This morning (February 20, 2013) the news from Down Under reported that Japan has halted its whale hunt in the Great Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Amidst Japanese concussion grenades and water cannons the Sea Shepherd fleet of four boats successfully disrupted the Japanese whalers from refueling.
There's 18 days left on the self-proclaimed Japanese whaling agenda and there is every reason to believe this antiquated, subsidized, profligate and ruthless practice will end early, and end for good.
Reverend Dr Dave Randle is a remarkable fellow; amongst his many adventures and accomplishments he was our mutual friend - John Denver's environmental and political adviser. We both agreed that John would be deeply disturbed that whaling - after 1.5 million whales have been slaughtered in the 20th century - was still occurring in the 21st century.
This morning Dr Dave shared with me his eulogy from John's funeral. John Denver loved life and when I think of him - I think of his song: I want to Live, which was inspired by the Roaring Forks River (a tributary of the mighty Colorado River) where some deer came down to drink and John watched.
"Have you gazed out on an Ocean seen the breaching of a whale?
Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?
Have you heard the song the humpback hears five hundred miles away
Telling tales of ancient history of passages and home?
I want to live I want to grow
I want to see I want to know
I want to share what I can give
I want to be I want to live"
I Want To Live, by John Denver
As a conservation biologist I am charged with maintaining Earth's genetic tapestry. Slaughtering whales in a sanctuary is wrong, and I will explain why shortly; but for the meantime just try and imagine in your mind's eye where the Sea Shepherd fleet is -- some 1,380 miles from the South Pole.
It's summertime in the Antarctica with 24 hours sunlight. Temperatures are hovering around 14 F and the seas are bejeweled with thousands of icebergs many larger than the island of Manhattan and all displaying breathtaking arrays of color ranging from blues, indigoes and even emerald greens.
Vast plumes of plankton and krill are feeding baleen or filter feeding whales including humpbacks. Humpback propel themselves completely out of the water when they breach. Renowned for their singing - in all male groups; these distinct songs can travel thousands of miles across an entire ocean basin, and are continuously improvised by large groups of whales from one year to the next - completely changing after a decade or so.
Sanctuary's protect all life. Why then are the Japanese killing whales in the Great Southern Ocean Sanctuary?
Japan claims they are conducting 'vital scientific research' but in reality they are using a loophole in an international ban on whaling, and they make no secret of the fact these animals eventually wind up on dinner plates.
Let me tell you why this is so very wrong:
A recent report released in Tokyo by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) clearly shows that taxpayers dollars have been sunk into a failing and unwanted industry that is providing whale-meat for a "few people."
Since 1988 Japan has massacred about 14,000 whales with little (if any) meaningful scientific research having resulted. The Japanese government has squandered $400 million to keep afloat a brutal and blood-lusting whaling industry that over the past 15 years has stockpiled 5,000 tons of unwanted whale-meat in cold storage. Moreover, the consumption of whale meat today is about 1 percent of its peak from the early 1960s.
The fact that $29 million was siphoned from the tsunami 2011 Earth Quake Recovery Fund and placed into a subsidized whaling program is repugnant and unacceptable.
Furthermore, the IFAW study claims that the Japanese government has engaged in a concerted effort to change direction of the International Whale Commission by recruiting new members to vote on its side by linking overseas development aid to support votes.
Japan is in contempt of an Australian federal court ruling in 2008 forbidding them from killing whales in Australia's Antarctic Territory. Yet on February 16 (2013) the Japanese whalers deliberately killed a minke whale 50 miles from Australia's Davis Research base on Antarctica's coastline.
Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and observer on the SSS Steve Irwin, lucidly outlines the six reasons why Japan defends its whaling - each of them explains the outdated and corrupt reasoning, and sense of entitlement of the old-guard Japanese politicians.
Watson aptly concludes: "What Japan should be doing is using some of this money to train the whalers to find a productive job - one that does not need to be supported as a welfare project."
Despite Japan spending some of the $29 million siphoned from the tsunami recovery fund (meant for the Japanese victims) to seek a legal injunction in the United States preventing Sea Shepherd USA from fundraising and operating in the Antarctica in 2013 to protect the whales, its Australian and Dutch arms have very successfully restricted the Japanese whalers from slaughtering less than a dozen whales in the 2013 season (so far).
On behalf of all concerned citizen's globally - I want to personally thank Captain Paul Watson, Operation Zero Tolerance campaign leader Dr Bob Brown and the four captains and 120 crew members representing 26 nations for interceding in 'The War Against Nature' and protecting the Southern Hemisphere whales, in an international sanctuary, from subsidized poachers.