Is Australia's Ocean Protector heading to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet?
I love this time of year in Sydney – its beaches, festivals and parties are beginning to warm up and for us whale huggers we have the fabulous spectacle of humpbacks and their ridiculously cute calves swimming past our beaches on their way south. But always lurking in the background at this time of year is the dismay of hearing that the Japanese whaling fleet has departed for the same Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The media is already warming up with the first whaling related stories of the season and over the last couple of days there has been speculation about whether Australia is sending its Customs vessel, the Ocean Protector, south to monitor the hunt. The ex oil and gas exploration vessel is in Hobart undergoing maintenance in preparation for what appears to be a mission further south (otherwise why has it sailed to Hobart?) but according to the Government it is not going to monitor the whalers.
Whether the Ocean Protector is going or not, we do know that the Japanese whaling fleet is getting ready to head to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for its annual, cruel and wasteful whaling season in the name of science (funny that the Fisheries Ministry makes all these announcements and not the Ministry of Science).
As Patrick said in his recent post, when the whalers left the Sanctuary early last February there was renewed hope among whale conservationists – maybe Japan’s senior officials had finally reconciled that their “scientific” whaling program is uneconomical and unpopular (not to mention inhumane) but we know this is about politics and pride above all else.
Perhaps it’s time forJapan’s Ministry of Science to make an announcement that this gruesome experiment is over, they have enough samples of dead whales (mainly stockpiled in warehouses) and won’t need any further “scientific” expeditions to the SOWS.
This time of year brings mixed emotions, and waiting for news of the fleet departure can be discouraging but it also brings a new wave of determination among us whale huggers. We are in this for the long haul and we have everything to gain by continuing to fight against this outdated, cruel and utterly pointless practice.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to protect whales around the world, visit http://ifaw.org