Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. X No. 1 - January 2001

Annual Report: CSI In 2000

By William Rossiter, CSI President

CSI has entered the new millennium with a growing membership, stable support, and increasing influence, bolstered by a proud and productive twenty-five year history. Sounds good, but then why do we feel as if we're on a windy, cold beach, watching the Vikings land on our shores? Because of the new Administration, 107th Congress, renewed efforts to start commercial whaling, overwhelming evidence of environmental debacles, and a public that may be distracted with economic concerns. The basic battle of economics versus the environment is really about abusing credit and time. Profit now, someone else will pay later. Yes, our grandchildren.

Unlike the hapless rabble that could do little as the Vikings plundered, CSI is organized and prepared to fight. We may concede the initial wave of losses as we size up the plunderers, but the public should begin to grasp the destruction in time to support us, and all the organizations like us. If you feel that the Viking metaphor is a little stretched, just watch carefully for a few months. I'd prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt, and there is a possibility that they won't be that bad, but... The reality is that CSI will need public support more than ever in 2001, or we will all lose hard-gained momentum. This is a watershed year.

Why support CSI? Because we accomplish more with less than any other organization you can find. But it's your money. It buys less today than yesterday, and everyone wants it. Whether your contribution to CSI is only the yearly membership fee or a substantial donation you have a right to know where your money goes. You want your support to work directly for whales and dolphins. Pound for pound we do that better than any other organization.

CSI is all volunteer, with many donated services, no real assets, and absolutely minimal overhead. The just-finished 2000 balance sheet shows that we spent $1,415.08 on miscellaneous things like insurance, state filing fees, and a CPA at tax time. Membership costs were $97.33. Our non-grant educational expenses, including this newsletter, cost $2,571.42. Here's the point: Every additional penny that came to CSI made a significant difference for cetaceans. Our extremely productive representation at major venues like CITES and the IWC cost only $2,586.33, an unbelievable bargain. Everything else went to our grant program, now in its 20th year. Our grant goal is to identify entry-level, local educators and scientists with outstanding personal potentials and critical projects, most often in developing nations. We don't do the projects; we support them in every sense of the word. The investment has been incredibly successful! The results have benefitted cetaceans and their environment, enabled young scientists and educators to demonstrate their potential, and even changed national policies and laws. One of these days we'll find time to list all the recipients, most of whom have now become established and respected professionals. They are all friends of CSI and, as their careers grow, they often join us to support far-reaching initiatives.

In 2000 CSI supported over 30 projects with contacts, information, advocacy, moral support, and direct grants. A sample includes: A legal effort to fight the U.S. Navy's LFA tests in Hawaii; two documentaries on the threatened orcas of Puget Sound; an ongoing Caribbean educational program directed at children; a sampling station for human effluents near the essential right whale feeding grounds in Cape Cod Bay, USA; the first-ever worldwide taxonomic study of dwarf and pygmy sperm whales; a population study of threatened New Zealand's Hector's dolphin; a population study of the Chilean dolphin; two different Brazilian cetacean surveys; a study of human interactions influencing the orcas and their prey in Argentina; a study of the "tucuxi" dolphin at Paraty Bay, Brazil; coalition projects to conserve and study the Arctic and Antarctic; and travel by specialists in Argentina to research in Australia and Mexico. Because of the extraordinary value of professional conferences to science and young scientists, CSI also helped support: A workshop in Brazil on the status of the franciscana dolphin; travel by two humpback whale experts from Brazil to a workshop in Australia; and the ninth annual Latin American marine mammal scientific conference. CSI also continues to provide the only subscriptions to the scientific journals Marine Mammal Science in Uruguay, and Aquatic Mammals in Brazil, each available from a central location to every professional.

Of special note was CSI's core support of the first-ever report of the terrible Mexican captive cetacean industry (reported elsewhere). This last project took two difficult years, just the beginning of a major campaign by Mexican organizations. CSI took a leadership role to assist in several ways, including the current posting of the report in English (with photos) and Spanish, at our website, http://csiwhalesalive.org/csimexico.html.

CSI's Whales Alive! newsletter is our most obvious membership benefit, also read by a very large "complimentary" list that purposely includes our adversaries. It is so well respected that it's often copied into other newsletters. Brent Hall edits the newsletter, and has archived each issue since July 1995 on our website.

Also thanks to Brent Hall, CSI has a well-respected World Wide Web site at http://csiwhalesalive.org, with a continually updated source of pertinent information. Dr. Robbins Barstow's seminal statement "Why Whales" leads the way, refreshing our decades-long effort. CSI's unique Photo Gallery, currently with 95 images of 23 cetacean species, provides free pictures and educational text for noncommercial use. Kids love it. CSI asks only that users join CSI. A virtual educational pamphlet on cetaceans in captivity is also provided. CSI's web site has matured as a very valuable resource. Our careful evaluation of other web sites guarantees reliable cetacean resource links. Directing inquiries to our web site has become our primary response, freeing much time. We are very grateful to Francis Jeffrey, President of the Great Whale Foundation, for having provided CSI with the free Internet address that allows us to reach so many people.

Heather Rockwell represented CSI at the IWC, while Board Members Kate O'Connell and Nancy Azzam represented other NGOs. At such events CSI is part of a team effort. Kate O'Connell represented CSI at CITES. Kate is an extremely proficient expert on many issues such as CITES, Makah whaling, tuna/dolphin, and the IWC, working on behalf of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. It's impossible to explain how much CSI's advocates accomplish at such important venues. One measure is the reaction of the opposition. After some particularly contentious moments the Japanese whaling commissioner approached Kate, and startled everyone as he gave her a respectful bow. The Norwegians mumbled something about keeping an eye on her. And she has friends in all the right places.

Other related Board Member's activities included Past President Don Sineti who again provided his rousing and historical sea shanties at Sitka's Whale Festival, many performances at Mystic Seaport, and other professional venues. Tom Callinan, Connecticut's first State Troubadour, was a headliner at many environmental events, including a December rally at the White House in support of sanctioning the Japanese for their fallacious whaling. Tom and Don are part of the famous singing group, the Morgans. Fred Wenzel continued his scientific research and local educational effort on the humpbacks of the Cape Verde Islands. Jean Rioux continued her summer Nantucket Speakers Program and last emailed us at Christmas from the Amazon, where she was helping an Amazon dolphin conservation program. Paul Knapp is again operating voluntarily the world's only whale listening tour, in Tortola during the winter months. Several specialists study his superb and unique recordings. Now with improved digital techniques and a just-released CD, Paul has sampled more than a decade of regional songs. Prior to retirement from United Airlines in December, Bill Rossiter met and worked with a wide variety of specialists in many countries. After some respite from all-nighters he will start again soon. And the artistic panels prepared by local children under the guidance of Sue Wachtelhausen and Pamela Finkle, in the well traveled, kilometer long "Free Corky" banner, continued their worldwide tour.

CSI's 1988 Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) enables us to nominate other candidates. We were most pleased when our nominee, Ásbjörn "Abbi" Björgvinsson, Manager of Iceland's Húsavík Whale Centre, became one of only 11 people worldwide to be elected to UNEP's Global 500 for 2000.

CSI starts 2001 with about the same bank balance with which we had started 2000. What came in went out, nothing stayed idle. We may do a lot with your money, but we would do so much more if we had a little more. We rejected several projects because our balance got a little low, we couldn't support some developing nations' NGOs with their issues, and we couldn't be at every venue where we could have made a difference.

Please help CSI make more of a difference in 2001.

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© Copyright 2001, Cetacean Society International, Inc.

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