arctic-ice

Environmentalists Call for 10-Year Moratorium on Arctic Shipping Increase to Protect Endangered Beluga Whales

Environmentalists today called on the eight Arctic nations of the Arctic Council to enact a ten-year moratorium on any increase in Arctic shipping to protect endangered beluga whales from the threat of growing ship traffic in their habitat.  The moratorium will enable nations to finalize and implement the “Polar Code,” an agreement currently being negotiated under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), that aims to establish environmental, safety, and shipping controls, in order to constrain industrial accidents and ecosystem impacts in the Arctic. A new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Endangered Belugas and the Growing Threats of Climate Change, Arctic Shipping and Industrialization, comprehensively…

whale

Round up of IWC meeting

The meeting of the International Whaling Commission took place last week in Slovenia covered a range of topics. Here are the main highlights and outcomes of that meeting. Probably the most disappointing outcome, but also the most predictable, is the failure again to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. To get recognition by the IWC there needed to be a 75% majority in favour. The vote only gave a 65% majority and so it failed. The sanctuary was supported by 40 members with 18 members voting against and 2 abstentions. Another major issue that was discussed at the meeting was the International Courts of Justice decision on the whale hunt.…

Iceland reprimanded by 35 countries over whaling

A formal diplomatic protest, known as a démarche, was today delivered to the Icelandic Government in Reykjavik. The top-level protest registered countries’ “strong opposition” to Iceland’s continued whaling, particularly of endangered fin whales. The démarche also objects to Iceland’s international trade in whale products, stating: “Fin whales and minke whales are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I … and we remain extremely concerned with Iceland’s reservation, entered in 2000, for these and other cetacean species.” The démarche was signed by the 28 EU Member States, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand. In addition, Monaco associated…

New report on whaling released as IWC prepares to meet in Slovenia

A new report today calls for the international community and vested commercial interests to take tough action to end Iceland’s ongoing slaughter of endangered fin whales. Slayed in Iceland: The commercial hunting and international trade in endangered fin whales has been jointly released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) on the eve of the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Portorož, Slovenia. Iceland’s fin whale hunt revolves around Kristján Loftsson, a multi-millionaire and the Executive Director of Hvalur hf. In his bid to create a viable market for fin whale products in Japan, he has used the…

Oil or smoke – what’s killing the whales and dolphins of Ghana?

Over the last few years the number of whales and dolphins that are dying along the coast of Ghana have increased. Locals claim that deaths started to happen following oil drilling in the region while the country’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is claiming that local are killing the creatures and smoking them for sale as fish. The latest whale to wash ashore in the Western region of Ghana brings to a total of 21 whales since 2010 and 26 since 2008. The locals claim that the whale deaths have increased since the Jubilee Oil Field was opened and it is the drilling which is causing the large number of deaths. Oil…

Iceland kills first fin whale of the season

Conservation groups are calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its member governments to condemn Iceland’s commercial whale hunt following confirmation that the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf has killed yet another endangered fin whale. The whale was killed off Iceland’s west coast and landed today at the company’s processing station in Hvalfjörður, less than an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavik. The kill, the first of the 2014 season, coincides with a working party meeting of the European Union Environment Council in preparation for the meeting of the IWC in September. NGOs are pushing for governments to take a strong stand against Icelandic whaling ahead of, and during,…

Norwegian minister pledges to push whale meat sales in Japan

Elisabeth Aspaker, Norway’s fisheries minister, has said that she will push for greater sales of whale meat caught by Norwegian whalers into Japan’s markets. She made the promise in an interview on Norway’s NRK TV channel. This is despite Japan having stockpiles of whale meat that people do not want to buy. The minister said, “We have Japan as a potential export country. We must see if we can work been harder promote it.” The commitment was made after a documentary was shown on the weekend that claimed that whaling in Norway would disappear in 10 or 15 years if current trends continue. The documentary looked at the history of…

European campaign warns seafood expo: ‘don’t support whale slaughter’

An alliance of 13 leading conservation groups is this week urging major buyers at Europe’s biggest seafood trade show not to do business with Icelandic seafood company HB Grandi because of its strong links to whaling. HB Grandi is controlled by the whaling and investment company Hvalur hf, which plans to kill 770 endangered fin whales during the next five years and sell the resulting meat and blubber to Japan. The opening of the 2014 Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global trade event in Brussels today coincides with the arrival in Japan of a shipment of more than 2,000 tonnes of Icelandic whale products, including fin whale meat – cut, packed…

Japan cuts Pacific whale quota by 45%

Japan has stated that the annual whale quota from the North Pacific whale hunt is to be cut by 45% – from 380 whales to 210. The start of the whaling hunt will also be delayed for 4 days so that the sailing of the whaling fleet does not clash with the visit of US President Barack Obama. The whalers are set to sail from Miyagi for the whaling grounds in the North Pacific on Sunday 26th April. Japan’s Agriculture and Fishing Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced the reduced quota following  a Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Will Japan return to whaling in 2015?

Papers filed by Japan’s  Institute of Cetacean Research against the Sea Shepherd organisation in the US courts yesterday (Friday 11th April) indicated that Japan may be returning to the Antarctic for whaling in 2015. This would mean that Japan is set to redesign its JARPA II programme to abide by the decision of the International Courts of Justice. Alternatively it could just be that Japan is continuing with its legal action against the Sea Shepherd NGO in order to keep its options open. The document filed with the United States District Court says that Japan intends to return to the Southern Ocean with a research programme that meets the requirements…

Japanese internet giant bans whale product sales

Internet retail giant Rakuten has announced it is terminating sales of whale products through its Japanese marketplace Rakuten Ichiba and has given merchants 30 days to remove them.  The move came after the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), in conjunction with Humane Society International (HSI), launched the report Blood e-Commerce on March 18 exposing Rakuten as the world’s biggest online marketplace for elephant ivory and whale meat products, and the day after UN International Court of Justice ruled against Japan’s fraudulent ‘scientific’ whaling in the Antarctic.  EIA Senior Campaigner Clare Perry said: “The removal of thousands of ads for whale products is a very welcome step and a clear recognition by…

Rakuten named as biggest online market for ivory and whale meat

Japanese online retailer Rakuten – who owns Play.com in the UK – has been named as the operator of the world’s biggest marketplace for elephant ivory and whale meat. The naming comes on the release of a new report by the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) called “Blood e-Commerce: Rakuten’s profits from the slaughter of elephants and whales” released today. The report was put together by the EIA in collaboration with the Humane Society International (HSI). The report highlights how web sites operated by Rakuten hosts 28,000 web adverts for elephant ivory and 1,200 adverts for whale meat. Rakuten owns a number of high-profile web sites including Rakuten Shopping (formerly Buy.com)…

Humpback whale singing affected by seismic surveys

A study of singing humpback whales off the coast of Northern Angola has shown that singing during the breeding season is reduced in the presence of noise from seismic surveying. This reduced singing can have a negative impact on the breeding displays of the whales. The study was carried out between March and December 2008. Using passive monitoring equipment the researchers took sound samples for the first 10 minutes of every hour. During July and also October the survey also recorded the sounds of seismic surveying activity. During these periods the numbers of singing humpback whales decreased substantially. With the African coast becoming an attractive region for oil and gas…

Icelandic whalers find route to market via Canada

After being thrown out of European ports the Icelandic whalers have found a route to their Japanese markets via ports and rail in Canada. A shipment of fin whales meat has been transported across Canada. The fin whale meat arrived in Halifax in the last week of January and was then shipped across the country by rail on its way to Japan. Environment Canada – the regulatory agency in the country – confirmed that it stopped the shipment for inspection in Halifx before allowing it to continue because the fin whale is not recognised as being endangered by either Iceland or Japan. The new route across Canada highlights the difficulties…

Orcas captured to entertain the Olympic crowds [petition]

Two orcas are set to be transported to Sochi in Russia to entertain the Olympics crowds. The two are part of a group of seven whales caught last year by a Russian company just off the coast of Japan. The two will head for an aquarium in the resort of Sochi. Please sign the petition below to send an email to Team GB, the British Olympic Association, to condemn the capture of wild orca whales to entertain the athletes and spectators at the Olympic resort. Email petition closes 28th February 2014.   [emailpetition id=”9″]    photo credit:      Two killer whales photographed off the south side of Unimak Island, eastern Aleutian Islands,…

Iceland signs death warrants of 770 endangered fin whales

Last Friday the Icelandic government quietly signed off the quota of whales to be killed over the next five years. The total includes 770 endangered fin whales and 1145 minke whales. Despite Iceland’s only whaling company having increasing difficulty in finding a market for whale meat the government has decided to continue to issue annual quotas for the killing of whales. The quota which will run from next year will see the whaling company run by  Kristjan Loftsson able to harpoon and kill 229 minke whales each year and 154 fin whales each year. The market for whale meat in Iceland is shrinking and new markets are having to be…

Scottish University supporting Icelandic whaling

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland are using data from dead whales from Iceland’s whaling missions for ‘scientific studies’. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) the scientists don’t see a problem with using the whale data as the whales are already dead. According to an IFAW statement staff from the University of Aberdeen are unconcerned over the ethics and have not referred the research to their ethics committee. IFAW and other NGO’s have previously written to the university about their support for whaling when the University of Aberdeen was named on papers as being in support of scientific whaling. The papers were key documents released by…

Sonar mapping finally implicated in marine mammal strandings

It’s been long suspected that high frequency sonar could cause some mammal species to beach themselves but the connection has been anecdotal. A report from a major scientific investigation into a stranding event in 2008 has for the first time shown a scientific connection between strandings and sonar. The 2008 stranding at Madagascar involved about 100 melon-headed whales. It occurred in the Loza Lagoon system in northwest Madagascar. Today’s report places the trigger event for the stranding on a sonar mapping exercise being undertaken at the time by a multi-beam echosounder system operated by a survey vessel contracted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production (Northern Madagascar) Limited. The independent survey was facilitated by the International…

Humpback whale population doubles in 8 years

A recent survey of humpback whales off the coast of British Columbia has revealed some good news. Between 2004 and 2011 the population has doubled with an estimated 2011 population of 137 whales. The survey was undertaken by researchers from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews and colleagues from other institutions. The study was undertaken in the Gil Island region. Researchers estimated abundance of Pacific humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) using photo-identification surveillance of identifiable adults. They found that the number of humpback whales in the region increased each year, and doubled from 2004 to 2011, resulting in a total of 137 whales in 2011. The…

Thermal camera to help protect whales from noise pollution

A new thermal image system could help detect whales close to sonar or acoustic cannon activities Sound is an important sense for whales as it helps them to communicate, find food and navigate. When humans make noise in the seas and oceans it can impact on whales for many miles. Marine noise pollution can originate from many sources including naval sonar and geological investigations. In order to protect marine mammals from the impact of this noise pollution many states require the sources to stop producing noise if whales and marine mammals are seen within a certain distance of the source. Invariably this involves human spotters on board the ships making the noise.…