Action Alert: Help Gray Whales! No Waiver of The Marine Mammal Protection Act for Makah Whalers


By Kirsten Massebeau

A baby gray whale was killed in the name of “tradition”by Makah whalers in 1999. Some Tribal Elders decried this killing as “non-traditional” yet today the Makah whalers are on the very of getting a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to again hunt gray whales. The gray whales who have come to trust us need your comments in opposition now!

Alberta Tompson tribal elder died two years ago. According to her daughter she was a huge advocate for the gray whale families that visit our coastlines. That can be seen in her tireless work to stop the whale hunt.

After the whale hunt in 1999 Alberta Tompson and others: “Tribal elders pointed out, in disgust, that no traditional practices had been observed, no traditional rituals had been even remotely respected in the killing of the first whale in nearly a century. They did not even know how to butcher the animal, and had to be shown how to peel back the blubber and render the animal by a visitor from Alaska. While one could argue that they simply needed to re-learn these lost traditions, several Makah tribal elders pointed out at the time that those involved with the hunt exhibited no respect whatsoever for tribal traditions related to the kill, nor did they seem inclined to learn”. (Source: Alberta Tompson, Tribal Elder.)

“They say aboriginal subsistence, but there isn’t that many people so poor here that a whale is going to fill their tummies. We are blessed by living on the oceanside, we can catch fish, we can get mussels, we can get clams and all that rock food. We have grounds that could produce potatoes and all those vegetables. We are not hurting, we’re not poor. Even during the Great Depression we didn’t even know we were in it because we were eating.” (Source: EF! Journal, “A Makah Elder Speaks: Interview with Alberta Thompson.”)

Thompson also took exception to the portrayal of aninmal advocates as being racist for opposing the hunt. Said Thompson:

“Some of the people outside [Neah Bay] call anti-whaling people racist, but they’re not against Indians, they’re against the killing of whales, which I, as an Indian, am against, especially for nothing.” (IBID.)

Finally, Thompson was outraged at the claim of “tradition” when those participating in the hunt failed to follow any semblance of Makah tradition in the killing of the first whale in nearly a century. She described the gap between tradition and reality thusly:

“They say tradition, well the first part of whaling, the tradition is you spend a year of a clean life, spiritually clean, and they didn’t do that. Three of them didn’t pass a drug test. I was at court where one of them had a DUI against him and he was found guilty. But he had the common sense, the good sense of stepping down, not getting back in that canoe. But the three that didn’t pass the drug test stayed in that canoe, so this is certainly not tradition. Right over television you see this boat towing this whale… and they towed it until they were almost into the bay and they then switched it over to the canoe…That is not tradition. The gun is not tradition. The way they disrespected that baby killed, by jumping on it and dancing on it is horrible.” (IBID.) (source)

“In fact, it had been so long since any Makah member had killed a whale that, when one was killed by the Makah in the late 90s, no one knew what to do with it”. (Source: Alberta Tompson, Tribal Elder.)

The Animal Defense Media article from 2009, “The Truth about the Makah Whale Hunt

reveals commercial whaling money has played a role in the Makah whalers bid for wavier of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Why, then, was interest suddenly rekindled in the traditional practice of killing whales? Was it really a resurgence of cultural values, a desire to return to the traditions of the past, or even a desire to exercise treaty rights for the sake of the rights themselves? Again, perhaps in part. But it turns out that the machine behind the renewed Makah whale hunt was not really so much about cultural heritage at all, but about money, politics, and cynical commercial whaling interests from Japan and, to a lesser extent, Norway. As it happens, the Makah tribe was getting along fairly well without whaling, and no one had given the practice much thought in several generations. That is, until Western PR firms working with the Japanese commercial whaling industry (make that the Japanese whale “researchers”) came along. It seems that the PR firms had discovered that whaling could be made more palatable to world public opinion if it could be presented as “culturally significant.” In other words, those PC animal advocates would be reluctant to speak up against whaling if a strong case could be made that the killing of whales is an indigenous right sanctified by the hallowed concept of diversity. 
To that end, commercial whaling interests from Japan and Norway kicked in tens of thousands of dollars in 1996 to start a pro-whaling group, the “World Council of Whalers” right next to the Makah territory. Meetings began to ensue between the Japanese whalers and receptive members of the Makah, and money began to flow. It was shortly after this that interest in the “cultural right” to kill whales was suddenly reignited in the Makah tribe. One of the first members of the Makah tribe to suggest a return to the killing of whales was one Dan Greene, who suggested to tribal council members that a single whale could earn the tribe a whopping $500,000 if sold to the Japanese. (Although the terms of the agreement that eventually allowed the killing of whales strictly prohibited the sale of dead whales, Greene and others believed it would be easy to get around that little obstacle. Even John McCarty, the former executive director of the tribe’s whaling commission, indicated that he was enticed by the thought of selling whale meat commercially to Japan.) (Source: The Great American Whale Hunt, by Richard Blow, Mother Jones Magazine.) Oh. Did I mention that the Makah Tribe’s whaling commission and expensive entrance into the IWC was founded on money donated by none other than, you guessed it, Norway and Japan? Yes, this is rather important to add.

Objective data proves whales are highly intelligent beings, but subjective data, “tradition” and “culture” are forever growing and changing. Dr. Lori Marino states it simply:

Dr Lori Marino, a leading researcher in whale and dolphin brain anatomy, notes that the brains of these species have evolved ‘along a different neuro-anatomical trajectory’ to human brains, but provide ‘an example of an alternative evolutionary route to complex intelligence on earth’.

Marino further notes: ‘In particular, the cetacean cerebral cortex (the part of the brain involved in higher-order cognition) evolved along a very different trajectory than other mammals, resulting in a highly unusual arrangement of functional areas and an entirely unique structure, the paralimbic lobe. Yet, despite the vast differences in cortical organization cetaceans and humans (as well as great apes) share a number of complex cognitive abilities, such as self-recognition.  Cetaceans and humans, therefore, are a striking example of evolutionary convergence in psychology among mammals.   These similarities, importantly, mean that cetaceans, as humans, are vulnerable to emotional and social stresses that can lead to considerable harm.  This important point is critical to guiding the ethics of how we interact with and treat cetaceans’.

ACTION ALERT:

The public has until July 31 to comment on a draft environmental impact statement. Follow this link and comment now! 

Sample letter to NOAA

Dear NOAA,

I am writing in opposition to your granting the Makah a waiver, and a permit to hunt gray whales off the Coast of Washington State. You cannot go around the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and allow harming these whales who have come to trust humans, and are loved by whale watchers, residents, and visitors that come to Washington, Oregon, California Coastlines on their way to the birthing bays.

In 2015 there is no “need” to kill whales. The Makah Tribe has access to food, clothing and traditional history. “Tradition” is not an acceptable excuse or objective reason to circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act as it is a subject state. Objective data proves gray whales and all cetaceans to be highly intelligent beings who were almost driven to extinction because of hunting. Today the goal should be to protect and celebrate their existence not harm.

If you allow the Makah whalers to kill whales you will be breaking a law, weakening the MMPA and betraying the whales, the whale watching companies and the visitors and whale watchers that bring money into our local economies.To risk the lives of the gray whales, and the lively-hood of whale watching companies, and tourism for an outdated tradition that has no place in a modern world is wrong. Gray whales are highly intelligent and know when they are being hunted. If hunting is resumed the whales may take a different route for migration negatively impacting tourism on the Oregon, Washington and California Coastlines.

In closing I want to reiterate that I oppose any permit to allow the Makah whalers to hunt whales in anyway. If you go forward you will be breaking a law and taking away the protections for the Gray Whale and all cetaceans by weakening the validity of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which came about for a reason.
It is time to stop all hunting of cetaceans who science has proved are highly intelligent beings, and who already face so many challenges to survive in a modern ocean.
Sincerely,

Risso’s Dolphins are First Victims of Taiji “The Cove” Dolphin Hunting Season 2014


By Kirsten Massebeau

The string of “blue cove days” ended September 16, 2014 as an innocent pod of Risso’s dolphins was driven into a remote cove in a state park in Taiji, Japan where a handful of men captured, and then slaughtered the entire pod. The yearly capture and slaughter of dolphins was made famous in 2009 when the documentary, “The Cove” was released revealing the inhumane and cruel treatment of these highly intelligent beings whose lives are destroyed for aquariums, food, and fertilizer. The hunt that takes place each year from September until March is brutal, grueling, cruel and deadly for the dolphin victims that attempt to travel past Taiji, Japan located in the Wakayama, Prefecture.

For several hours the  pod of Risso’s dolphins fought bravely for their lives but sadly they were no match for the hunters with their high powered Mercury engines and banger poles. The family was driven into the cove, pushed under the killing tarps, and then were quickly transported to the butchers house, the entrance known as “Death’s Door”.

While the Taiji Whale Museum and ISANA dolphin hunters union continue to scream culture and “tradition” this is absolutely untrue. The dolphin drive began in 1969 as pest control and then only a few years later aquariums began buying dolphins from dolphin drive fisheries. In the early 1980’s SeaWorld and other marine parks began to underwrite the drive fisheries began to underwrite dolphin drive fisheries for display. 

 Ric O’Barry states that the “World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has the power to end this if they would stop these captures”. They must immediately expel the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) responsible for blood dolphin trafficking. “They get as much as $154,000 dollars for one dolphin for an aquarium or marine park”. In a recent CNBC interview Ric O’Barry star of The Cove, and head of The Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project points out a graph that shows the slaughtered dolphin numbers dropping ( the meat is toxic only eaten by a few!) while captures for aquariums are increasing. Ric’s wish is to bring Carolyn Kennedy who spoke out against dolphin drive fisheries last season to come to The Cove” and see first hand the terrible dolphin death and suffering that goes in Taiji, Japan and their strong ties to the captive industry.

No Dolphinariums in Europe: June 28 Demo Gives Dolphins Hope for Freedom


By Kirsten Massebeau

Demo Banner by Sasha Alazy

Demo Banner by Sasha Alazy

Demonstrators opposing dolphinariums and captive facilities in Europe are organized and ready to go! On June 28, 2013 they will gather in Brussels with a loud and clear message to Europe demanding closure of all captive facilities. According to the demonstrators captive facilities are in direct opposition to the law:

The European Council Directive 1999/22/EC on the keeping of wild animals in zoos requires that animals must be kept in conditions that meet their biological and conservation requirements. Yet in the case of cetaceans, it is impossible for these requirements to be met in captivity. Because no tanks, no lagoons as big as they can be, could ever replace the freedom of swimming in the immensity of the ocean (source).

Marineland Antibes

Marineland Antibes dolphin show

Today there are 34 captive facilities and 286 cetaceans in captivity in Europe. Those countries include:Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. “WDCS anti-captivity lead, Cathy Williamson states, these commercially driven, circus-style shows may seem like fun but the truth is much sadder”. Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project describes captivity as a life of silence and isolation: “Most captive dolphins are confined in minuscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater. Dolphins in a tank are severely restricted in using their highly developed sonar, which is one of the most damaging aspects of captivity. It is much like forcing a person to live in a hall of mirrors for the rest of their life – their image always bouncing back with no clear direction in sight”(source).

25% of the cetacean population in captive facilities in Europe were obtained from a wild source meaning capture or strand while the captive born dolphins are being bred from small breeding pools. According to born free these facilities breeding pools are unsustainable which will force dolphinariums to purchase wild dolphins: “The captive population is unsustainable. Captures of wild dolphins for captivity still goes on in some parts of the world.

Bottlenose dolphins have last moments together before being dragged to slaughter.  By SSCS C.G. 1.20.13

Bottlenose dolphins have last moments together before being dragged to slaughter.
By SSCS C.G. 1.20.13

The danger remains that if the number of dolphinaria in the EU remains the same or increases that attempts may be made by dolphinaria to import further wild-caught dolphins into the EU which contradicts EU law, too” (source)

Two long time dolphin advocates in Europe Yvon Godfroid and Annelies Mullens could see the unsustainable situation, and the terrible dolphin suffering taking place in captive facilities throughout Europe and worldwide. Independent of all groups they decided to organize a demonstration. They realize that the hunt in Taiji and other places will never end as long as dolphinaria exists. They realize that as long as dolphinaria exists the dolphin hunt will go on.

As dolphins don’t thrive good in captivity the dolphinaria will need “fresh” genes so the dolphin hunt will go on. They have the principle that before throwing stones at other countries you have to clean up your own backyard first. So in order to stop the dolphin hunt they will fight the dolphinaria in Europe (source)

European Demonstration Brussels

European Demonstration Brussels

How can you help the dolphins and get involved in the Belgium Demonstration? Join Ric O’Barry and attend the event in Brussels! You can sign up on Facebook: Demonstration against Captivity of Cetaceans in Europe! If you are not in Europe and cannot attend the even you can still be a voice for the dolphins and support the demonstration by making a donation no matter how small or large to the Europe Must Ban Dolphinaria Demo. You can find more information on the actual demo at: For a Delphinarium-free Europe!!! You can also sign the petition All dolphinaria must be closed in Europe!!!

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Dolphin freedom is so worth fighting for. Together we can make a difference.

Action for Marine Mammals 海洋ほ乳類を守る会 Hold Tokyo March Protesting Research Whaling


By Kirsten Massebeau

Tokyo Whaling Protest MarchPhoto By Michael Q Todd

Tokyo Whaling Protest March
Photo By Michael Q Todd

Action for Marine Mammals  海洋ほ乳類を守る会 an independent, Japanese group supporting cetaceans in Japan has staged their second protest in Tokyo. This second protest solely focused on opposition to Japan’s controversial  research whaling program in the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. In 1986 a moratorium was placed on whaling. Since that time Japan has circumvented the ban by using a clause in the moratorium that allows for research whaling. Despite the Japanese government and powerful Japan Fisheries efforts to keep whaling alive the people of Japan are  speaking out against hunting whales and with good reason. Aside from being inhumane the business of whaling is a financially a sinking ship.

Video by seawooluf1

In a recent report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released on February 5 many substantial reasons for ending Japan’s whaling program were listed:

  • Taxpayers Subsidise Money-Losing Industry
  • Subsidies average around ¥782 million (US$9.78 million) annually.*
  • Demand for Whale Meat Falls While Stockpiles Grow
  • Earthquake Relief Funds and Additional Subsidies Diverted: While other needs went unmet, earthquake reconstruction funds to the tune of ¥2.28 billion (US$28.55 million) were diverted from tsunami relief to support “research whaling, stabilization promotion, and countermeasure expenses” for the ICR.
  • Polls: Indifference to Whaling, Opposition to Funding. 85 percent expressed opposition to the use of billions of taxpayer yen to build a new factory ship. (source)
Shibuya Protest Against  Research WhalingBy MQ Todd

Shibuya Protest Against Research Whaling
Photo by Michael Q. Todd

 Without opposition the march was able to move forward with their peaceful yet strong message asking the Japanese government to end research whaling. 48 attended and the event was declared a success. This small but brave group of pioneers now a voice for whales and dolphins have had their second historical march through the streets of Tokyo spreading awareness to 1000’s. Their’s is a message of peace and hope for whales and dolphins in Japan and worldwide.

 

October 12 , 2012- NOAA-NMFS Public Hearings in Washington, DC


This wonderful post by my friend Barbara Napoles says it all about the Beluga NOAA hearings. The post includes video of Ric O’Barry and a recording of Barbara’s speech to the panel. A very worthy read with a take action link. NOAA/NMFS are still accepting comments on this important issue.

A Dolphin Activist

The team from Save the Blood Dolphins arrives in Washington, DC full of energy and ready to speak at the NOAA-NMFS public hearings  but first we had to stop by the Japanese, Indonesia Embassies and drop off the signatures for the petitions “Stop the Annual Slaughter of Dolphins” with over 9,823 signatures.

As we arrived at the Japanese Embassy a strong gust of wind blew the officers papers away from his podium, Mila and I  helped him picked them up. We made a new friend. (Thank you God of the Wind – Aeolus)

The petition “Dolphins Don’t Belong in Traveling Circus” with over 23,500 signatures also delivered to the Indonesian Embassy.

We are very thankful to each and everyone that  took the time to sign these petitions. Then we head out to Silver Springs, Maryland, The NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service and their Public hearings.

For the first time…

View original post 863 more words

Drive Fisheries Japan the cat is out of the bag


By Kirsten Massebeau Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop

Image

In an article published in Japan the Elsa Conservancy / O’Barry in March of 2012  the captive industry is directly linked to the cruel drive fisheries in Taiji, Japan where dolphins are pushed into a shallow cove using sound. Once trapped some are selected for captivity entertaining people at marine parks, and the rest are then slaughtered. The article is written in Japanese which makes it a great piece to share via Twitter and Facebook in Japanese. Use a translator and get creative. Change will come from within Japan so we must support those who live there and can make that change happen!

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By Ed Johnson
Again a whale death in a rather limited area being impacted by seismic testing . Strand No More has once again delineated the time and exact locations of three different testing vessels that could have been responsible. Great science great read.