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,

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.

 

Behind the Faroe Grind


By Ady Gil Faroe Islands, Koltur

Located northwest of Scotland between Norway and Iceland lie the Faroe Islands a magical archipelago in the North Atlantic ocean. The inhabitants of this beautiful place are the Faroese. Proud descendants of Norse settlers  they have prided themselves for 1200 years on their ability to survive in this remote area. Today the population is approximately 48,565 (source)

Rúni Nielsen, Faroe Islander, and Earthrace (ECO) chapter leader describes what life has been like for the Faroese of days gone by,

I’m Faroese and proud of it. We a very small group of people who have been on the brink of extinction many times. We have our own unique language which has survived intact despite the enormous pressure from 814 years of colonial oppression from foreign powers. The Plague tooks it toll in the 1300’s and again in 1400’s. 400 years of fighting off pirate attacks from the French,Ottomans, Dutch and others. Danish trade monopoly in the Islands prevented a proud and strong stock of weather beaten people to prosper in peace. During all these years, the Faroese kept their society despite dwindling in numbers (at one time approximately only 4000 people were left). We kept the parliament rule and structures in general. During WWII we sailed in wooden ship (sloops) to fish from Iceland to Great Britain where mines, submarines, and fighter planes infested the waters. Unarmed so to speak, each ship had only one single handheld machine gun. But we sailed and delivered the fish to feed a much bigger nation in need and peril. Many 1000’s of faroese lost there lives at sea. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. leader Faroe Islands)

Near Vágur, Faroe Islands August 8, 2012 By Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. leader

On August 8, 2012 a grind took place near Vágur. 196 pilot whales were slaughtered. On the following day another grind took place on the shore of Hvannasund. There 40 pilot whales were slaughtered. The meat is then distributed amongst the islanders.

Total count 459 whales for 2012. Total skins distributed 3279. 1 skin is 75 kg (165.5 lb) of food. 3279 skins x 75 kg (165.5 lb) /skin = 245925 kg (54,2172 lb) of food, 246 metric tonnes (54,2331.6 lbs). Inhabitants 1st of March 2012 48386 (10,6673 lb)  5.08 (11lb 3oz) to each man, woman and child if evenly distributed. Recommended maximum consumption per month pr 70 kg of bodyweight for adults is 300 gr.” This equals 116126 kg (25,6014lb). Over exploitation is thereby 129799 kg ( 28,6157,81 lb), which equals 242 too many whales taken this year already compared to the public recommendation. Keep it in mind that we here have calculated with a share for each and every man, woman and child. It is not recommended to feed to children or women in childbearing age. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)

Pilot whale meat for sale, Faroe Islands 2012. Photo by Sasha Alazy

Why the strict regulations on the consumption of pilot whale meat? Due to worldwide pollution heavy metals and PCB’s have accumulated at the top of the food chain. Whale and dolphin meat is known to contain high amounts of Mercury and PCB’s,

It was Dr. Pal Weihe, Chief Physician from the Faroese Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, and a leading researcher into the effects of mercury on people that eat grind meat, who said as far back as 1998 that his own Government should ban consumption completely to date, this hasn’t happened although a recent advisory notice from Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority (June 2011) halved the original 1998 recommendations from 10kg per person per year to just 4kg with additional notices surrounding consumption by girls and women of child-bearing age, and children. (source)

By Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Faroe Islands near Vágur, the Faroe Islands July 8, 2012

What will and won’t work to end the Faroe Islands dolphin drives? Dolphin activist Sasha Alazy who recently returned from the Faroe Islands shared his insight:

My personal experience from the Faroe Islands is the following: To solve problems, you have to stick to the truth and listen to both sides. Every story has two sides. Insults, aggression, discrimination and hatred do NOT help whales but builds support for whaling in this island country – it makes things even worse for the whales! Interference annoys them and creates solidarity, making things more difficult. We must learn that we cannot solve problems with violence or force change. If people understand this and put that “enemy image” aside, that would be a huge support for the anti-whalers. As my esteemed colleague Leah Lemieux said: ‘If you want the Faroese to become friends with whales, you must first become friends with the Faroese.’ (Sasha Alazy, dolphin activist)

Eco chapter leader for the Faroe Islands Rúni Nielsen suggests three objective reasons for ending the grind:

1. Not suited for consumption because of contaminant,

2.Unsafe killing method – even if immensely improved- different circumstances make in tangent to animal cruelty,

3. Pilot whale could be and endangered species. (Rúni Nielsen ECO Ch. Leader Faroe Islands)

The toxicity of whale and dolphin meat will most likely be the cause of ending whale and dolphin hunts worldwide.

…Earthrace Conservation believes that ultimately, it will be the health risks of eating whales that will end the hunts that outrage the anti-whaling lobby, and not the protests or physical confrontations that make the headlines. (source)

Join the Discussion on Facebook at Positive Changes in The Faroe Islands

Ocean Lover Takes A Stand for Whales at IWC


While the delegates of the International Whaling Commission fought over the fate of whales ocean advocates stood tall in Panama as their voice. Today science has proven that cetaceans are sentient self-aware beings with intelligence equal to mans. Sadly, many members of the IWC use whaling as a bargaining chip to further their own agenda. The United States bundled their vote with Japan and the Soviet Union to protect the Bow head whale hunt, even going so far as to support the whaling in Greenland where whale meat is sold commercially to tourists while whaling under the guise of subsistence. IWC aboriginal whaling quotas were renewed for the U.S., Russia and the notorious St. Vincent and Grenadines known for their slaughter of humpback whale mothers and their babies. Greenland on the other hand was exposed for its blatant commercial use of whale meat losing any quota for whaling. Korea shocked the world as they made a bid to create a “scientific whaling program” which for Japan has been no more than a cover up for commercial whaling activities. Disappointingly the Southern Atlantic Whale Sanctuary proposed by Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Uruguay lost the vote not reaching the 3/4 majority.

Maria Cristina Cely and Lori Neumann Whale Sanctuary fails to pass.

Ocean activist Maria Christina Cely spoke moving words upon finding out the whales of the Southern Atlantic Whale Sanctuary would not be safe from the deadly harpoons of the whalers, “Tough times for those who were present outside the Panama Hotel in the very moment which made known the result of vote for the creation of the Whale Sanctuary South Atlantic. Disappointment, anger and helplessness …. everything in tears”. For a brief moment my spirit faltered once again I was ashamed of the species to which I belong (Maria Christina Cely July 2, 2012).

Maria Cristina Cely taking a moment.

In an interview Maria Christina Cely ocean activist and Sea Shepherd  volunteer/supporter gave us some insight in what it was like to be at the IWC a voice for whales.

Champions: What inspired you to go to the IWC Meeting in Panama?

Maria Cristina Cely: Well, the beginning of the whale’s ordeal takes place at the IWC and I think that is the place to start showing your support to them and condemning the whaler’s decisions. I also believe that they (whalers) need to know the world is watching and that we won’t let them walk away without giving them a piece of our mind. But the most important reason was the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary, the Latin-american countries known as “Grupo de Buenos Aires” were going to fight again for the whales, they stood up and spoke up for the whales and did not sell their votes so I wanted to show them support and respect and let them know that WE were/are proud of them.

Maria Cristina Cely THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS!

Champions: What was the atmosphere like at the meeting?

Maria Cristina Cely: Intense, very intense. You had us out there cheering and calling for the Sanctuary, then you had the delegates from the “Japan group” and the delegates from the pro-whales group and on top of that you had the NGOs. You can cut the tension in the air with a knife, that is for sure. The atmosphere changed after the first day when the Sanctuary proposal lost by a vote, then you could feel the disappointment and the anger but also frustration from the pro-whales parties. The things fired up a little when we rallied Panamanian students and gathered outside the Panama Hotel, the “Honk for the Whales” was a success and we even had some delegates and NGOs come out and cheer with us.

Ocean Activists at IWC Meeting Panama Raise your hands for whales!

Champions: What was it like to be present at this meeting?

Maria Cristina Cely: The IWC brings out every emotion in you. It is a roller coaster, you go from having all this energy and positive thoughts to frustration and disappointment. You want to break into the meeting and tell them how wrong they are and how stupid their killing proposals are, and you look at the delegates and feel rage because you realize this few people decide on the lives of thousands of whales, they profit from them and from their dead and that hits you so hard! It was quite an experience that I will do it again as many times as possible. You have to fight for the whales, the dolphins and the porpoises whether it is in Taiji, in the Antarctic waters, in the Faroes or at the IWC, every fight counts for the final battle, everything counts.

Howie Cooke, Natalie Fox, Nori Neumann, and Maria Cristina Cely Just say no to whaling!

Champions: What did you come away with?

Maria Cristina Cely: We as society need to be more present at the IWC even if it means not being present at the meetings. We need to push more pro-whale countries to take part, because every vote counts. But also we need to push the pro-whale countries to become more involved in working to recuperate the votes of the countries that today voted for Japan.
So I hope I will see you guys there the next time.

Whale Words by Maria Cristina Cely

Together we can make a difference so get involved!

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Surfers for Cetaceans 

Blue Voice

Save Japan Dolphins

Champions for Cetaceans on Facebook

Norway’s Whale Hunt 2011 The Norwegian People Say No More!


By Kirsten Johnson
P7070028
The Majestic Minke Whales Travel Great Distances
The majority of Norwegians are calling for an end to whaling and yet the government and a handful of whalers persist. On April 1st, 2011 Norway’s annual whale hunt began. The government ruled by the conservative labour party have set the kill quota for minke whales at 1286 the same number as less year regardless of the shrinking market for whale meat. Less than 10% of the Norwegian population consume whale meat. Greater than 90% of Norwegians find whaling cruel and a thing of the past.
The minke whale is a filter feeder, second smallest of the baleen whales. The minke is the only baleen whale still commercially hunted. Adult females and males can weigh up to 10 ton and their calves 750 tons. Minke whales give birth to calves that may nurse for up to two years.The minke whale is known to be a fast swimmer, but not fast enough to outrun harpoon ships of the Norwegian whaling fleet.

The twenty whaling vessels, manned with a handful of vicious whalers, set out to sea on April 1st, 2011 in hopes of spotting a pod or rather a small family, of minke whales so they can begin harvesting their quota.They bear down upon pods with mother, calf, and father. With a sadistic cruelty they harpoon the 10 ton whales and then drag them along the side of their ship until they suffocate or bleed to death. The whales may live through this torture for as long as two hours before they perish. My heart breaks for the minke families that they will slaughter today, and tomorrow. The babes that see their mother harpooned, and then to be coldly harpooned themselves.

The majority of people in Norway want this cruel hunt to stop. They are speaking out for the whales that travel through their oceans.

So what happens to the carcasses of the poor minke whale mother, father or baby that couldn’t get away? The government and the  hunters that partake in this awful sport dump their remains in the ocean hoping the world won’t find out. The Norwegian blog spot NA24 wrote a revealing article, “Norwegians Dump Whale Meat”, written by ChristianHansen:

http://www.na24.no/article3124958.ece#comment-179522065.
You can find several comments on the article. Here is one by a Norlander, Benedicte On April 6th
The world is moving ahead, even for the most Nordlander.
Whaling should be stopped!
FSA also warns children and pregnant women from eating whale meat, blah. because of the vast contents of the scroll. mercury.
Do you really eat something like that?
In addition, trapping methods animal abuse.

The whole world looks at us as some dyre plagere engaged in this cruel “hunt”.
Enough is enough!

I can’t help but think of the survivors of this bloody hunt, the minke whales, singing a song of sorrow for their lost mates, children and friends that were so coldly taken by the razor sharp harpoons of the two legged devils. The world wants whaling to stop. Less and less people partake of the cannibalistic consumption of whale meat because they know it is wrong!

In defiance of the world, the Norwegian people, and the International Whaling Commission, the King of Norway, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his labour party cronies insist on spreading propaganda about whale hunting and seal hunting being sustainable. Tell Stolenberg and King Harald V there is no sustainable killing of marine mammals. Our ocean needs her children for the fish to remain abundant. Marine mammals are an important link in the chain of life. Now is time to stop the cold blooded slaughter of whales and all marine mammals. They need to listen to the people of Norway, and listen to the world!
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/smk/The-Office-of-the-Prime-Minister/contact/Questions-and-comments-form.html?id=437545