News





08.04.2017

Japan's Antarctic whaling continues


The Japanese whaling fleet has returned to the port city of Shimonoseki, having reportedly slaughtered its 2017 “quota” of 333 minke whales.   Once more, the Japanese Government had authorised the Nisshin Maru and its fleet of harpoon-equipped chaser vessels to conduct the hunt in the name of scientific research. And once more, after a few tissue samples were taken from each whale, they were butchered, packaged and frozen aboard the factory More...


08.04.2017

Japanese whaling in the North Pacific - more whales to be killed, more trickery


Now back in port after their 2017 Antarctic whaling season, the Japanese whaling fleet is being made ready to sail out once more, to continue its less publicised scientific permit whaling activities in the North-west Pacific.   In November last year (2016), one month after the biennial meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan circulated a document: Proposed Research Plan for New Scientific Whale Research Program in the More...


05.09.2016

Cherish the complexity of the web of life


September is nationally observed as Biodiversity Month, in recognition of the complexity and significance of the ecosystems that sustain the natural environment. Healthy ecosystems are also important to humans for a range of economic, recreational and cultural reasons.   Not so long ago, for example, mangrove forests were considered by many to be mosquito infested wastelands, waiting to be destroyed and the land ‘reclaimed’ for development. More...


27.03.2016

Time to stop raising concerns and start raising the stakes


The Japanese whaling fleet has returned to Shimonoseki, reportedly having taken 333 minke whales. The quota, issued by the Japanese Government under the International Whaling Commission (IWC) “Scientific Whaling” loophole, marks the beginning of Japan’s twelve-year Antarctic whaling program, NEWREP-A.   Hastily contrived after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) instructed Japan to discontinue its previous program (JARPA II) in 2014, More...


28.02.2016

Nothing new about NEWREP-A


A Japanese floating slaughterhouse, accompanied by whale pursuit vessels, is roaming the Southern Ocean in search of minke whales. Painted in English along the sides of each vessel, in letters up to 4 metres high, is the word “RESEARCH”.   Japan has again, as we feared, issued its whalers “scientific permits” to kill minke whales in Antarctic waters this season.   In March 2014 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in an action brought More...


27.02.2016

A reprieve for Icelandic fin whales this year


With the summer whaling season approaching in Iceland there are signs that fin whales, at least, might be spared the harpoon this year.   Hvalur HF, Iceland’s major whaling company, has told local media that fin whales would not be targeted because of problems with its major market, Japan.   The Government of Iceland issues annual commercial whaling permits to its whaling companies, despite the International Whaling Commission (IWC) global More...


30.11.2015

People rally ahead of Paris climate talks


Concerned citizens have gathered and marched in their thousands to express their concern about the lack of prompt and decisive government action on climate change.   Peoples Climate March events have taken place in all Australian capital cities and more than 50 regional centres across the country since friday evening. In Brisbane, around 5,000 people gathered in Queens Park before a march from the CBD to Southbank. Speakers at the rally More...


22.11.2015

Japanese whalers fined $1 million for taking whales in Australian waters


In an action brought against Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd by Humane Society International (HSI), the Federal Court of Australia has found the Japanese whaling company guilty of contempt of court for continuing to kill whales within the Australian Whale Sanctuary (AWS). Kyodo has been ordered to pay fines totalling A$1 million.   The contempt case was based on a ruling by the Federal Court in 2008, in another proceeding initiated by HSI. The More...


19.07.2015

IWC Scientists find Japan's lethal research unjustified


At present, it looks as though the Japanese Government might send its whaling fleet to the Antarctic again this summer. In a landmark decision last year the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favour of Australia, finding that Japan’s “scientific whaling” program, known as JARPA II, should not continue. In a blatant effort to sustain its commercial whaling industry, Japanese scientists have hastily drafted a new scientific More...


19.04.2015

Japan's scientific whaling proposal rejected by Whaling Commission scientists


After the International Court of Justice (ICJ) instructed Japan in 2014 to revoke the self-issued “scientific whaling” permits that have allowed its whalers to kill whales in the Antarctic, and to refrain from issuing further such permits, the Japanese Government announced that it would abide by the judgment, insisting that it “places a great importance on the international legal order and the rule of law as a basis of the international More...


26.01.2015

Antarctic whales' reprieve likely to be short lived


Two Japanese whale catcher vessels are in Antarctic waters once again to conduct scientific research. Unlike their previous "research" voyages over the past twenty eight years however, the vessels are not armed with explosive harpoons.   In 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favour of the case brought against Japan by Australia and instructed that Japan’s lethal scientific whaling program (JARPA II) was illegal and More...


23.08.2014

More right whales means more care is needed


On Friday 15 August, at least two whales were struck by a ferry crossing Moreton Bay.   One small animal – reportedly seven metres long and possibly born earlier this season - was later found dead with severe propeller cuts across its head. It is not known whether it died as a result of the impact or the propeller injuries or both. There were reports of another larger whale swimming in the area, also with propeller injuries.   What makes More...


16.08.2014

Swimming with whales - how much exploitation is enough?


The Queensland Government looks certain to allow commercial whale watching operators to conduct and promote swimming with whales activities for their passengers. Called “swim with the whales” by some and a “whale immersion experience” by others, the move is cause for apprehension for the AWCS and other NGOs and researchers.   Despite a number of letters highlighting concerns for the welfare of whales and the safety of the people in the water More...


20.04.2014

What next for Japan now the ICJ has shut down JARPA II?


Speculation still surrounds Japan’s longer-term intentions following the ruling in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the Japanese Government’s Antarctic whaling program, JARPA II, is illegal. Japan was ordered to revoke the Antarctic “scientific whaling” permits issued to its whaling feet and refrain from issuing further JARPA II permits. Japan has declared that it will abide by the decision but has not gone so far as to state More...


06.04.2014

International Court of Justice says JARPA II must cease


There was a sense of disbelief on the night of 31 March 2014 (Australian time) as International Court of Justice President Peter Tomka read the court’s decision on the case brought by Australia against Japan in relation to its whaling activities in the Antarctic, known as JARPA II. The decision, streamed live from the Hague on the ICJ website, was the culmination of legal action initiated by the Australian Government in May 2010 (see News More...


12.02.2014

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Dump


On 31 January, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) issued a permit to allow the dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge waste into the waters of the Marine Park. The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation’s dredging operations, approved by federal environment minister Greg Hunt on 10 December last year, will be part of the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point, north of Bowen. Under GBRMPA legislation, dredging More...


09.02.2014

No orcas for the Olympics, but bound for captivity elsewhere


The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are under way and Sochi’s Aquatoria dolphinarium has thankfully not seen the addition of orcas to their collection of captive performing belugas, dolphins, walruses, seals and sea lions. Concerns had grown when authorities declined to comment about whether or not one or two orcas would arrive at Aquatoria in time for the Olympics. It now appears that the orcas in question are probably being held in Moscow, More...


08.02.2014

Whale poachers and their pursuers back in the Southern Ocean


The waters of the Southern Ocean have once again become the location for two perennial battles. One, the relentless whale hunt by the Japanese, is a one-sided affair with the odds entirely in the hunters’ favour. The other is the engagement of the Japanese fleet by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in an effort to disrupt the hunt. Perhaps more important than restricting the whalers’ success is simply the presence on the killing grounds More...


01.02.2014

One spectacle too many at the 2014 Winter Olympics?


In less than one week, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will commence. The Russian city of Sochi, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, will host more than 2,500 athletes; 25,000 volunteers; 40,000 police and special services security officers; and an expected 213,000 spectators. Alarmingly, there are reports that two additional “guests” are being flown in for the spectacle. Sochi’s dolphinarium, “Aquatoria”, has for some years included More...


01.01.2014

Time may be running out for Maui's dolphins


The New Zealand Government is risking increased domestic and international criticism unless it takes prompt and decisive action to protect the nation’s dwindling population of Maui’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori ssp. maui). Only found in the waters of New Zealand’s North Island, the Maui’s dolphin is listed as “critically endangered” with “population trend decreasing” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). More...


17.11.2013

Australian citizens rally for National Day of Climate Action


Concerned Australians gathered in their tens of thousands on 17 November to express concern about their federal and state governments’ lack of commitment to immediate, credible and ongoing action on climate change. Brisbane’s Queens Park was filled to capacity as National Day of Climate Action speakers called on all politicians to acknowledge the dangers of climate change caused by human activity and to support long-term legislation and More...


28.07.2013

Whaling court case decision could take up to six months


Australia’s case against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) - Whaling in the Antarctic Australia v. Japan - wrapped up on 17 July with final submissions from both parties. Hearings had commenced on 26 June. It has been a little over three years since Australia commenced ICJ proceedings in an effort to bring an end to Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program (JARPA II). In summing up, Mr. Bill Campbell QC (Australian More...


28.07.2013

Funding for true scientific whale research in the Antarctic


One of the strongest arguments in support of Australia’s case against Japanese Antarctic whaling, currently being considered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, is the extent of high quality, non-lethal research conducted by Australia in the Southern Ocean. The International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee has noted on many occasions that the science published by Australia has been more robust and useful than More...


28.07.2013

Paddles raised in peaceful protest


Threatening skies on the cold morning of 13 July did not deter more than 700 paddlers from descending on the beach at Scarness, Hervey Bay to take part in the 2013 Paddle Out for Whales. Unseen, many kilometres to the east, humpbacks whale pods were travelling northwards on their annual migration, a 10,000 kilometre mile round trip that will bring many of them into the bay as they begin make their way back to the Antarctic in a few weeks More...


19.05.2013

Queensland's new marine mammal legislation a leap backwards for whales and industry


With the release on 9 May 2013 of its revised marine mammal legislation (Nature Conservation and Other Legislation Amendment and Repeal Regulation [No. 1] 2013), the Queensland Government has missed an opportunity to improve the standard of marine mammal protection in Queensland and has instead made changes that will have a negative impact on the management of human-whale interactions. The new laws are also likely to cause serious harm to More...


12.05.2013

Iceland poised to recommence taking fin whales


Disappointing news has emerged with reports that the Icelandic whaling company, Hvalur H/F, may be about to recommence taking fin whales in June this year. Fin whales, listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), are estimated to have declined by more than 70% globally over the last three generations. In 2009, Iceland permitted its whalers to kill 125 fin whales More...


21.04.2013

See you in court - Australia vs Japan case to be heard in June


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has scheduled the oral hearings for Australia’s whaling case against Japan to commence on 26 June this year. This will be the first time that the legality of Japan’s "scientific whaling" program has been challenged before the ICJ. It will have been just over three years since the Australian Government instituted these proceedings, Whaling in the Antarctic - Australia v. Japan. [See News Item More...


10.01.2013

South Korean decision - no scientific whaling


It's official. On 4 January the Republic of Korea (South Korea) Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) wrote to the IWC Executive Secretary to advise that his government has changed its position on plans to conduct scientific whaling and will now use only non-lethal research methods. Six months earlier, on 4 July 2012 at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), South Korea announced that More...


09.12.2012

South Korea now might not commence scientific whaling


There are at last positive signs that South Korea might officially announce that it will not proceed with scientific permit whaling. (See News article 7 July 2012.) The South Korean opposition has continually opposed the ruling party's plan to consider scientific whaling since it was announced at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama in the first week of July 2012. It now appears from media reports in Korea that More...


14.07.2012

South Korea's Whaling Plans still unclear


In his opening address to the 64th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama last week Dr. Joon-Suk Kang, head of the Republic of Korea’s delegation, announced that his country is “currently considering conducting whaling for scientific research”. South Korea has undertaken a minke whale sighting program off the Korean Peninsula for the past decade. Included in South Korea’s justification for escalating to lethal More...


09.06.2012

IWC64 kicks off in Panama


Preliminary sessions of the 64th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) commence today, June 10, in Panama City. Meetings of the various sub-committees and the Scientific Committee will continue until the end of the month. Among the matters under review by the Scientific Committee is JARPA II, the controversial “scientific permit” whaling conducted by Japan in the Antarctic. The main or plenary meetings will take More...


08.04.2012

What is killing Peru's dolphins?


An unprecedented cetacean stranding event is unfolding on the north-western coast of Peru. Hundreds of long-beaked common dolphins and dozens of Burmeister’s porpoises, most of them already dead, have been washing ashore for a number of weeks.  They range from new-born calves to fully mature adults, male and female. Necropsies and other investigations are under way and early suspects for cause of death are acoustic impact or a virus More...


01.04.2012

New threat to the dolphins of Taiji


The mayor of Taiji- the location of a seasonal Japanese “Oikomi” or drive fishery that kills hundreds of small cetaceans each year – recently announced a new plan to exploit the marine mammals unfortunate enough to swim through local waters. The proposal calls for closing of a large area at the southern end of Moriura Bay to create a permanent “whale ranch”. The annual Taiji hunt has been the focus of international concern and protest for More...


10.03.2012

Harpoon guns fall silent in the Antarctic, for now


The Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) has confirmed that its Antarctic whaling fleet terminated its 2012 hunt on 6 March. Japan’s “scientific” Antarctic whaling program calls for an annual take of 850 +/- 10% (or up to 935) minke whales and 50 fin whales. This season the whalers took only 266 minke whales and one fin whale, with the FAJ citing “weather conditions and sabotage acts by activists” as the reasons for the shortfall. In the More...


22.01.2012

Norway Government campaigns to Save the Whaling


Whereas Japan’s continues whaling activity is largely due to pressure brought to bear on the government by the powerful Japanese fishing industry, things seem to be the other way around in Norway. In both 2008 and 2009, the Norwegian Government issued a quota of 885 minke whales to its whaling fleet.  The actual catch fell far short in both years, with 536 killed in ’08 and 484 in ’09. Despite the declining catch, the Norwegian Government More...


14.01.2012

Changing views about whales in Iceland


The January 2012 edition of Iceland Review includes a special feature that reflects changing attitudes towards whales in that nation. While the title is somewhat misleading, the article Man vs Whale poses ten questions about whales, whaling and whale watching to two Icelanders who earn their livelihoods from whales; one a whaler from Ísafjördur, and the other a commercial whale watch operator based in Húsavík. Their answers highlight the More...


14.01.2012

Icelandic souvenir in bad taste


In November 2011 tourists departing Iceland’s Keflavik international airport found a new item among the souvenirs on offer; packaged whale meat. It is not known whether the idea was a means of boosting declining domestic sales, an effort to deplete Iceland’s growing stockpile of frozen whale meat or a ploy to lure unsuspecting foreigners into unknowingly contravening the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ban on More...


14.01.2012

More money and "security" for Japanese fleet


The Japanese whaling fleet is back in the Southern Ocean intent on continuing its scientific whaling program, JARPA II. As usual, the factory ship Nisshin Maru sailed from the Japanese port of Shimonoseki in early December, accompanied by its fleet of catcher vessels. This time however, it is understood that aboard the Shonan Maru II, an ex-catcher vessel that has been modified to provide “security”, is a contingent of Japanese Coast Guard More...


12.11.2011

Moves to protect Southern Ocean ecosystem


The 30th meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), held recently in Hobart, has paved the way for the declaration of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Building on an undertaking made in 2009, the Commission endorsed a conservation agreement that will form the basis for declaration of MPAs. The 26 nations represented on CCAMLR, including Australia, now have an agreed More...


12.11.2011

U.S. puts Iceland on notice


United States President Barack Obama has decided not to impose trade sanctions on Iceland – for now. In a measured response to a recommendation from US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke for tough economic action [see News Item 30.07.2011], President Obama has sent a communiqué to the Icelandic Government clearly stating the US Government’s strong opposition to the continued taking of endangered fin whales. The President said that he shared More...


06.08.2011

Is Japan having second thoughts?


News items in the Japanese press indicate that the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) have recently given some consideration to decreasing or even ending its lethal “scientific” whaling in the Antarctic. For the time being however, the whaling policy of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries remains unchanged. It is possible that the Japanese Government has been compelled to review its position on its Antarctic whaling program More...


30.07.2011

US poised to act on Iceland's whaling


United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has made a formal recommendation to President Barack Obama that the U.S. should use the provisions of the Pelly Amendment to take action against Iceland over its continued harvest of fin whales. Pelly legislation enables the President to authorise sanctions and other actions against any nation that conducts “fishing operations in a manner or under circumstances which diminish the effectiveness of an More...


11.07.2011

IWC 63 begins


The 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) got under way today in Jersey, United Kingdom, following meetings of the various Sub-committees and the Scientific Committee in June. The Australian delegation is being led by Environment Minister Tony Burke. As in previous years, the issue of scientific whaling will be high on the agenda. In a media statement on the first day of the 2011 meeting Mr Burke More...


31.05.2011

Jurisdictions unite to protect whales


Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has announced the establishment of a national program to monitor and enforce whale protection legislation in Australia. Operation CETUS is a partnership between Commonwealth, state and territory agencies designed ensure that boating activities, aircraft, swimmers and divers do not interfere with whale species that visit our waters each winter. Humpback and southern right whales, in particular, More...


15.05.2011

Iceland puts fin whale hunt on ice


The Icelandic whaling company Hvalur h/f has taken a decision to forestall its 2011 hunt for endangered fin whales. Unfortunately the move has been made for economic rather than environmental reasons and the reprieve might be short-lived. Under pressure from the powerful fisheries lobby, the Government of Iceland has increased the annual quota for fin whales dramatically in recent years. In 2003 Iceland announced to the International More...


30.04.2011

The news was too good to be true


In case there was any remaining doubt about the inaccuracy of last week’s news reports that Japan had announced an end to its whaling activities, it has been confirmed that three whaling vessels set sail from Kushiro this week in preparation for Japan’s annual "scientific" whale hunt in the north Pacific. The ships would normally operate out of Ishinomaki, on the north-east coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. However, Ishinomaki lay in More...


10.04.2011

A climate for change


The people turned out in good numbers at Brisbane's King George Square on Saturday 9 April in the Rally for Climate Action, despite a forecast of intermittent rain and competition from another public event in the Brisbane CBD. A crowd of all ages responded enthusiastically to calls for the introduction of a carbon price and for industry and business to support the development of new clean energy industries. Guest speakers included acting More...


13.03.2011

Watch what you eat Iceland style


Iceland has this year put unprecedented effort into promoting its growing whale watching industry, while at the same time escalating its commercial whaling activity. Icelandair’s ‘Whale Watching City Break’ promotion offers UK customers the opportunity to view humpback and minke whales in ‘crystal clear Icelandic waters’ – waters that in places will run red with the blood of those very same minke whales. The government of Iceland More...


20.02.2011

Antarctic whalers retreat good news - for now


On 16 February came news that the Japanese Fisheries Agency's Far Seas Fisheries Division had recalled its whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean only half way into its 2010/11 season of ‘scientific’ whaling program, known as JARPA II. On February 18 Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd released a joint media statement welcoming the retreat of Japan's whaling fleet, reiterating Australia’s call for More...


23.01.2011

International Whaling Commission to meet in July


In preparation for the 63rd Annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC 63), the Sub-committees and Scientific Committee will meet during late May and early June 2011 in Tromsø, Norway.   IWC 63 will take place a month later at St Helier, on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, from July 11 to 14, following a private meeting of IWC Commissioners on the 10th.   The detailed meeting agenda is yet to be More...


22.01.2011

Western gray whale tracked far to the east


A team of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute has been tracking the movements of a rare and endangered western gray whale, tagged with a satellite transmitter in the north Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of Russia. There are two genetically separate sub-populations of gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), one on either side of the north Pacific, and it is believed that their More...


19.01.2011

Queensland floods also a crisis for marine environment


In addition to the devastating effects on human lives and livelihoods, the recent flood events in Queensland, Australia are expected to impact heavily on coastal marine ecosystems as flood water continues to flow from the Brisbane River and other river systems to the north, including the Tully and beyond. Bays and inshore waters are still receiving massive quantities of fresh water, silt, pesticides, nutrients and other pollution swept More...


12.01.2011

Australia to present court case against Japanese whaling this year


On 31 June 2010 the Australian Government instituted proceedings against the Government of Japan before the International Court of Justice: Whaling in the Antarctic - Australia v. Japan. The basis of the Court action is that Japan continues to breach both its IWC obligations and its other international obligations for 'the preservation of marine mammals and marine environment'. Australia draws attention to Japan's failure to observe More...


06.01.2011

Japanese whalers back in the Antarctic


The Japanese whaling fleet entered the Southern Ocean in December intent on continuing its Antarctic whaling activities. Japan's counterfeit 'scientific' whaling program, JARPA II, calls for up to 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales this season. It is not yet known whether they will also take the 50 humpback whales specified in the 'research program' or whether international pressure will once more see this species, at least, More...


17.10.2010

Humpback migration revelation


The record of a humpback whale's remarkable movement between non-adjacent breeding areas has been published online in the Royal Society's peer-reviewed independent journal, Biology Letters. First photographed on the Abrolhos Bank, off the coast of Brazil in August 1999 and identified as a female from a skin sample collected by scientists, the whale's underside-fluke image was entered into the College of the Atlantic's Antarctic Humpback More...


22.08.2010

Maquieira Proposal fails at IWC 62


On 25 June, after 5 days of plenary meetings, the 2010 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission ended without adopting the Consensus Proposal, also referred to as the Maquieira Proposal. [See News Items 02.05.10 and 25.04.10.] Had it been endorsed in anything like its original form, the proposal would have essentially sanctioned a return to commercial whaling for the next decade. There were grave concerns amongst More...


04.05.2010

Recently discovered but already in trouble


A meeting of Commonwealth and State Government representatives, scientists and key stakeholders will take place in Townsville this week to discuss how best to protect and conserve the Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni). Closely related to the Irrawaddy dolphin (O. brevirostris) the snubfin dolphin is relatively new to science, having been first described only five years ago. The protection and management of any species More...


02.05.2010

Australia finds IWC Consensus Proposal unacceptable


In a recent letter to the AWCS, the Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett has given his assurance that the Australian Government intends to maintain its opposition to commercial whaling and 'scientific' whaling at the 2010 meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) scheduled for June. In recent weeks the IWC Small Working Group for the Future of the IWC (SWG) released a Consensus Proposal that alarmed us all. The More...


25.04.2010

IWC Proposed Consensus - back to commercial whaling quotas?


On 1 March we reported that one of the proposals arising from the Small Working Group (SWG) on the Future of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) included a deal in which Japan would cease its 'scientific whaling' program in the Southern Ocean, JARPA II, in exchange for legitimate whaling quotas, despite the ongoing global moratorium on commercial whaling. The Society's concern about such a whale-trading arrangement appears to have More...


01.03.2010

Australia's Answer to the Maquieira Proposal


The Australian Government has been quick to respond to the so-called "Maquieira Proposal", released by International Whaling Commission (IWC) chair Cristian Maquieira last week. [See News Item 28.02.10] The proposal, if adopted, would essentially legitimise the whaling activities of Japan, Norway and Iceland in return for a few minor compromises. The Maquieira Proposal is one of a number of options to have emerged from the IWC's Small More...


28.02.2010

Australia finally sets deadline for legal action


In a long overdue ultimatum, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stated publically that unless there is agreement from the Japanese Government to reduce its Antarctic take of whales to zero, then the Australian Government will commence action in the International Court of Justice before Japan embarks on its next Antarctic whaling voyage in November this year. This follows more than two years of endeavours on the diplomatic front and the More...


28.02.2010

"Future" proposal looks more like the past


As we feared [see News Item 03.05.09] a proposal has emerged from an intersessional meeting of the Small Working Group (SWG) on the Future of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that would allow Japan and its whaling accomplices to trade-in its self-issued scientific whaling quotas for 'legitimate' IWC quotas. The deal would likely extend to nations such as Norway that lodged objections to the commercial whaling moratorium under More...


18.10.2009

Queensland marine mammal protection laws under review


The Queensland Government has released a discussion paper seeking public comment on the review of its marine mammal protection legislation. The discussion paper addresses the three marine mammal groups that are most abundant in Queensland waters; whales, dolphins and dugong. More than 30 marine mammal species are to be found in the state's waters, from widely distributed bottlenose dolphins to the recently discovered snubfin dolphin More...


18.10.2009

More whales in our waters, more whales in shark nets


In only six weeks, five humpback whales have been caught by shark nets set in the inshore waters of the Gold Coast. The most recent, a seven metre juvenile, became entangled in the Burleigh Beach net on 13 October. Fortunately, the whale was freed, but only after an hour of dangerous work in rough sea conditions by trained personnel from the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Sea World rescue teams. There are 22 shark nets More...


04.10.2009

Shark nets do not discriminate


So far this year, three humpback whales have been freed from entanglement in shark nets in the inshore waters along Queensland's Gold Coast. And the annual whale migration is still far from over. The first for the season was on 1 September, followed by another, badly entangled adult less than four weeks later. The latest was a young six metre humpback, caught in a net off Kirra on 3 October. A specially trained and equipped More...


04.10.2009

Norway might be losing its taste for whale meat - and whaling


October should be the month when the annual Norwegian minke whale hunt concludes.Not so this year. The 2009 hunt ended in June, with 350 minkes killed. That is only 40% of the 885 minkes allocated by the Norwegian Government. The whaling industry itself called the early closure to the season because of reducing local demand for the meat. It is further understood that much of the previous season's catch remains in cold storage. More...


14.06.2009

IWC prepares to consider 'The Future'


The 2009 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is set to begin on Monday 22 June in Madeira, Portugal. Meetings of the IWC Scientific Committee are held in the leadup period and have already concluded. This coming week will be taken up by sub-committees that have been established to deal with specific issues such as Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling and Whaling Infractions. It is also during this time that More...


03.05.2009

Will the IWC's future repeat the mistakes of the past?


As reported previously, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has convened a series of meetings to discuss the Commission's future. The future of the IWC is of course inextricably linked to the futures of many thousands of whales. Two years ago, at the 2007 Annual Meeting, IWC members agreed that an intercessional meeting should be held in the leadup to the 2008 Annual Meeting in an effort to move beyond the stalemate between More...


19.04.2009

Antarctic Treaty More Relevant Than Ever


In December 1959 twelve nations including Australia signed a remarkable document known as the Antarctic Treaty. The Treaty declared that "Antarctica should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes", promoting scientific research and international cooperation. Rather remarkably, even though it was drawn up and signed at the height of the cold war, the Treaty specifically prohibits "military activities, such as the establishment of More...


19.04.2009

The Warming of the Coldest Continent


A little over 12 months ago, scientists examining satellite images of the Antarctic Peninsula observed the disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Shelf (around 71 degrees S; 73 degrees W). Covering around 13,000 square kilometres Wilkins effectively broke up into innumerable pieces between February and March 2008. With the onset of colder temperatures, sea ice formed between the fragments, securing them through the remainder of the year, More...


15.03.2009

Volunteers needed for Queensland oil spill cleanup


With more than 200,000 litres of spilled oil washing up on the southeast Queensland coast, volunteers are needed to assist with cleaning up the shoreline and rescuing wildlife. In many locations it is preferable to collect the washed up oil by hand rather than using earthmoving equipment. Preliminary checks have found that inshore dolphin populations might not have been severely affected at this stage.  However the situation will More...


21.02.2009

Grants for Priority Marine Mammal Research


In a move that will help to promote responsible, non-lethal whale research in the Southern Ocean and elsewhere, Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett has announced grant funding of $1.5 million for "priority marine mammal research". The program dovetails neatly into the research and conservation initiative funding announced late last year. The Minister is careful to point out that applications are invited for research involving More...


21.02.2009

The Australian Government Promises No Whale Trading Deals


Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has provided some clarification of Australia's position on the "whale trading" options currently under consideration by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). A 28 nation Small Working Group (SWG) was established by the IWC in June 2008 to try to negotiate a resolution to the prolonged stalemate over whaling. Australia is a member of the SWG. Since the global moratorium on commercial More...


01.02.2009

Need to be wary of whale-trading proposal


Concerns have been raised about a possible compromise in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) whereby Japan might scale back or even discontinue its Antarctic whaling program (JARPA II) in return for taking more whales in the North Pacific. Details of the proposal tabled, and the discussion that followed, are unclear because they took place at a closed-door meeting of the Small Working Group on the Future of the IWC. The formation More...


11.01.2009

Australia will not ban Sea Shepherd


The Australian Government clarified on 8 January that it has no intention of banning the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society from using Australian ports.  Japan officials have suggested that permission to dock and refuel should be denied because of the anti-whaling activists' tactics of intervention in Antarctic waters. While calling on both parties to refrain from activities that endanger lives or vessels, Deputy Prime Minister Julia More...


04.01.2009

More illegal whale meat trafficking revealed in Japan


Environmental organization Greenpeace has pushed the Japanese Government and Japanese whaling interests reluctantly into the local media spotlight with new revelations about corruption in the whaling industry. Acting on a tip-off from a former whaling ship employee, members of Greenpeace Japan convened a media conference in May 2008 to reveal a large package of whale meat that had been illegally shipped from the whaling factory ship, More...


04.01.2009

Japanese 2009 Antarctic whale hunt is under way


The beginning of the new year finds the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, intent on killing 850 (± 10%) Antarctic minke whales and 50 fin whales. The scientific whaling permit issued to the fleet by the Japanese Government does not include humpback whales.  Under the Japanese Antarctic whaling program, JARPA II, 50 humpbacks were intended to be harpooned annually, commencing last season.  Following strong international More...


04.01.2009

Australian Government to fund whale conservation initiatives


In November 2008 Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced funding of $6.15 million to 'kick-start' a range of whale research and conservation initiatives.  The largest portion, some $4 million, would be spent on research programs and scientific partnerships with other countries. In December, Garrett increased the funding package by $26 million over the next five years. A major focus of the research funding is the More...


04.01.2009

Vets release report on humpback calf


Veterinary pathologists from Sydney's Taronga Zoo have released the necropsy report for the orphaned humpback whale calf that swam into Pittwater in August. Daily media reports drew national attention to the debate about what should be done about the whale, named Colin, after attempts to lure it out of the bay and to locate its mother failed. Following days of consultation with experts in Australia and overseas the New South Wales More...


24.11.2008

Japanese Whaling Fleet Heading South


Japan's whaling fleet factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, sailed from the island port of Innoshima in southern Japan on 17 November on its way to the Antarctic. On board is this season's "scientific whaling permit" issued by the Government of Japan.  It is understood that the intention is to take 850 minke and 50 fin whales. For the second consecutive year Japan has announced that it will postpone the commencement of its humpback "research", More...


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