Friday, November 23, 2007

Douche Bags Of The Week: Japanese Whalers

What I don't understand is why, after 40 years of not needing whales, all of a sudden it is so important to kill these creatures?

Japanese whalers, and their supporters, are my Douche Bags of the Week.

A defiant Japan embarked on its largest whaling expedition in decades, targeting protected humpbacks for the first time since the 1960s despite international opposition. An anti-whaling protest boat awaited the fleet offshore.

Bid farewell in a festive ceremony in the southern port of Shimonoseki, four ships headed for the waters off Antarctica, resuming a hunt that was cut short by a deadly fire last February that crippled the fleet's mother ship.

Families waved little flags emblazoned with smiling whales [My Notation: WTF? Smiling whales? Do they have a harpoon stuck in them?] and the crew raised a toast with cans of beer, while a brass band played "Popeye the Sailor Man." Officials told the crowd that Japan should not give into militant activists and preserve its whale-eating culture. [My Notation: Which, again, seemed to survive just fine for the past 40 years.]

The whalers plan to kill up to 50 humpbacks in what is believed to be the first large-scale hunt for the once nearly extinct species since a 1963 moratorium in the Southern Pacific put the giant marine mammals under international protection. The mission also aims to take as many as 935 minke whales and up to 50 fin whales in what Japan's Fisheries Agency says is its largest-ever scientific whale hunt. The expedition lasts through April.

Japan says it needs to kill the animals in order to conduct research on their reproductive and feeding patterns. [My Notation: What a crock of shit.] While scientific whale hunts are allowed by the International Whaling Commission, or IWC, critics say Japan is simply using science as a cover for commercial whaling.

An IWC moratorium on commercial whaling took effect in 1986, but Japan — where coastal villages have hunted whales for hundreds of years — has killed almost 10,500 mostly minke and Brydes whales under research permits since then. [My Notation: Ummmm, 10,500 for research? So where are all the research papers generated from this "research"?] Tokyo has argued unsuccessfully for years for the IWC to overturn the moratorium.

Humpbacks feed, mate and give birth near shore, making them easy prey for whalers, who by some estimates depleted the global population to just 1,200 before the 1963 moratorium. The southern moratorium was followed by a worldwide ban in 1966. Since then, only Greenland and the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have been allowed to catch humpbacks under an IWC aboriginal subsistence program. Each caught one humpback last year, according to the commission. Japanese fisheries officials insist the population has returned to a sustainable level and that taking 50 of them will have no impact.
Robert Wyland has done an incredible job of rasing the visilbity of the plight of the oceans through his impressive outdoor murals and his Wyland Foundation. Living in southern California for 20 years and spending a lot of time in Laguna Beach, I had the pleasure of seeing these stunning Wyland paintings on a regular basis. There are Whaling Walls around the world.

Whaling Wall #1 "Gray Whale and Calf" In Laguna Beach, CA
This is Robert Wyland's first whaling wall in his home town of Laguna Beach. Pacific Coast Highway is on the left, the Pacific Ocean on the right.

Whaling Wall #12 "Laguna Coast" In Laguna Beach, CA
Wyland stands in front of his 12th mural on the outside of his first gallery located on Laguna Canyon Road about .5 mile inland from the ocean.

Whaling Wall #33 "Planet Ocean" In Long Beach, CA
This mural encompasses the outside of the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. In the middle background, you can see the Queen Mary which was converted to a hotel and event space and is no longer seaworthy. Behind the boat in the white dome, Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose airplane is on display. In the photo you can also see the loading cranes for the Port of Long Beach and the outline of Catalina Island (behind the smog/marine layer) at the top right.

So far Wyland has completed 95 Whaling Walls since painting the first life-size mural in 1981. He plans to complete 100 walls by the year 2011, each dedicated to the great whales and other life in our oceans.


Doralong said...

Here's hoping for amazingly horrible weather..

Rat bastards.

michael sean morris said...

There's a clause in the International Whaling Treaty that says a nation can take whales for scientific study, and sure enough in Japan the whalers operate under this scientific rubric. Except the only people who study the whales they catch are chefs.

Last month's Vanity Fair had a great article about the efforts of Paul Watson to bedevil Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. More power to him, I say.

tater said...

Here's hoping they hit icebergs and all go down with their ships. Wonder if Green Peace will attempt to foil them. Hope someone can.

RG said...

Whale blubber is absolutely delicious.

Al said...

Wylands art is truly amazing.

michael sean morris said...

If you love these, you'll really love David Blackwood.