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Where Have All The Whalers Gone?

Seriously. As late as the 1970’s, Australia and the United States were amongst the whaling nations. After even the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which is a pro-whaling organization, called for a moratorium on killing whales, nearly all nations stopped the activity.

Picture of whaling in times past

Back when it was harder to kill a whale, we weren’t as much of a threat to them… or ourselves.

Why? What changed? We became to clever, too capable of killing. Where once it was a dangerous and courageous act to go out into the oceans in pursuit of a whale, perhaps kill one or two, men developed power boats and explosive-charged harpoons fired from 50-caliber guns… and the whale populations went from millions to a few hundred thousand in half a century.

Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, describes the scenario in her book, “The World Is Blue (How our fate and the oceans’ are one).”  After millions of years of being the apex predator, the supreme beings of the sea, along comes man, figures out how to make things (fuel and gunpowder) explode, and throws off the entire natural order of things in the ocean by invading their world, by killing off beings as smart and long-lived as we are, as though they were a prey species. Read more

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Whaling Moratorium Stands, But Where’s John Wayne When We Need Him?

The IWC meeting in Agadir has ended in a bittersweet success.  The proposed end to the moratorium on killing whales was defeated.  But only for this year.   That several small nations were disqualified from the vote for various reasons (ranging from unpaid dues to being bought off by Japan for the price of a hooker,) had a lot to do with our success in preserving the whaling ban.  But the battle isn’t even close to over.

Truth is, lifting the ban was intended to eventually put an end to all whaling — supposedly within a decade.  But the best of intentions would not have held water.  Japan will not stop when the agreement says to.  They would just have dropped out of the IWC when the rules no longer suited them.  In many ways, they’ve been doing precisely as they please all along, disregarding the intent of the Moratorium, sidestepping it with that thinly veiled Research guise.   Next year, they can come back with their ducks in a row, and the IWC vote may go differently, giving them a license to kill a thousand minke whales a year, for so long as they remain in the IWC.  This would put Paul Watson and the rest of the Sea Shepherd crew at a major disadvantage, because then they couldn’t claim to be enforcing the valid intent of the IWC agreement.  If the lift of the moratorium passes, then Sea Shepherd becomes a “terrorist” organization.  No matter how ridiculous the killing itself may be, Watson and company would be at rist of being arrested for interfering with a lawful hunt. Read more