Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hark! Is That The Fat Lady Warming Up?

From The Daily Yomiuri (a paper published in English by Japan’s leading daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun), this story: "Antarctic whaling on the verge of disappearing".
"We can't outrun them!"
The paper speculates nasty Nippon's whaling activities in the Sthrn.Ocean may not see another year. As well as Sea Shepherd's actions, low domestic demand for whale meat has made the prospect of continuing whaling extremely gloomy.
Then follows a nice little 'colour' piece, describing the exhaustion aboard the Nisshin Maru factory ship while bolting from Sea Shepherd: "There's no way we can outrun them!" - so officials quoted a phone call from NM on Feb.11th.: the caller sounded completely exhausted. They obviously had not done their homework: NM's fastest speed is about 20kmph, but Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker and Gojira top 30kph and 44kph respectively. One agency offical said, "It's impossible for the whaling vessels to outrun them, unless the activists have trouble with their vessels" (y'mean, like deliberately ramming one of 'em?).
So the big question kickin' around Japan is: what about next season? Will there even be a "next season"? Ministry officials say discussions have already begun behind the scenes about ending Japan's Antarctic butchery.
One anonymous high-ranking ministry official says five scenarios have been studied:
(1) Have a Coast Guard escort.
(2) Build new high-speed whalers.
(3) Replace "research" with commercial whaling.
(4) Continue as now.
(5) End whaling in the Antarctic.

(1) Coast Guard support: there are none that can travel all the way to the Antarctic.
(2) new boats: almost impossible, due to the government's severe fiscal condition.
(3) begin commercial whaling (er...isn't that what they're doing already?): Japan did try to force a resumption of commercial whaling at the International Whaling Commission in June 2010. However, the meeting broke down when the gap could not be bridged between whaling and antiwhaling nations (ie: Japan could not bribe enough support). The ministry official said: "With the suspension of research whaling, there is no possibility of whaling continuing from next season as it has in the past."
(4) continue as per: Sea Shepherd is not the only factor behind a possible end. "Research" whaling costs about 6 billion yen annually (approx.USD$72m). Of this, about 800 million yen is covered by government subsidies, while the rest is primarily financed by the sale of whale meat. Only a one-fifth of the target of 850 was caught this seaon. People concerned with whaling operations are racking their brains, saying they will barely be able to afford to fund the fleet next season.
Plus there're the IWC ban on blue whale hunting - in place since 1964; the ban on commercial whaling - since 1982; and a steadily growing global trend to ban whaling. And from July 2011, new regulations from the UN International Maritime Org. make it illegal for the NM factory ship to operate below 60° south... the area where all the killing is done.
(5) pull the plug: agency officials say a great majority of the people concerned agree that Antarctic whaling is unsustainable as an industry.

Involved directly in the "research" whaling are the government-affiliated Institute of Cetacean Research and companies contracting whaling boats and crew. Ceasation won't cause mass unemployment, as it will only affect about 180 whalers... oh, and the lone gunman in Wellington - the Institute's PR voicepiece Glenn Inwood, virtually alone in his support of a morally-corrupt brutal unnecessary activity.
I believe I can hear the fat lady warming up her vocal chords...

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