Subject: Case Study: Whales, Japan, Food, and Fish

Mike Williamson (
Sat, 24 Jul 1999 15:01:44 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 20:48:33 +1000 (EST)
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Subject: WhaleDesk Bulletin - Jul'99                     WhaleDesk (A)

             The official bulletin of
                'Whales on the Net'


--- For some years the Japanese delegates to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have muttered, almost under their breath, that the IWC has no authority over small cetaceans. The IWC says the scope of its authority covers all cetaceans; whales, porpoises and dolphins. But, if the IWC is not in charge then who is?

Seems, the Japanese delegation believes "It is the responsibility of the Japanese government," according to delegate Masyuki Komatsu.

So there you have it. Japan ownes 65 of a total of 78 cetaceans. To help prove that Japan is being responsible the Tokyo Institute of Cetacean Research (TICR) has conducted a study that shows that whales, dolphins and porpoises are "consuming 500 million tonnes of food a year -- three to six times the quantity harvested for human consumption".

The Institute said the results showed that whales were competing with fishermen for limited fish resources and that the huge amount of fish eaten by whales needed "to be taken into consideration in the management of our marine resources", and

"We need to achieve both the rational management and utilisation of these resources, including whales". (Whales? Don't they mean small cetaceans? and utilisation meaning consumption, of-course!)

Are these the people we need to preserve our marine resources?

On available evidence* there is little direct competition for food resources between whales and commercial fisheries. The large baleen whales, with the exception of the Bryde's whale, spend the winter months in the tropics but travel to the Antarctic to feed for the bulk of their annual energy intake.

We all know that the partial recovery of some whale populations over the last 30 years cannot nearly explain the decline in fisheries worldwide.

Also, the Japanese figures are misleading because it was 500 million tonnes of sea food, including plankton and krill, and not 500 million tonnes of fish which was said to be consumed by whales and dolphins.

Funny. . . Japan is the only country in the IWC that is systematically eating its way through every marine resource in the world. What next, a plan by the TICR to teach whales how to grow crops for a better dietry balance and less emphasis on fish in their diet?

[* Dr Jock Young, marine research paper submitted to the IWC.]

--- In March, the United States Coast Guard supervised "the slaughter of a Gray whale" on the U.S. west coast much to the surprise and disbelief of many citizens. Now, it appears the Coast Guard must supervise "the protection of cetaceans" on the east coast! As a consequence of the latest actions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a U.S. Coast Guard licenced boat operator, Captain Thomas E. Rainelli, has been charged with five counts of harassing or attempting to harass wild dolphins with a minnow.

Let me say that again. He was found guilty of harassing wild dolphins with a minnow!
No, not the ship Gilligan sailed on but a small fish commonly called a cigar minnow.

Seems the incident occurred during a June 1998 excursion off Panama City's Shell Island and nearby jetty, a destination popular with residents and tourists for feeding the local dolphin population. Seems also that he not only fed the dolphins but he sold the minnows that were used to feed the dolphins.

The blaggard! A $4,500 fine's not enough. . . throw him in irons, keel-haul the pirate but don't make him do community service in Neah Bay!

"This case sends a strong message that it is a federal violation to feed wild dolphins. The Florida Marine Patrol did an outstanding job in making this case, and we are extremely appreciative of NOAA Law Enforcement for its investigation and NOAA's Office of Protected Resources for its support", said Karen Antrim Raine, NOAA attorney in charge of the prosecution. Her book and talk-show itinary will be published soon.

I wonder if the $4,500 will go towards dolphin research?

Stay concerned!
Graham J. Clarke.

____________________Recent Update____________________

Japanese Whaling


The Japanese appear to be reneging on a promise to stop using electric lances to kill minke whales in the Southern Ocean, says a former Massey University professor.

Neville Gregory, who has just returned from representing New Zealand at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Granada, Spain, spent three days before the conference at a workshop considering the humane killing of whales.

Scientists gave the IWC evidence whales die a long, painful death when harpooned and jabbed with electric lances. New Zealand has campaigned to ban the technique.

"Japan agreed to phase out electric lancing at the last IWC meeting, but they're still using it, and don't know when they will stop. They make a judgment call about whether they use the lance or the rifle."

He said a major issue in the workshop was the taking of small cetaceans (dolphins and whales). New Zealand and the Netherlands had argued strongly that any action plan on humane killing should cover small cetaceans.

"That was hotly contested by the Japanese -- I believe they have quite a large take in the small cetacean category, and they wanted to exclude small cetaceans because they didn't want to open up the opportunity for criticism of the methods used in killing them", said Gregory.

____________________Recent Update____________________

Free Corky


You'll recall that the weather pattern in B.C. this summer has been unseasonally wet and cold, but that somehow the sun has managed to shine on Corky's Freedom train as it rolled along aboard FREEDOM.  David, our intrepid driver, took the ferry across to Vancouver Island after hanging out Corky's banner in Powell River at the July 1st Canada Day festival there... amidst enough drizzle to dampen the event but fortunately not the banner, as it was strung out under trees.  From Vancouver Island it was another short ferry ride to Denman Island.  The day (Saturday July 3rd) started out with rain pouring down!  By the time we started hanging the banner out in the early afternoon, it had stopped altogether... later, when the sun actually came out to make a rare appearance, everyone was beaming!

Corky's great crew was joined by Island helpers who proceeded to festoon the Denman Community Hall with the endless lengths of CORKY'S FREEDOM BANNER... soon, every wall and even the ceiling of the rustic wooden building were lined with images and thoughts about Corky from the children of the world.  Light shining through windows highlighted parts of the banner spectacularly.  Tables and chairs were set.  Outside, sections of the banner were hung along the street and between trees on the adjacent
school grounds.  The Canadian flag fluttered in a light breeze above it all.  At 6pm Denman's Community Forest group hosted a fabulous meal for a hundred diners. As the eating slowed, music began and a weaving line of belly dancers threaded their way through the crowded room.  Singly and together they soon had the crowd clapping, hissing (a tradition) and calling out their enthusiasm.  It was altogether an inspired and mesmerising scene.  As the dancers ended their performance the sun suddenly flooded into the room through Corky's banner... and the crowd headed outside.  Eventually persuaded back indoors, the audience listened attentively to Corky's story as it was told with videos, slides, and Wendy Harford's beautiful voice and haunting song.  Afterwards more fun came in the form of a dance that almost all could join... another inspired performance, but this time it was good ol' rock & roll.  The band, Bijoux du Byou, had the hall throbbing well into the early hours, the MC !
making sure that everyone knew about Corky and especially about not drinking Budweiser beer until Corky's home again!

The next day FREEDOM headed off for another event at Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island... this one hosted by the Friends of Clayoquot Sound.  Ten miles down the highway a connecting rod burst through the engine's oil pan and Corky's Freedom Train stopped dead in its tracks. Fortunately, that wasn't the end of the road or this story... so stay tuned.


cheers, & our best to you all,

Paul & Helena.

You'll find lots of images of the journey at:

____________________Recent Update____________________


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_____________________News Brief______________________

Northern Right Whales.  On June 1, 1999, NMFS announced the availability of revised whale watch guidelines for vessel operations off New England. These guidelines provide vessel speed recommendations, decrease the number of vessels that should be near whales, and recommend using lookouts near known whale aggregation areas. On June 25, 1999, the Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Boston hosted a public presentation on the Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) system to reduce the threat of shipping to northern right whales.  The MSR system will be implemented on July 1,
1999, through a mandatory call-in system that alerts vessel captains to nearby whale movements and gives collision avoidance procedures.  This system will operate year-round for two areas off New England and from Nov. 15 through Apr. 15 for a calving area near the GA/FL border. [Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Providence Journal, Fed. Register, personal communication, NOAA press release]

Gray Whale Mortalities.  As of early June 1999, at least 65 dead gray whales have been reported dead along the Mexican coast so far this year, with possibly as many as 32 in CA, 7 in BC, and possibly as many as 18 in WA.  In addition the number of whale calves migrating north this spring is the lowest ever recorded. Some scientists consider the mortality natural. [Assoc Press, Seattle Times, Canadian Press, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee]

NJ Dolphin Safe Zone.  On June 8, 1999, the Wildwood Crest (NJ) Environmental Commission enacted a "dolphin-safe zone" extending 200 feet from the water's edge, where gillnet fishing and boat/personal watercraft speeding is prohibited when dolphins are present. [Assoc Press, Philadelphia Inquirer]

MMPA Hearings.  On June 10, 1999, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans held a hearing on H.R. 1934, proposing to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to establish a Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program.  On June 29, 1999, the House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans has scheduled an oversight hearing on the Marine Mammal Protection Act. [personal communication]

Activists Fined for Dolphin Release.  On June 10, 1999, NMFS announced that several activists had been found guilty of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act in May 1996 by releasing 2 captive dolphins off the FL coast that were not prepared to survive in the wild. The activists were ordered to pay civil penalties totaling almost $60,000. [NOAA press release, Reuters]

Norwegian Whaling.  On June 12, 1999, a British Greenpeace volunteer received a broken arm and possible other injuries and two other volunteers were arrested and fined after a collision occurred between a Greenpeace inflatable dinghy and a Norwegian coast guard vessel as Greenpeace acted to impede a Norwegian whaling vessel from killing minke whales.  As of June 15, 1999, Norwegian whalers had killed 294 minke whales of their 753-whale quota.  Poor weather is blamed for the slower hunt this year. [Reuters, Assoc Press]

ATOC Extension.  On June 15, 1999, the Office of Naval Research published notice in the Federal Register that it intends to prepare an environmental impact statement for continued operation of undersea sound sources off Kauai, Hawaii, to measure ocean temperature changes.  Public meetings are scheduled for late June and early July at several HI locations. Five-year permit extensions for the project are to be sought.} [Fed. Register]

Macquarie Island Seal Protection Park.  On June 21, 1999, Australia's Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill announced imminent government action to create a 16-million hectare marine park in the vicinity of Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean.  The new park will protect four types of seals breeding on Macquarie Island, and will designate 5.8 million hectares as a highly protected zone in which all fishing will be prohibited. [Environment News Service]

Public Perceptions of Marine Mammals.  On June 21, 1999, the Humane Society of the United States release the results of a nationwide survey of how Americans view marine mammals.  Selected conclusions include 1) about 70% oppose commercial whaling under any circumstance, 90% support the protection of marine mammals over commercial fishing, 90% object to captive display of marine mammals unless the animals are well cared for and demonstrate results in education and scientific benefits, almost 90%
support government restrictions on exporting marine mammals to countries whose standards are less than those of the United States, more than 80% object to interfering with whale behavior for whale watching, and nearly 75% endorse whale watchers paying a small fee to offset costs of whale conservation and management. [HSUS press release]

Cook Inlet Beluga Whales.  On June 25, 1999, NMFS announced that an observer program to assess marine mammal interactions with the Cook Inlet salmon drift and set gillnet fisheries would begin in early July 1999. Results of the observer program will be of particular interest due to decreasing numbers of beluga whales in Cook Inlet. [NOAA press release]

Acoustic Pollution?  On June 28, 1999, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a report "Sounding the Depths" [] on noise in the marine environment, and how this noise could be harmful to marine life. [Assoc Press, Sacramento Bee]

Body in Killer Whale Pool.  On July 6, 1999, a deceased man's body was found in an off-exhibit tank of a male killer whale at Sea World Orlando, FL.  The same animal is reported to have been involved in the death of a trainer 8 years ago at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia. An autopsy indicated that the man had been bitten in the groin after drowning in cold water. [Assoc Press, Humane Society of the United States press release]

*** This News Brief is edited from the CRS marine mammal summary provided to the U.S. Congress, by Eugene H. Buck, Senior Analyst, Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division Congressional Research Service.

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___________________An Easy Touch_____________________


Perth, July 8 AAP - Australians who want to swim with dolphins should not be too worried about new research showing the mammals may have a nasty streak. 

New United States research indicates seemingly placid dolphins sometimes kill smaller marine animals such as porpoises and even their own young, or bite innocent swimmers. 

Today Australian experts warned swimmers to be careful and to look, but not touch, when encountering the mammals. 

But dolphins such as those which charm tourists at the world famous Monkey Mia in Western Australia were not a concern, they said. 

"I haven't heard any reports (of dolphin attacks) there over all the years, but I think they know the dolphins up there pretty well," Dave Mell, chief wildlife officer for the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, said. 

"The majority of the dolphins there I think are females, and most problem animals appear to be males, for whatever reason." 

Authorities have banned uncontrolled feeding of dolphins at Monkey Mia to ensure no-one gets hurt. 

Mr Mell said he periodically received reports of dolphin violence around the WA coast. 
"Most reports are of dolphins nips and bumps, and usually nothing very serious," he said. 

"But it can happen, and some years ago we had a dolphin that rammed a swimmer at Rockingham (south of Perth)."

"Dolphins do respond to certain stimuli, and occasionally you will get one that will behave in a threatening way to people, depending on what they are doing." 

He said people should be careful. "Look but don't touch," Mr Mell said. 

"Certainly enjoy the experience, but limit the interaction -- don't feed them and don't get yourself in a situation where the animal could lunge at you and do some damage." 

__________________* * * * * * *______________________

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