Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VII No. 1 January 1998

News Notes

by William Rossiter, CSI President

If any Whales Alive! readers have personal experience with dolphin "swim-with" tours or operations please consider sharing them with CSI. Photographs are especially welcome. As you might expect, CSI has strong opinions about the dark side of this growth industry, but we want to be convinced otherwise.

What is whaling worth? Some statistics from Japan's 96/97 Antarctic season included a catch of 1,995 tons of minke meat from a quota of 440 minke whales, valued at 3.5 billion yen (~US$35 million). Value after marketing more than tripled to about US$100 million. Japan is actively promoting the use of whale meat in schools, obviously to foster a future consumer market.

What is the American Opinion on Whaling? A May, 1997 Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates poll of Americans on whaling issues found 81% oppose killing of whales for meat, blubber, or other purposes. Only 14% supported whaling. The International Fund for Animal Welfare commissioned the same polling firm used by the Clinton Administration, which also found that 73% of the people identifying themselves as hunters opposed whaling while 23% supported it. Nearly 65% of Americans voiced support of U.S. trade sanctions against Norway and Japan for their flagrant violations of the IWC whaling ban.

Rumors of illicit commercial whaling near Barbuda and reports that dolphins are frequently processed along with fish in some Japanese funded plants in the Caribbean may become fact just in time for the intersessional meeting of IWC Commissioners hosted by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, 3-5 February. Japan has poured money into the Caribbean and elsewhere, developing fishing facilities and ports in many nations that, in turn, vote according to Japan's wishes at the IWC. These include Antigua, St. Vincent, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia and the Solomon Islands.

Danish fishermen raised a Parliamentary question this past summer over large amounts of rotting whale tissue found in their nets, supporting stories of Norwegian whalers dumping blubber over the sides of their boats as there was no market for it.

The U.S. Navy has resurrected its trained dolphin program, reversing a two year old policy designed to reduce costs. More than a few controversies followed Navy releases of dolphins to a variety of questionable display facilities. Having worked with dolphins and other marine mammals for more than three decades, the Navy says it needs trained dolphins to find and mark sea mines, to help recover practice bombs and instrument packages jettisoned from test missiles, and to patrol and secure areas vulnerable to terrorist or military action. They do not place or detonate mines, operate weapons or kill anyone. New found funding to maintain the Navy's 75 dolphins and 19 other marine mammals includes basic scientific research.

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