We have all seen the disturbing pictures of Japanese whaling taking place in the Southern Ocean. Just this week, the Australian customs vessel, the Oceanic Viking released the brutal pictures of an alleged mother minke whale and her calf, their bloody bodies being hauled up the slip way into the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.Since the moratorium in 1986, Japan has slaughtered over 7000 minke whales in our “backyard” the Southern Ocean under the guise of “scientific research”.
But Japan isn’t alone in their barbaric slaughter of these majestic animals. Iceland and Norway are also taking 1000′s of whales each year.
The amount of whales being taken each season is on the increase. Along side the large numbers of minke whale being taken, vulnerable species, such as Fin (Balaenoptera physalus), Sei (Balaenoptera borealis) and Humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) whales are also on the whaling shopping list.
The Japanese government says that whaling can be sustainable, one minister once calling minke whales “cockroaches of the sea”. They claim that without whaling, whale populations will grow too large and pose a risk to fish stock (these whales predominantly eat krill, not fish). However, for any whaling industry to be sustainable, more reliable population numbers would have to be known. In 1983, the International Whaling Commission estimated that there were around 700 000 Southern minke whales in existence. The current population is unknown, however it’s speculated that true numbers are much less than this.
Whales are not prolific breeders and it takes a long time for populations to recover following culling in large numbers. Depending on the species, it may take anywhere from 3 to 10 years to reach sexual maturity. Gestational periods of around 11-12 months and suckling their young for a further 6-12 months a single female may be unavailable for breeding for at least a year after giving birth.
Who is helping protect the whales in the southern ocean?
- The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin has been in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary putting preasure on the Japanese whalers making life and whaling very difficult for them preventing the killing of many of the whales on the Japanese quota. They have recently returned to Melbourne for refuelling and urgent repairs and hope to return to the whale sanctuary in just over a week.
- The Greenpeace vessel Esperanza has been following the Japanese whaling fleet since November. They spent 2 weeks at the end of Janurary tailing the Nisshin Maru, preventing any whales being killed, saving 100′s of whales. The Esperanza has now left the Southern Ocean and will not be returning.
- Australian Customs vessel, Oceanic Viking is in the area of the Japanese whaling fleet hoping to collect evidence of illegal activities to help build a legal case against the Japanese whaling. Considering the Japanese are illegally slaughtering whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and in the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone, more needs to be done by the Australian Government to uphold these laws.
What can I do to help save the whales?
Signing online petitions is a great start, but often direct individual messages especially snail mail can be more effective. Politicians get 1000′s of emails a day, but actual letters can be a harder to ignore. Unrelenting pressure needs to be put on the Australian Government to do more to protect the whales
They also have advice on writing your own letters, other samples, and how contacts you can send to in Japan and other whaling countries to voice your disgust at their fake research programs.
Does Canon support shooting whales?
Canon is the number one digital camera company in the world. They support many environmental and wildlife initiatives. Their products are used by millions world wide who care deeply about whales. Send this email to let the head of canon know your disapproval of whaling and you want him to step up and put pressure on the Japanese government to stop whaling.
Greenpeace also have another email you can send to the Japanese Prime Minister and other ministers to plead they reconsider building a new factory ship that will replace the Nisshin Maru, hold 3 times as much whale and could mean Japan will be whaling for another 40 years.
There are many organisations calling for donations of not just money, but volunteer and supplies.
The Steve Irwin has a list of supplies they are in need for when they return to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to resume their campaign against the whalers. You can post or drop in your supply donations to their Melbourne office, or send a monetary donation.
Working together, we can put a stop to Japanese whaling and hopefully whaling worldwide.
Do you have ideas for helping save the whales?