A 2012 Update on the Global 3-Tier Campaign to Ban Aquarium Trade Trafficking of Marine Wildlife: Part One of Two
Commentary and photos by Robert Wintner (except as noted)
Tier 1: The Supply Side. Hawaii remains an aquarium trade hub, as both a wildlife extraction center and transshipment point from other Pacific reefs in a continuing free-for-all of atrocity, devastating waste, and reef decline.
Stephen Watson. Photo: Paul Everest/London Community NewsMy brother Stephen Michael Watson died on August 29th in the same hospital in St. Stephen, New Brunswick in which he was born in 1958, the same hospital where our mother Annamarie died in 1964. He was the fifth of seven children and the first of us to pass away.
He was also the most beloved. The gentlest of all the children and also the most talented. His art was original, unique, vibrant, intuitively connected to the reality of our planet and the contradictions of humanity relative to the promise and the beauty of this ocean world we are blessed to be a part of.
The grandson of a great Danish Canadian artist Otto Larsen Sumner, he alone of all of us inherited the extraordinary ability to splash his visions upon canvas and as an artist he was never interested in commercializing his creations. He made them available to average people and he donated them to charitable organizations including quite few for Sea Shepherd fundraising events.
Contemplating the Risso's Dolphin on the Eve of the Annual Slaughter
Commentary by Erwin Vermeulen
Risso's Dolphins before the slaughter...The annual Taiji dolpin slaughter is scheduled to begin September 1st. When I think back on the time I spent in Taiji, I don't dwell on the injustice of my incarceration, but rather on the injustice done to the Risso's dolphins.
In my 20+ years at sea I've never seen one up-close. In Taiji I saw them every week and during some terrible weeks, every single day. Terrible, because these were not animals at play in the wild, searching for food or interacting with each other in their complex social structures, but animals scared to death, running for their lives. Running in vain, because no matter how intelligent these dolphins are, they are no match for 12 highly maneuverable diesel-powered boats, driving them with a wall of sound comprised of engine noise and men beating with hammers on steel poles, into a maze of natural, rocky, inlets along the coast until there is nowhere left to go. The nets close behind them. This is the killing cove.
Commentary by Laurens de Groot, O.R.C.A. Force Director
O.R.C.A. Force with UAVThe touring van stops in the parking lot at Cape Cross. A handful of foreigners step out and are immediately greeted by a freezing breeze and the horrendous smell of death and decay. “You’ll get used to it,” the guide promises with a grin while the visitors step on the wooden walkway that surrounds the area.
Eyes light up. Before the tourists, shines the sight of thousands of Cape fur seals at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve – the biggest breeding colony on the mainland in Namibia. Flashes and the sound of zooming cameras fill the air of this cold winter morning. Happy, with a deep sense of feeling one with their surroundings, the tourist enjoy one of nature’s most beautiful gifts to man.
Captain Paul Watson, founder and president, Sea Shepherd Conservation SocietyThe one thing that I have been most proud of in my long career is the fact that after 35 years of interventions to defend marine life we have not caused a single injury to any person nor after some 350 voyages have I had any of my crew seriously injured. I am also proud of the fact that although we have been aggressively intervening against illegal whalers, sealers, dolphin killers, drift netters, trawlers, turtle killers and other ocean life-destroying enterprises, we have always done so within the boundaries of the law.
We have launched and carried out eight campaigns to oppose the Japanese whalers arrogantly operating in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We have not caused a single injury to any of them nor have we caused any damage to their ships. The whalers on the other hand have shot at us, rammed our ships and completely destroyed one of them without any legal consequences whatsoever. What we have done is to cripple them financially by blocking their ability to kill whales and the achievement that I am most proud of is that due to our interventions some 4,000 whales would now be dead if not for the courageous efforts of my incredible crews.
The “2012-2013 Taiji Dolphin Drive Season” is once again upon us and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians are already on the ground in Taiji. We have arrived to the familiar darkness that looms over this small town that tries so hard to disguise the bloodshed while tourists continue to swarm the captive dolphin facilities. Taiji is definitely the unhappiest place for dolphins.
The slaughter officially begins September 1st and once again the eyes of the world will be focused on Taiji. The dolphin killers are preparing their boats, the Fisherman’s Union is preparing their tarps to cover up their shameful deeds, and barricades and police surveillance have multiplied. Taiji goes to great lengths to keep the world from viewing their blood-filled waters.
Costa Rican Government Risks Nation’s Eco-Friendly Reputation to Protect Shark-Finners
By Captain Alex Cornelissen, Director of Operations, Sea Shepherd Galápagos
Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director, Alex Cornelissen, inspects the seized catch of an illegal shark fishing operation in Galapagos National ParkThe Costa Rican government is making feeble attempts to hold up the illusion they care about Costa Rican waters. Ever since Captain Watson was arrested in Germany and heavy criticism befell upon President Chinchilla’s administration for this clearly politically motivated court case, reports have been issued in the Costa Rican media about small scale finning operations being apprehended. Whereas this seems to be a positive development, truth is that it is nothing but a smokescreen. The Costa Rican government is not doing anything to stop illegal shark finning in their waters. It seems that now not only Sea Shepherd is convinced of this, so is the nation’s own media, as illustrated in this recent article from the Costa Rican Times.
Nurdles are often mistaken for fish eggs and eaten by many birds and fish. Photo: Gary StokesFollowing the aftermath of Typhoon Vincent this week, the worst typhoon to hit Hong Kong in 15 years, hundreds of 25kg plastic sacks filled with pre-production plastic pellets (aka Nurdles) produced by SINOPEC Petroleum Hainan are now washing up on the beaches of Hong Kong. Tracey Read of the local environmental group DB Green made the discovery on Wednesday July 25th, 2012 and alerted Sea Shepherd Hong Kong to this disaster. Tracey has just returned from the5 Gyres Algalita expedition, tracking the tsunami debris and plastic pollution across the Pacific.
So far we have discovered 250 plus sacks, of which approximately 50% have spilled their deadly contents into the ecosystem. This is the equivalent of a SOLIDIFIED OIL SPILL. Each sack contains approximately 1 million pellets.The 250 sacks were all on our local beach, we have put out a call to action asking ocean lovers all over Hong Kong to visit their local beaches and check them for these "white plastic sacks of death," and if found to report them to Sea Shepherd Hong Kong who are working with local authorities on the cleanup operation.
The whale-killing ship, Reinefangst - photo: Erwin VermeulenYou can’t say Spitsbergen is unspoiled. The massacres perpetrated by the Dutch and other European countries since the 17th century made sure that even now the once plentiful Bowhead whale is rarely spotted among these islands in the Arctic. There are beaches here, full of the bleached and weathered skulls and bones of hundreds of slaughtered belugas, and the walrus was almost hunted to local extinction. Still it is the scenic beauty and remaining wildlife that today attracts thousands of tourists to these snow-covered peaks jutting from the cold waters.
You would think that mankind and especially Norway, that governs these isles under the geo-political name of Svalbard, would have drawn lessons from that ignorant, destructive past and that the tourist money would be an extra incentive to protect all that is left…Not so!
There are still hunting seasons here, still arctic foxes are being trapped for their fur and, yes, the whaling continues.
Therefore, it was hardly a surprise when I sailed into Hornsund in the South West of Spitsbergen last month, to find in that bay the whale poachers Ann-Brita and Reinefangst with their murderous harpoons uncovered. Even though it has been almost two decades since Sea Shepherd and the Norwegian whale poachers met steel to steel, that does not mean we do not keep track of what they are up to.
Mother and calf Minke Whales hauled aboard the Nisshin Maru. Photo: Australian CustomsSouth Korea is a nation of contradictions when it comes to the killing of whales. For years Korea has criticized Japan for using science as an excuse for commercial whaling.
This week however, at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama, South Korea announced that they want to begin a scientific research project, reasoning that if Japan can get away with pulling the wool over the world’s eyes than they can do so also. The difference being that Korea is openly saying that scientific research whaling is a bogus excuse for commercial whaling but if the excuse works for Japan it will also work for Korea.
South Korea has their own sly way of killing whales. For years they have allowed Korean fishermen to “harvest” whales caught “accidently” in their fishing nets. As a result the incidents of whales caught accidently in fishing nets has exceeded the number of whales caught in fishing nets throughout the rest of the world.