Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. XVI No. 1 - January 2007


CSI Preliminary Annual Report

By William Rossiter, CSI President


CSI's 2006 can be summed up as a productive and successful year. Everyone knows the world's issues and problems are enormous and growing, but CSI did make a difference in 2006. By another measure, our bank balance is about what we started the year with, which means we spent all of our increased income to do more to help cetaceans. A growing income and stable membership is reassuring but we measure CSI by what we have achieved. So do the foundations that provide the majority of CSI's income; they have chosen to help us because they know what we do, and that we make every dollar work hard. To be plain and a little proud about it, we do not know of any other organization that does more per dollar or member. How? By accomplishing everything with voluntary labor, with many expenses being absorbed as donations. By maintaining our priceless reputation built over three decades. By working in trusting, cooperative and occasionally confidential relationships with organizations, advocates, scientists, and officials. And overall by helping people help whales. After over thirty years at this we are fortunate to have many influential and expert friends, and often attack issues and support projects with their willing help.

CSI's eclectic Board of Directors is our "staff", volunteering their time and expertise as superb examples of one of our basic purposes: CSI empowers people to make a difference. Elsewhere in this newsletter Patty Sullivan writes of her collaboration with Paul Knapp and Dan Knaub to produce a program proven to improve writing skills of middle school children. Professional musicians Don Sineti and Tom Callinan are in constant demand for their whale and sea-focused presentations. Kate O'Connell's astonishing language and Internet skills ferret out the truth about whaling, enabling many organizations to fight the whaling travesty more effectively. Heather Rockwell, CSI's IWC Representative, is another professional-caliber volunteer. She takes time off her paying job to attend the many meetings; all CSI covers are her basic expenses. Heather's so good she was appointed to the US Delegation to represent all NGOs at the 2006 meeting, and was a master at the task. In fact, CSI had three board members at that IWC meeting, with Deb Adams and Nancy Azzam representing other NGOs. Nancy and Dr. Robbins Barstow, CSI's Director Emeritus, have also been appointed in the past to the US IWC Delegation as NGO representatives. That's a unique history for any organization, and it helps to define our reputation. Deb Adams applied her professional marketing skills to designing several brochures for CSI, and is central to a multi-group effort on the contaminated whale meat issue. There are so many others who deserve mention, but we do not have space.

Some of CSI's officers and Board members

Some of CSI's officers and Board members.
Back row: Brent Hall, Paul Digangi, Patty Sullivan,
Robbins Barstow, Meg Barstow, Bill Rossiter.
Front row: Brian Chmielecki, Jean Rioux, Barbara Kilpatrick,
Jessica Dickens, Martha Fitzgerald.

And then there's our Whales Alive! newsletter. Have you wondered why it is so different, with articles that are too detailed and dry for some people? Our newsletter is not about glossy, cute photos or touting CSI's work (except here!). Instead we build on the current issues we are involved with to provide professionals with some of the facts they need to know about. We send Whales Alive! gratis to an extraordinary range of influential, decision-making people, frankly to influence their attention, action, and help. We take it as a compliment that many we fight against also want to read our newsletter.

But what has CSI done in 2006? We fought commercial and "scientific" whaling, dolphin and whale slaughters, exploitive captive displays and harassing ecotours, wild captures, illegal transports, dolphin-assisted therapy, entanglements, and shipstrikes. We are involved in a case now before the US Supreme Court concerning the EPA's lack of action. We are plaintiffs in several suits against US Navy sonars, and working very hard to understand and constrain human noise impacts in the oceans. We fought to stop the threats of global warming, pollution, heavy metal contamination, and growing pressures from humans that threaten animals, habitats, and us. We spent considerable time learning about and commenting on government plans and proposals, and worked for laws, policies, and practices that support our goals.

OK, but what did we do to help? We answered many questions, helped people get accurate information, and attracted media attention to significant issues. Because of our extremely low overhead, almost all the money we spent in 2006 went to people and projects outside of CSI, about 79 grants in direct support of science, education and conservation that would help cetaceans. A few funds were used for educational exhibits and special public events more local to our Connecticut core, and we assisted the Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown, the best whale watch operation we know of, with their on-board educational experience. But our work has no geographical limits, so we also helped start-up whale and dolphin watches in some far away places, supplied a start up cetacean library to a national park in Mauritania, and are now sending out donated books and CDs of the very best technical guide for responding to stranded marine mammals. We are helping people, who cannot afford the resources, to reduce the suffering of stranded animals and increase what can be learned from them.

Why does CSI give so much attention to international issues? Because it's a small world after all, there really are no "local" issues anymore, and some examples from afar may help the polarized US regain some momentum. We interpret the famous "Think Globally, Act Locally" to mean supporting qualified people who are local to issues and problems. It's all about helping good people, anywhere.

People CSI has helped with grants, etc.

For example, in this photo are a few of the hundreds of people we have helped, with small grants, resources, contacts and lots of moral support. They wanted to come together for this picture during November's Latin America's biennial scientific marine mammal conference, specifically to thank CSI for our support and our faith in their future. We are grateful to grantee Verónica Iriarte Denis for taking the picture. Some are new faces, just starting their careers. Others have achieved considerable influence since we first helped them perhaps decades ago. Our grant program is an investment in people. It has paid off in terms of increased conservation, science based management, and a new generation of scientist-advocate who study, define, communicate and solve environmental problems within their countries, usually with a global perspective. Now we're learning from them.

Here's CSI's twist on the traditional whale adoption programs: why not adopt a cetacean scientist! We are in touch with young, talented people beginning their careers with field studies of, to us, some very exotic species, like the boto, tucuxi, or franciscana. These people have little support to complete their projects, and a little help goes a very long way ... perhaps the start of a distinguished lifetime career. Think about it; it works!

What does CSI need? Of course we could use more members, resources, and the time and energy to produce more public events, especially in our core area of Connecticut, USA. We can always use factual information and alerts to problems, as we are remarkably good facilitators, connecting experts and advocates with the facts and support to make a timely difference. But perhaps most of all we need people who want to take advantage of CSI's empowerment to help cetaceans. If you are part of the growing population of retired people seeking something productive to apply yourself to, CSI may be what you need, and we need you. If you have the energy, expertise and will, or a great idea or need, perhaps we can empower you to make a difference.

What's forecast for 2007? More of the same, obviously, but a fresh perspective in Congress gives us hope that reason will prevail. None of the major issues will fade away or succumb to quick fixes, so one of CSI's goals will be to engage more people to help make positive changes. Want to make a difference?


Go to next article: In Memoriam: Gerry Eastman Studds or: Table of Contents.

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