Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Japan Invades Australian Territorial Waters

Whales are a Brisbane thing. It's a common pastime to rush to the water between the months of July and November to watch the mass migration that careens down the coast (see map below) as the many pods make their way to Antarctic waters. Local newspapers often signal their arrival and offer souvenir liftouts from their centre pages, school groups flock to shoreline and when dolphins cruise the canals of the Gold Coast, the euphoria is tangible.

Young Great Southern Humpback Whale
Moreton Bay, (Brisbane) in August

Dots along the coastline offer popular launch spots for whalewatching enterprises where one can get close - but not too close - to these beautiful creatures. Distances between boat and mammal are regulated by Australian law. Less than 300m cops a hefty fine. For Migaloo, the white whale, the distance is 500m as he has been afforded special environmental protection.

Commonwealth Map - Queensland Coast

This legislation would tell you that the Australian government considers this precious animal an asset and something worth protecting.

And yet, inexplicably, it is allowing Japan to enter our waters and hunt these animals and to do so for the purposes of commercial fishing thinly disguised as research. Worse, this year, Japan now has the Humpback on its trafficking list and the total quota is set at 1,050. Traditionally, the Japanese have been known to take much more.

In their actions, Japan is violating the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the Antarctic Treaty, the rules of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, International Maritime law and the moratorium of the International Whaling Commission.

New Zealand government is monitoring NZ waters with their Air Force.

Their Australian counterpart is...sitting on its hands.

It's so hard to remain apolitical on a blog such as this. After all, I bring you pictures of my corner of the world. But I will say this.

The Nisshin Maru isn't a little boat. It's not an impoverished fishing vessel or a heroin smuggler. It's a factory ship. Built to kill, this vessel holds whales underwater and electrocutes them. They are often cleaved while alive and it takes half and hour for death to arrive, often as a sweet release from the incredible carnage wreaked on their majestic bodies.

They are then chopped up and processed, their entrails thrown back into the sea.

With the new quota posted, Migaloo is now under direct threat and he is currently in Antarctic waters. There are a glut of feelings I have here but will allow the pictures to speak instead.

I offer you these pictures as a snapshot of the world I live in and hopefully not as an obituary.

One of many articles of excitment at Migaloo's sighting earlier this year off the Queensland coast. This one is from the Cairns Post.

Photos of Migaloo ('white fella') from ABC and The Courier Mail, Qld

* If you want to do something, please visit http://www.seashepherd.org

1 comment:

R&R in The Netherlands said...

These giants of the ocean deserve better. Nice post.