have only spotted 87 new calves, the lowest number
seen in eight years of surveys, said Wayne Perryman, biologist with the
NMFS in La Jolla, Calif.
The total number of new calves is estimated at between 255 to 265.
Not all the new ones were seen by spotters, who watch for the calves
only during daylight and did not count on Sundays.
Last year, Perryman figured there were 279 calves and in 1999 when
there were 428. Those numbers are far below 1997 when 1,520 new calves
"Reproduction has been down for three consecutive years for this
population," he said.
Theories about what is affecting the population includes the
possibility there is less food in their northern feeding grounds,
leading to less-healthy animals.
"Give us another five or six years, then hopefully we can figure this
out," he said.
__________________US Navy Sonar Update____________________
The U.S. Navy is asking to be exempted from a federal law that forbids
harassing or killing whales as it begins exercises with a powerful new
sonar designed to hunt for super-quiet submarines. (April, 2001)
The controversial sonar system, designed to blast swaths of ocean with
low-frequency sound waves, is the subject of protests planned today in
Los Angeles before a public hearing.
Government scientists confirmed that a different Navy sonar was likely
responsible for the mass stranding of beaked whales in the Bahamas in
Necropsies showed six whales died from hemorrhaging around the brain
and ear bones, presumably from intense internal vibrations caused by
bursts of mid-frequency sound waves.
Environmentalists have pounced on that case as proof that high-power
sonar systems can disorient and kill whales. "It is undeniable evidence
of just how dangerous and unpredictable intense sound can be in the
ocean," said Joel Reynolds, senior attorney of the Natural Resources
He and others fear whale strandings will become more commonplace if the
Navy conducts sonar exercises across 80 percent of the world's oceans.
But Navy scientists say such fears are unfounded. The deaths in the
Bahamas were linked to a mid-frequency sonar that has been around since
World War II.
Joe Johnson, a Navy sonar engineer in charge of environmental studies
on low-frequency sonar, said the Navy is seeking an exemption from the
Marine Mammal Protection Act because of the law's ban on harassing
whales - not the ban on whale deaths.
"There is no doubt that there will be some harassment of marine
mammals," Johnson said. "We have a very loud sonar system."
READ MORE... at the Natural Resources Defense Council Website
and send a protest: http://www.nrdcaction.org/index.asp?step=2&item=502
Web Site for Lolita's Legion in English, French and Spanish
For information on the Free Lolita Campaign visit:
and for an overview, see:
Think about Corky. Let us not forget her, EVER.
http://www.orcalab.org & http://www.oceanfutures.org
And remember this... ANY WALL CAN FALL!
* MINE-SEEKING DOLPHINS STEAL THE SHOW - 30 April, 2001. Some 2,500
marines are taking part in NATO's massive "Blue Game" exercise off
Norway's south coast, but it's the four American mine-seeking Atlantic
dolphins that are grabbing most of the headlines...
* 965 DOLPHINS COUNTED IN FIRST-EVER CENSUS - 2 May, 2001. The first
ever survey of Pakistan's Indus river dolphins was completed a few days
ago. Only 965 mammals were counted in the river system. Blind dolphins
are found only in Pakistan and are on the endangered species list of
the World Conservation Union...
* MOROCCO JOINS THE IWC - 11 May, 2001. Morocco has become the latest
signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of
Whaling. To achieve its objective of sustainable whaling based on
scientific information, the IWC is the appointed management body to
this Covention. With the adherence of Morocco, total membership now
stands at 41 countries...
* ST. LUCIANS BACK WHALE SANCTUARY - 11 May, 2001. As Greenpeace's
ship, the Arctic Sunrise, tours the Caribbean, the results of a MORI
poll show that people in the Eastern Caribbean support the creation of
a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary (SPWS) by a margin of four to one...
* WHERE ARE ALL THE GRAY WHALES? - 21 May, 2001. Only 68 pairs of gray
whale mothers and calves have passed through the ocean area near San
Simeon since mid-March, compared to 93 that were spotted by May 15 of
last year, whale scientist Wayne Perryman said last week...
* JAPAN STEPS UP KILLING POWER OF WHALE BOATS - 27 May, 2001. MOBY DICK
would not have stood a chance. The Japanese have re-equipped their
whaling fleet with grenade harpoon guns that can catch whales from
further away, and bigger barbs to stop them struggling free...
* SPERM WHALES DRAWN TO WATERS OFF MISSISSIPPI RIVER - 28 May, 2001.
When people think of the Mississippi Delta, a few things are likely to
come to mind -- jambalaya, New Orleans jazz, riverboats, cotton, swamps
and sperm whales. Sperm whales?...
* WHALE CONSCIOUSNESS TESTS TO BE DEVELOPED - 31 May, 2001. Tests to
determine the consciousness of whales could alleviate the suffering of
beached or hunted whales, Massey University said today. Biophysicist
Geoff Barnes and Mike Donoghue of the Department of Conservation were
part of a team meeting in London to work on protocols to determine
whether whales were conscious, unconscious or dead...
* HUGE HERD OF WHALES FOUND OFF ISHIGAKI - 31 May, 2001. An Ishigaki
Maritime Safety Agency helicopter discovered a herd of about hundred
whales, Thursday in an area 7.4 kilometers off Hateruma Island, just
south of Ishigaki Island. Officials who discovered the whales said they
were surprised and had never seen such a large herd...
* NORTH-BOUND ANNUAL HUMPBACK MIGRATION UNDERWAY - 1 June, 2001. The
annual migration of humpback whales is underway along the Australian
mid- north coast, travelling from Antarctica to winter birthing grounds
For more news when it happens visit:
Don't forget our NEWS ARCHIVE is keyword searchable!
Containing over 600 separate news items and links
from Sept 1995 to Oct 2000
Whales on the Net - a world-altnews-net [WANNet] Member
World Alternate News Network - http://sites.netscape.net/altnewsnet/
_________________Dolphin Rescue Action____________________
PLEASE HELP DOLPHINS LEFT TO DIE IN GUATEMALA
Please send the letter below immediately in order to save two dolphins
that were left to die in the mountains of Guatemala.
SEND LETTERS TO:
President Portillo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear President Portillo,
I am writing to you to ask that you intervene in the dolphin emergency
that is taking place in your country. As you may know, the two
dolphins Turbo and Ariel are kept in a tank that is nothing but a hole
in the ground. For months they have been swimming around in their own
body waste, as reported on the front page of the New York Times.
The dolphins are suffering tremendously, and the heavily polluted water
has become life-threatening. The World Society of the Protection of
Animals (WSPA) has already financed and built a sea-pen to allow the
dolphins to be returned to natural sea water, with the purpose of
rehabilitation and release. The air force in Guatemala has the proper
aircraft to transport the dolphins to the sea pen, but CONAP and WSPA
now have to await a permit from the Minister of Defense to carry out
For every day that goes by, the dolphins' health is deteriorating.
Experts have predicted that within a week they will be too sick to be
transported. Turbo and Ariel are going to die if we don't act today.
I respectfully urge you to take immediate action and approve the use of
the aircraft without further delay, thereby ensuring the dolphins'
_____________________A Living Fossil______________________
CHINA: CONFRONTED WITH EXTINCTION
By Hu Yan
5 April, 2001
THE world's rarest dolphin, the white-flag dolphin or baiji, is
expected to become extinct within 20 years. A recent count of the
number of white-flag dolphins, which can only be found in the middle
and lower reaches of Yangtze River, was less than 100. Some experts put
the number at 50.
"The public has realized that the giant panda is a rare species, but
few know that white-flag dolphins are in a more dangerous condition
than pandas," said Zhou Kaiya, professor of the Institute of Genetic
Resources of Nanjing Normal University. The endemic aquatic mammal is
called a "living fossil," whose ancestors can be tracked back more than
20 million years. The Yangtze River used to be an Eden for white-flag
During peak time, there were several thousand white-flag dolphins
living in the river, scientists said. Evidence of the dolphins'
existence can be traced back to 2,000 years ago through a description
of the mysterious mammals in a book from that period. At that time,
human beings and the lovely aquatic mammals co-existed peacefully.
Residents along the river respected the silver-grey dolphin as "Yangtze
River's Goddess" and prayed to them for good fishing. But the increase
in the human population and sharp rise in activity in the Yangtze River
is threatening the lives of the legendary creatures.
>From statistics collected between the 1970s and early 1980s, scientists
estimated that the population of white-flag dolphin was about 400. In
1990, the number dropped to 200. According to the latest and largest
survey conducted by 300 scientists and researchers in 1997, only 13
white-flag dolphins were seen in the whole Yangtze River.
Moreover, only one baby dolphin was observed during many surveys and
observations in recent years, which indicates that the white-flag
breeding flock is declining fast. Experts from home and abroad predict
that white-flag dolphins will probably disappear from the face of the
earth within the next 20 years if effective protective measures are not
Not Eden any more White-flags might become the first dolphin species to
become extinct, not from natural causes, but as a result of human
activities. The Yangtze River is no longer an Eden for
white-flag dolphins. People don't respect them as goddesses. White-
dolphins are tortured and killed in the river. The prosperous shipping
industry in the "golden waterway" of the Yangtze River has brought
large profits to human beings. But it disturbs white-flag dolphins'
peaceful life and gobbles up their living space.
The noise of huge ships disturb dolphins and propellers may be direct
killers of the beautiful mammals. The construction of various dams and
water conservancy buildings, water pollution and illegal sand
collection have destroyed the river's balanced ecosystem. Because they
are at the top of the food chain, dolphins suffer more than other
creatures from water that is heavily polluted by waste water from
factories, pesticide from farms and wastes discharged into the river.
The poisonous elements accumulate in their body during their 30-year
life span, causing diseases, even death. Scientists have found higher-
than-average amounts of DDT, lead and other poisons in white-flag
dolphins. The decline in the number of fish in the river has also led
to a declining dolphin population.
Researchers have found the available food in white-dolphin's habitat,
which is a traditional fishing ground, dropped rapidly in recent
decades due to overfishing. "Dolphins' food are robbed by fishermen
equipped with advanced fishing smacks," Zhou said sadly. Also, illegal
fishing gear used by greedy fishermen such as electricity, rolling
hooks and gill-nets are very harmful to white-flag dolphins. Recent
research showed that 50 per cent of dead white-flag dolphins found by
people were injured by rolling hooks.
Artificial preservation Researchers from the Institute of Hydrobiology
of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have worked to protect the rare and
valuable dolphins since the late 1970s. However, the
environment is so bad that the best way to save the rare white-flag
dolphins is to raise them in
natural or semi-natural reserves. Scientist say that they need at least
20 white-flag dolphins to carry out artificial fecundation and ensure
the quality of the offspring. But catching the elusive dolphins is
difficult due to the small remaining population, the vastness of their
habitat and inadequate methods for catching them.
Over the past two decades, scientists caught only six white-flag
dolphins. Unfortunately, most died because they failed to adapt to the
artificial living environment. Only one artificially-bred white-flag
dolphin, a male, has survived at the Institute of Hydrobiology. The
dolphin, named Qiqi, has been raised for 20 years and is the first in
the world raised by human beings. Qiqi swims lonely in the pool, so
scientists tried to find a partner for him to breed offspring. "Qiqi is
the hope for the future of the species. White-flag dolphins' life span
is 30 years, and Qiqi is 23 now. He has not much time left," experts
The newly developed clone technology provides another way to save the
dolphin from the brink of extinction. Chinese scientist will first set
up the gene-bank for white-flag dolphins, and then research the cloning
of the rare species.
Another endangered aquatic species in the Yangtze River is the finless
porpoise. Their population has dropped to between 1,000 to 2,000 in
recent years. "They might soon face the same dire future as white-flag
dolphins," Zhou stressed. Other aquatic mammal species such as the
white Chinese dolphin and dugong are also threatened by deteriorating
water quality and harsh living conditions.
Fortunately, the endangered species may benefit from the protection
programmes formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture. According to the
plan, five natural reserves and one semi-natural will be set up along
the Yangtze River. Researchers in inspection stations will closely
watch the white-flag dolphins and finless porpoises. In addition, 95
million yuan ($11.5 million) will be spent on natural reserves,
research centres and aid posts will be built to protect Chinese white
dolphins in South China. Experts hope their efforts will raise public
awareness to preserve wildlife and maintain a balanced ecosystem. "The
dolphins symbolize healthy oceans and river. We should keep the waters
safe and clean for dolphins and other aquatic wildlife, and for
ourselves," said Zhou.
Copyright 2001 by Shanghai Star
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