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Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Relief For Whales

This week, two different announcements have given the whales of the world the right to be upset. It seems they can get no relief from the constant pressures we place on their populations.

Firstly, the US Supreme court decided that Navy sonar was more important, so they overturned a lower courts ruling that forced the Navy to restrict sonar practices within 1.5 miles of a whale. It sets a precedent that shoots down activist attempts at whale protection. While I understand the need for national security, it just sucks for the whales off the coast of California.

Then, all hopes of reduced whaling by Japan were dashed. There had been a report that Japanese whalers would cut their hunt numbers by 20%, but the Far Seas Fisheries Division at the Fisheries Agency has announced, "there is no change to our plans." That means Japan still plans to hunt around 850 minke whales and 50 fin whales, the same target as last year. This is in spite of international outrage and pressure to stop the whaling, which is claimed to be "scientific" to weasel around the international commercial whaling moratorium in 1986. Japan's annual hunts have spawned angry protests and clashes between whalers and activists. Japan said sabotage by such activities reduced its catch to 551 whales last season.

Had Japan reduced its numbers, it would have been an encouraging sign that international opposition to scientific whaling was having an effect. Unfortunately, the targeting numbers have only increased since 1987, more than doubling between 2004 and 2006. And they have made it clear they see no need to stop whaling - and have no intention of doing so.

So that's two strikes against the world's whales in one week. Can't they catch a break?

1 comments:

Ken Albin said...

As a fellow biologist it sickens me how the Supreme Court places the wishes of the Navy over the lives of these animals. As far as Japan goes, don't even get me started!