Standing Up for the Whales in Bermuda

The fight to save the world's whales is a global affair and is being fought on many fronts.

During the last year Sea Shepherd has tackled whalers and dolphin killers in Norway, Iceland, and the remote Southern Oceans.

As the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin pursues the elusive Japanese whaling fleet through the treacherous waters off the Antarctic coast, the crew of our ship Farley Mowat are opposing the whalers on the dock in Bermuda.

A Japanese fisheries patrol vessel docked in Hamilton Harbour this week has presented an excellent opportunity for Bermudians to demonstrate their opposition to illegal Japanese whaling.

Bermudian conservationists have organized a demonstration at the berth of the Japanese ship on Friday January 11th. Bermuda is a whale loving nation and humpback whales are annual visitors to the shores of this beautiful North Atlantic island nation.

Bermudian conservationists have rallied to this call to demonstrate against the presence of the "Mihama" in Bermuda.

Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin, presently pursuing the Japanese fleet in the Southern Oceans said his crew are greatly encouraged by the support for the whales in Bermuda.

"This is a Japanese Fisheries vessel, the same government agency that is sending an illegal whaling fleet to the Southern Oceans, the same agency that is directing the wholesale unsustainable exploitation of the world's oceans with long lines. To say there is no connection between the "Mihama" and illegal Japanese whaling is absolutely ridiculous," said Captain Watson. "This Japanese vessel is no friend to the whales, no friend to the oceans and is certainly no friend to Bermuda. I have no doubt that Japan is courting Bermuda for permits to set longlines in Bermudian waters just has they have been doing for years with the steady diminishment of fish species in the Caribbean. Japan is a pirate renegade fishing nation and they should be sent a message loud and clear that the rest of the world will not sit by idly and watch their ships plunder the seas of fish and whales."

The United Bermudian effort to protest against the ship issued the following Media release:

We will be holding a peaceful, polite demonstration in front of the Fisheries Agency of Japan patrol vessel the 'Mihama' on Friday at 3.45pm. The demonstration will be on shore and on boats. The point of the demonstration is to draw Bermudians' attention to the tragedy of the ocean commons where out on the high seas industrial fishing vessels continue to plunder with impunity the world's marine resources through long-lining, bottom trawling, illegal fishing and over fishing. Being an island in the middle of the Atlantic, we should be aware more than most of what is happening to our marine environment.

The 'Mihama' is a Fisheries Agency of Japan patrol vessel with responsibility for inspecting Japanese fishing fleets in the Atlantic.

Given the same government-owned Fisheries Agency of Japan conducts whaling under the guise of 'scientific research', killing over a thousand whales right now in the Antarctic, a Japanese patrol vessel patrolling Japanese fishing vessels is a bit like sending the fox out to guard the chickens. Japan has one of the worst fish conservation records in the world. They have a record of under-reporting takes and fishing illegally. Just recently Australia sued Japan for under-reporting the take of Bluefin tuna in Australian waters under permits granted to Japan by Australia. We have already lost 90% of the pelagic predator fish stocks including marlin, tuna, swordfish, and the great sharks that existed before 1950. A report published a year ago in Science warned that if the current trends of overfishing continue,  every fishery will collapse by 2048.

Our demonstration is simply to draw attention to the fact that the oceans are fragile and that we cannot continue to plunder them at will.

As an island nation we have to be proactive in protecting our backyard. The focus of the demonstration will be the current Fisheries Agency of Japan whaling fleet in Antarctica. Japan has been 'researching' whales with great effectiveness, killing more than 25,000 whales in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. This year the Japanese added 50 humpbacks and 50 fin whales to the 935 self-imposed total number of whales to be targeted for their 'research' so they can study stock structure, feeding behaviour, etc. The meat is sold commercially.

Below is the link and text to the article in the Bermudian newspaper The Royal Gazette§ionId=60

Article published January 10, 2008