Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Horrifying new Footage of Dolphin Hunt at Taiji

by Hardy Jones

Dieter Hagmann, a very brave German videographer has sent us footage showing what we believe proves the slaughter of bottlenose dolphins continues at Taiji, Japan. For a while it had been hoped that media exposure of the ghastly hunt had stopped or slowed the hunting of dolphins for meat. Then it was hoped that at least bottlenose dolphins would be spared. But it is now clear it is business as usual at Taiji.

We at BlueVoice are resolved that in 2010 we will deliver a blockbuster against the hunting of dolphins in Japan. I can't discuss the exact nature of this move but there are some very compelling reasons why humans should not eat dolphin meat. We will make these known backed up by hard scientific data.

The accompanying video is highly graphic. I publish it so the world will know what is going on in Japan.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


By Hardy Jones

Recently the capability of web networking enabled some opposed to the ghastly slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands to set this crime before the world. The tone of the communications that we at BlueVoice and so many others received was that this was the first revelation of these events. There was a desperate call to “do something.”
In fact, various environmental groups including
www.eia-international.org and www.animalfund.org have worked for decades to stop the “grind” as it is called. And yet it continued. But in 2007 something occurred that did at least slow down the killing. Danish and Faroes health authorities warned that pilot whale meat contains dangerous levels of mercury that can lead to Parkinson’s disease and heart problems among other health problems. That warning collapsed the market for pilot whale meat and the hunts subsided for a period of nearly two years.
There is some indication that there is a vast quantity of pilot whale meat in storage already so there is no need to carry out further hunts. But in early 2009 at least one took place.
As Bill Rossiter of Cetacean Society International recently wrote, “We're all concerned with the best way to deal with these bloody hunts, but, in the past, whenever NGOs go public against the hunt, the grinds begin again. There had been no hunts for more than sixteen months but at the very end of January 2009, when the emails started to circulate and get media coverage (especially in the UK and India) the grinds began again.”
There is no way to know if there is a cause/effect going on here but Danish environmental groups, very much in touch with the situation in the Faroes, advise against further protest at this time.


A similar case involves a request that letters of protest be sent to Japan’s new Minister of Health who has expressed concern about mercury in food sold in Japan, which would certainly include highly tainted dolphin meat.
It is my observation that protests sent to Japan to end whaling and dolphin killing have not worked over the course of thirty or more years. In the late 1970s and 80s a massive effort was made to organize a boycott of Japanese goods. This had no discernable impact on Japan’s whaling policy and coincided with an exponential growth in the import of Japanese products to the United States.
Furthermore, if a Japanese minister were to contemplate changing regulations dealing with dolphin hunting, protests from foreigners (gaijin) would be counter-productive. No Japanese official could appear to be bowing to foreign pressure.
It is my belief, now that the major impact of The Cove may have run its course and dolphin hunting continues as usual, that food safety issues will destroy the market for dolphin meat in Japan as it has in the Faroes.
That is where BlueVoice is putting our energies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Can Japan Continue Antarctic Whaling

Japan Vows to Continue Factory Ship Whaling

by Hardy Jones

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has threatened international legal action after the new Japanese government declared its intent to continue whaling.

Two weeks ago Japanese officials said the government would not support industries that were loosing money and required substantial subsidies to continue operations. That would have included the whaling industry and the withdrawal of subsidies would have forced a closure of Antarctic whaling operations based around the factory ship Nisshin Maru. Now Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada says there is no need to discontinue whaling.

The Japanese statement comes as the factory ship Nisshin Maru and its associated killer boats along with an escort of security ships, begins whaling in Australian Antarctic Territory waters.

Australia has traditionally been among those who have taken the strongest stand against whaling.
''Let me be very clear,'' Mr. Rudd said. ''If we cannot resolve this matter (whaling in the Antarctic) diplomatically, we will take international legal action.''

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea could impose an injunction to halt whaling 14 days after a case is lodged.

Other factors may force the end of factory ship whaling. The Nisshin Maru contravenes new rules proposed by the United Nations International Maritime Organization for ships operating in the Antarctic in at least three ways: The heavy fuel oil it uses would be banned; its hull-strength and safety would fail new requirements; and its annual
dumping of thousands of tons of offal at sea is rejected in the global nature reserve.

The regulations were backed by the Antarctic Treaty System after a series of accidents involving cruise ships. The Nisshin Maru itself has caught fire at least twice, on one occasion in Antarctic waters. The potential posed by this out of date factory ship for an environmental catastrophe in one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas is obvious.

One factor holding Japan’s feet to the fire should all the above-mentioned regulations be enforced is that Japan desperately wants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Violating UN regulations would hardly be helpful in achieving that goal.

It may well be that Japan will not want to appear to be knuckling under pressure from environmental groups but would silently be grateful for UN regulations that would force the end of its unprofitable and highly objectionable whaling practices.

Talks have continued over recent years at the International Whaling Commission in hopes of finding common ground between whaling nations and those nations that oppose it.

But there can be no compromise between those who kill whales and those who consider them sentient, intelligent beings. You cannot say “a little murder is OK.”

BlueVoice has published a white paper entitled “A Shared Fate” detailing levels of contamination in people who eat whale and dolphin meat. Mercury poisoning is a well-known threat but there is also evidence from Japanese scientists that diseases such as brucellosis are developing in whales. These are diseases that could spread to humans.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Humpback Whale Rescues Baby Seal

Scientists Robert L Pitman and John W Durban sailed to the Antarctic in search of killer whales - killer whales that eat seals, catching them by forcing or tipping them off ice flows.

While they observed the unfolding of such an event, a group of humpback whales arrived on the scene. Pitman and Durban watched as one seal, swept into the water by the orca, swam towards the humpbacks.

As the killer whales moved in, the seal leapt onto the vast
ribbed belly of a humpback, and nestled in the animal's armpit. And when a wave threatened to put the seal back in harm’s way, the humpback used its massive fifteen foot long flipper to help it back on.

"Moments later the seal scrambled off and swam to the safety of a nearby ice floe," wrote the scientists. They believe the seal triggered a maternal defense mechanism in the humpbacks. Scientists have to talk that way. Normal people would say that the humpback which has a huge brain and lives in close societies had empathy for the seal just as any of us might. WE do not credit animals with higher brain functions, even though the anatomy of their brains shows they clear have that capacity. Here's a question for you: what would the consequences be if we really got it that animals have minds, emotions and feelings. Ponder that one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oceana's Hugely Successful 2009

December 1, 2009 by Hardy Jones

BlueVoice grew out of American Oceans Campaign which was later absorbed by Oceana. BlueVoice then became a fully independent 501 c 3 but continues to work closely with Oceana. Today I am sitting in as a member of the Oceana Ocean Council, on the annual Washington DC board meeting.

The work that Oceana does is stunningly impressive. As Ocean conservation NGOs go Oceana is well funded. And they use these funds to excellent purpose. The organization is highly dedicated to specific goals that are attainable.

By the end of the presentations on 2009 activities I was enormously encouraged. Oceana has proven that it packs a punch. Successes like this prove big battles can be won.

Some of the victories achieved during the previous year include:

Protection of Sea Turtles from longlines in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nearing passage of a bill that would prohibit landing sharks without their fins attached. This would prevent the deplorable practice of catching sharks, cutting off their fins, and dumping the rest of the shark back into the ocean alive to die a torturous death by drowning.

Winning protection for bluefin tuna.

Having contributed to converting five chlorine plants in the United States to processes that do not produce mercury, Oceana is working to convert the final four.

Currently working to get congress to pass a resolution that recognizes ocean acidification to be another of the damaging results of CO2 emissions.

Helped stop (for now) expansion of oil and gas expansion in the U.S. Arctic.

Closed the U.S. Arctic to industrial fishing.

Supported legislation that now protects krill in federal waters of the California current.

Reached agreement with fishermen to protect deep water corals off coast of Florida.

I always come away from these board meetings inspired by Ocean’s work. It is reassuring to know that a powerful ocean conservation organization is working so effectively to protect the seas and its creatures.