Tuesday, February 23, 2010

IWC group Proposes Return to Commercial Whaling

by Hardy Jones

The so-called small working group of the International Whaling Commission has released a draft proposal that would overturn the moratorium on commercial whaling that has has been in place since 1986.

The compromise is aimed at unblocking the protracted negotiations between IWC member countries opposed to commercial whaling and those that hunt whales.

BlueVoice is unalterably opposed to any move by the IWC that would sanction the killing of whales commercially. We believe it is morally unacceptable to kill such large brained, social and, in most cases, endangered animals. There can be no compromise on the murder of such creatures.

The draft proposal must be ratified by the plenary of the IWC which meets in June in Morocco.

BlueVoice urges the Obama administration to mount a vigorous defense of the whales.

In an era when ocean pollution and destruction of food species and habitat already pose dire threats for the whales of the world the last thing we need is commercial whaling.

The draft proposal would allow only Japan, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, to whale commercially. Indigenous subsistence whaling also would be allowed.

Japan is currently hunting whales in the Antarctic conducting what it bogusly calls a scientific whaling program. The take of 900 minke whales plus 50 endangered fin whales are sold commercially in Japan.

The IWC proposal includes language stating that the IWC will "focus on the recovery of depleted whale stocks and take actions on key issues, including bycatch, climate change and other environmental threats."

But environmental groups are outraged by the proposal.

Greenpeace International called for the proposal by to be rejected out of hand.

My old friend John Frizell of Greenpeace says "We are at a critical junction for both whaling and ocean conservation. A return to commercial whaling would not only be a disaster for whales but will send shock waves through international ocean conservation efforts, making it vastly more difficult to protect other rapidly-declining species such as tuna and sharks."

If you believe, as we do, that whales are extraordinary, sentient and intelligent creatures then any legitimization of their slaughter is anathema.

We will be at the intercessional meeting of the IWC in St. Petersburg, Florida in early March to join other major conservation organizations in opposing these proposals. We'll be tweeting and blogging from the scene advising our members via ACTION ALERTS of steps that need to be taken as the meeting progresses.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Global Climate Change - not Global Warming

By Hardy Jones

Its’ freezing again down here in St. Augustine (N.E. Florida). I get up in the early morning hours when the temperatures hit their lows and if the thermometer looks like it will cross into freezing territory I water and cover my citrus. It’s not as frigid as in January when we had to string Christmas lights through the key limes and Meyer lemons to protect them.

Where the cold has really caused devastation is in its terrible effects on species of wildlife that aren't geared for such temperatures. There are perhaps 4,500 sea turtles, some of them highly endangered, that are in a moribund state - paralyzed by the cold and possibly not going to survive. Manatees have been severely impacted, many have died and each day that passes with extreme low temperatures the more of these engaging creatures will die. In January we had large die-offs of fish and alligators in many parts of the state due to cold water temperatures.

Some animals that have died are exotics that the ecosystem is better off rid of i.e. Burmese pythons that have been let loose by pet owners and multiplied in the Everglades. Certain non-native fish that push out local fish are also dieing in large numbers while native fish are surviving better.

Animals that are at the northern limit of their ranges are all vulnerable. And the recent record cold down here is an indicator of things to come as climate changes due to a combination of forces, mostly greenhouse gasses created by human activities.

Let’s be clear about something. What we are facing is not global warming, though the globe is warming. On a global basis January was the warmest month in recorded history worldwide. But in large parts of the United states there have been unusual cold and record levels of snow fall. There are those who disparage and despise Al Gore and the vast majority of scientists around the world who support the thesis of anthropogenicly induced climate change. They are showing either their own stupidity or their dogmatic clutching at anything that will undermine the science that proves global climate change a real and present danger.

These people are generally not stupid. They are ideologues who make a living parroting a line of thought that is bought, literally, by a segment of our population. These are people who twist their own belief systems to allow themselves to make money by falsifying information critical to the survival of our planetary ecosystems.

In this way Fox News and their ilk say the recent cold waves and heavy snow falls prove global warming is bogus. No one should ever have used the term global warming. Huge mistake. Global climate change models call for rising overall global temperatures with extremes of cold, hot, snow, drought, flooding etc. And BTW, warmer air holds more moisture and thus creates more snow so heavy snow is completely consistent with global climate change, even with global warming.

Email from a friend in Vancouver says they are having the warmest winter in recorded history. Reports from Iqaluit in Arctic, Canada indicate extraordinarily mild winter temperatures.

On the other side of the world Australia has experienced its warmest year ever.

Oddly, for a species self-named homo sapiens, we tend to believe what is convenient or profitable. This will have consequences.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Cove and BlueVoice

Louie Psihoyos, multiple award winning director of The Cove, has generously written of the role played by BlueVoice and Elsa Nature Conservancy in bringing the story of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji and the threat of mercury to those who eat dolphin meat to world attention. The Cove has won virtually every film festival it has entered and is now nominated for an Academy Award. Equally important, The Cove has secured distribution in Japan. I am confident that when the Japanese people learn of the slaughter of dolphins in their own country, coupled with information on the dangerous levels of mercury in dolphin meat, the brutal practice that takes the lives of 20,000 dolphins a year will end. Hardy

Louie's statement:

Today is a good day for dolphins and the supporters of Blue Voice. The documentary I directed called The Cove about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji can now announce a distribution deal in Japan. Getting to this point has been a long journey but none longer than the work of Hardy Jones and Blue Voice who were the first boots on the ground in Taiji going back to 1980. Hardy’s work, in collaboration with Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy, resulted in the shutting down of the infamous drive fisheries in Iki and Futo and his work on mercury toxicity in cetacean meat has significantly reduced the demand for human consumption in that country.
The huge international response to The Cove helped to temporarily halt the slaughter of dolphins but the dolphin hunters of Taiji have recently ramped up their operation. In addition, they have installed more razor ribbon in the National Park above the cove and hired additional guards to patrol the area when they have captured dolphins. I believe the additional security is a good sign because it means the dolphin hunters know the world is now watching and their horror show cannot survive the light our collective work has shined on the issue.

I believe we will win this issue in Japan, not because of the inhumanity to animals but because of the inhumanity to man – nobody should be served poisoned meat just because of the ‘tradition’ of a few people. The Japanese Minister of Health’s provisional limit for mercury in seafood is 0.4 ppm (parts per million) but dolphin meat can have anywhere from 5-5000 times more mercury than allowed by health food laws. The dolphin hunters and their middle men sell much of the dolphin meat in Japan as ‘whale’ meat. Dolphin meat is considered in Japan to be a ‘trash’ fish and we believe if the ruse were widely known – the demand in Japan would collapse. In addition, much of the most toxic parts of the dolphin meat, the internal organs are ground up and used in pet food and fertilizer! So even if you are a vegetarian in Japan you can be poisoned by dolphin meat. The earliest signs of mercury poison was in Minamata, Japan where the Japanese government tried to cover up the first large scale industrial accident in history, the first signs of contamination were seen in cats. ‘Dancing cat disease” was the first sign of a problem before it spread to humans and was called ‘Minamata’s’ disease. People in Japan should be on the look out for their pets acting strangely.
There is a lot of work to do in Japan to inform the Japanese people that there is a problem. The government and the media have done a pretty good job trying to spin this film as a ‘Japan bashing’ movie but the Japanese people themselves who have seen it do not agree. The Cove is a love letter to the Japanese people because we are giving them the information that the government is trying to cover up. Both Hardy and I have been poisoned with mercury from eating too much fish so the issue to us is emotional and very personal.

Many dolphins have larger brains than our own and more convolutions of the gray matter allowing for more sensory neurons. They may be more sensitive than were are and we know that nature would never burden a creature with a weighty brain if it were not being used for higher functions. Our responsibility now is to realize that in the next decade our choices will decide the fate of the world. For many people this awareness will begin when they first view The Cove and quickly see how that this tiny body of water is a microcosm of a much bigger problem we all face. But I would like to acknowledge the work and tireless work of Hardy Jones of BlueVoice.org and Sakae Hemmi from Elsa Nature Conservancy whose efforts have been instrumental in helping to create awareness about the issues way before my organization, OPS entered the fight by making a film. There is a wonderful quote by Margaret Mead who said, ““A few thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Hardy and Sakae deserve to be acknowledged as early champions of these important ocean issues.

The changes we seek count on the support of millions of people who believe change is possible. And make no mistake, the fight has only just begun and we will need the efforts of many like-minded organizations working together to solve the many issues raised in The Cove. Please support the important work of Blue Voice because I believe they are not just saving dolphins, they are helping to save humanity and perhaps the world. The awards bestowed on The Cove have been incredible but Hardy’s groundbreaking work made it possible. I believe awards should only be regarded as the collateral that happens when we try to create awareness to solve the issues. Our real reward will come when the cove is shut down, dolphins are no longer captured for human entertainment and we realize that our fates for survival are intertwined by actions we must now take.

For the Wild,

Louie Psihoyos
Director of The Cove
Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society

Unusual Strandings of Dolphins Along Florida Coast

Ten dolphins and one beaked whale have stranded on Florida beaches near the Kennedy Space Center over the last nine days.

Megan Stolen, a scientist with the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute in Melbourne Beach, described the numbers of stranded dolphins as "unusually large."

No far there is no explanation for the event.

It is illegal to try to return the dolphins to the water. Institute Director of Florida Development J.B. Kump said the best course is to try to keep the dolphins wet, and notify experts. Beach-goers who find stranded dolphins are asked to report any stranded animals to toll-free phone number 888-404-3922.