The Press on whaling

January 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

editorial:

The annual antics of the anti- activists in the Southern Ocean are under way again.

The routine seems the same every year and is familiar. Japanese whaling ships arrive in the Southern Ocean to begin hunting whales. The pretext for the hunting is that it is for “scientific research” although that is almost universally disputed.

Most impartial observers believe the real reason for the hunting is to keep what remains of the Japanese whaling industry going.

Each year Sea Shepherd vessels track the whalers and aggressively attempt to disrupt the hunting.

Sea Shepherd and the whalers feed off each other. There is almost no commercial market for the whales anymore in Japan. The whalers carry on, because they don’t want to be seen to be buckling to pressure. I suspect if one ignored them, they’d stop within a decade.

This year the Green Party has taken up Sea Shepherd’s cry and called on the Government to send a naval vessel to the area to demonstrate New Zealand’s disapproval of the Japanese behaviour.

It may strike some as strange to hear the Greens promoting a show of military force but in any case the idea is foolish.

Even if the Japanese were breaching some law, New Zealand has no jurisdiction in the area and could do nothing about it.

Normally the Greens insist that military have no role in international disputes, but when it comes to whaling they want to send in a frigate!

Governments, both Labour and National, have said repeatedly that they do not accept Japan’s cover story used to justify its whaling and have called for the Japanese to end the practice.

That is the line taken consistently in international forums such as the International Whaling Commission for many years.

Last year, the present National Government went further and joined an action brought by the Australian Government in the International Court of Justice to have Japan’s whaling declared illegal. New Zealand’s case was strongly argued by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

The court’s decision is expected about within two or three months.

That will be eagerly awaited. Hopefully NZ and Australia win.

As Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said yesterday the whaling is being carried out “substantially for the purposes of pride and we’ve got to try and negotiate a way to get past what is a pointless activity . . .”

New Zealand is fully involved in that diplomatic activity.

Sea Shepherd’s Southern Ocean publicity stunt does nothing useful to advance it.

I think Sea Shepherd know that the practice would probably stop, if they were not there highlighting it. But then they would have no reason to exist. They and the whalers have a symbiotic relationship with each other – both needs the other to stay relevant.

Tags: , , ,

40 Responses to “The Press on whaling”

  1. Peter (1,712 comments) says:

    And what would the frigate do, exactly? Open fire? Look mean? Sail around in circles looking stupid?

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Jaffa (94 comments) says:

    What are the Greens going to do about the 39 dead whales on Farewell Spit???

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. hj (7,015 comments) says:

    Anyone who has anything to do with japan can see both sides. My wife saw some stranded whales and said “I’d like to eat them” “we used to eat them when I was a kid” (in school lunch box). They have eaten them for centuries. I see both sides ;we eat a nice cow with big eyelashes?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. hj (7,015 comments) says:

    Greenpeace/Greens do anything but demonstrate how to live sustainably at home. In Canada (for instance) the Green Party is in favour of increasing outside immigration the there can be no ecological wisdom without social justice rule means they can say “we aren’t increasing population overall” (just spreading it about); when will we see them do their large population and no fossil fuels thing?

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Urban_Redneck (86 comments) says:

    My mrs recalls eating whale meat when she was a child, she reckons it wasn’t a delicacy or anything but it was mostly eaten in past times in Japan because it had been cheap.

    It’s as tough as eating a jandal apparently.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Longknives (4,744 comments) says:

    But I thought the Greens wanted to get rid of our Armed Services?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. J Bloggs (241 comments) says:

    The Japanese government would probably love to stop whaling. The industry requires $12M US dollars a year in subsidies to keep going, and most of the whale meat is never sold. However, they do not want to be seen to be buckling to outside pressure to stop whaling (the whole “loss of face” thing), plus the Institute for Cetacean Research is a sinecure for old boys in thier political system.
    The most likely prospect for the future of Japanese whaling is that when thier sole working factory ship finally reaches the end of its life, they’ll say the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t justify replacing it, and cite that as the reason for Japan discontinuing whaling.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. kowtow (8,471 comments) says:

    What would the frigate do,exactly?

    Put a few shells through the Sea Shepherd ,that’s how piracy was dealt with in the pre “human rights” era.

    On a much more serious note though……the Greens really are wolves in sheep clothing……they have a very carefully cultivated image of being carers ,peace activist,tree hugging ,kumbaya types and yet when it comes to a pet suject they seem to be the first to be prepared to use the ultimate force in the land ,the military.

    They are dangerous and would abuse the constitution to their own extremist ends.

    Vote: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    Once again the Green Taliban and Sea Pirates completely ignore all the facts and play on emotions.

    There is over 1 million Minkie whales in the grounds where the Japanese whalers are hunting, and up to 3 million world wide. This is a considerable number and is recognised as a sustainable population to farm. Infact the minkie whales population is growing.
    Up to 1 million cetacea (the family whales are from) die every year from ship strikes, beachings, bycatch etc, a large portion of these being whales themselves. Infact research has indicated catching minkie whales would be beneficial to other endagered whale populations by reducing competition for food.
    Japan hunting 10k minkies a year is no problem at all.

    New Zealand was partly founded on the whaling industry

    FYI DPF whale meat is still extremely popular in Japan but due to limited supply and cost is not as widely consumed.

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. thePeoplesFlag (245 comments) says:

    We sent a frigate to Mururoa Atoll to make a point back in the early 1970s, and that eventually forced the French to give up their nuclear testing. Sending a naval OPV complete with a senior cabinet minister to observe the Japanese whaling fleet and to tell the Japanese captain we may use our naval vessel to actively protect certain whale species within the Southern Whale sanctuary would also send a very useful and pointed message to Tokyo.

    Japan needs friends right now. Her current dispute with China could very easily escalate to hot skirmish stage. Sending a warship to express our displeasure at the actions of an ally whilst using diplomatic channels to point out their whaling fleets behaviour is making supporting Japan against China a really, really hard sell would be a most useful bit of diplomatic theatre.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 23 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. J Bloggs (241 comments) says:

    FYI DPF whale meat is still extremely popular in Japan but due to limited supply and cost is not as widely consumed.

    Where do you get that idea from?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9330828/Seventy-five-per-cent-of-Japanese-whale-meat-unsold.html

    The Institute of Cetacean Research, a quasi-public body that organises the country’s whaling, said around 75 per cent of roughly 1,200 tons of minke, Bryde’s and sei meat from the deep-sea mission did not find buyers.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. kowtow (8,471 comments) says:

    Another futile gesture by a Labour govt,hyped into a victory on the world stage.

    The anti nuclear stance is a great example of cowardly leftist grandstanding.

    Time to consign it to the dustbin ohf history where it belongs.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Odakyu-sen (653 comments) says:

    My wife remembers whale meat in her kindergarten lunch back in the 1960s. It wasn’t very appealing, and became a symbol of the poor old days in post-war Japan (much like canned Soviet saury fish in NZ a decade later). I don’t think many young Japanese are into whale that much. They do, however, very much resent the arrogance of “cow-eating Westerners” telling them what to do.

    Leave it alone and whale hunting will die out in Japan in a decade or so.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    Hmm, we send a frigate into international waters where it encounters two civilian vessels: one going about its legal business and the other engaging in piracy. What do they think our frigate should do in that situation?

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. kowtow (8,471 comments) says:

    Odyaku sen

    The arrogance of the cow eating westerners……quite!

    There’s a massive arms race going on in Asia .India has a huge blue water navy.

    We better be very careful about our holier than thou attitude over a few whales cos if Hindu extremists get into power there we could see Indian battleships off the coast threatening us till we agree to stop killing cows ,which they consider to be sacred.

    ps How irritating is the RNZ TVNZ insistence on putting a maori “wh” into pronouncing fwhale?Noelle MacPlagiary was doing it this am and Pete Williams does it too.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. MH (754 comments) says:

    I still enjoy niggling the Nips,their arrogance and hypocrisy comes to the fore and exposes their national traits,simmering away,still in denial over WWII, the fact that their own history books gloss over that period speaks volumes about them and their scientific facade. The emperor should have been shot after the war for his actions in overseeing mass murder. Was there not some reports that demonstrated that whale meat eating was done historically by only a small minority of coastal mainland Japs,and deep sea harvesting of whales is only a myth perpetrated over the last 40yrs ? Also remember what they are doing to sharks,cutting off fins and chucking the animal back into the sea,who’d want to support that sort of carrying on ? Waste of good fish and chip material. At least cows are utilised down to their hooves.
    Sea Shepherd’s presence would’t be necessary if the Japs honoured the Treaty they signed. Who’s job is it to enforce that? The UN?
    But good point kowtow, hide that plastic bottle of milk to the back of the fridge.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    How amusing that the Greens of all people are advocating gunboat diplomacy.

    NZ sent a warship to Mururoa in the 70s. This was a deliberately provocative act to the French, and at the time senior NZ naval officers and diplomats were very worried that the French would respond by having a French warship closely shadow the NZ frigate, and things could get out of hand very fast. NZ was giving a deliberate and provocative insult to France. NZ got away with it because we were closely allied to the UK and US and with the broader Soviet threat at the time the French decided to live with the deliberate provocation by NZ.

    No such constraints exist this time – the Japanese would see NZ sending a warship as a threat and an insult (“send a very useful and pointed message to Tokyo”), and could respond by sending a bigger warship of their own…

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Longknives (4,744 comments) says:

    Kowtow-That’s because Maori invented Whales…

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Many Japanese, particularly those over 40 or so, would still like to eat whale, and a year ago Japan’s Fisheries Minister said last year Japan would never stop hunting whales, and compared eating them to Australians eating kangaroos.

    However, Japanese aren’t the only whale eaters. Norwegians eat whale, which tastes like tender steak. Some other Scandinavians like it, too.

    It would be great if there was some way we could farm pygmy whales. NZ’s current account deficits would be history. Rounding them up would be a cinch for our Maori whale riders.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    If the Japanese really do want to eat whalemeat, can’t we make them a present of, or even sell them, the meat from the ones that seem actually to want to end their own lives, and do so by insisting on beaching themselves here?

    Then the Japanese wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of finding and killing whales that /don’t/ want to die.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Yogibear (366 comments) says:

    If we were truly serious about ending whaling we (along with our other partners in crime such as the Aussies) would front up with some cash to offset all the sweet deals that get done for country votes at the International Whaling Commission (which legally sanctions whaling).

    That would also probably be money better spent by Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd too – but of course, these organisations are attractive to their grass roots by being trouble-makers and “activists” and waging an effective financial campaign just isn’t sexy.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    The way this is going Greenpeace will soon be protesting that Japan is no longer whaling.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Odakyu-sen (653 comments) says:

    “Was there not some reports that demonstrated that whale meat eating was done historically by only a small minority of coastal mainland Japs,and deep sea harvesting of whales is only a myth perpetrated over the last 40yrs ? ”

    I wouldn’t be too sure about that. By the mid-30s, the Japanese fleet was operating in Antarctic waters. Ref: http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/whale-wars/about-whaling/why-japanese-hunt-whales.htm

    Certainly in the immediate post-war period, whale meat was a significant source of protein for the hungry Japanese population.

    Like the Japanese military junta of the 30s and early 40s, the Americans used the Showa Emperor to manipulate the Japanese population in the post-war period (very successfully, I might add).

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. edhunter (546 comments) says:

    My childhood memories of the “Save the Whale” campaigns was that if we don’t stop they’ll become extinct. As I’ve said before I don’t want to see any species become extinct by the hand of man, but if it can be done sustainably I don’t have a problem.
    Hard not think about the Chicken/Cow episode of South Park classic.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Did the Seashepherds ever clean the Ady Gil up from the ocean floor?

    I have no sympathy for the psuedo-militants who want government protection and exemption at the same time.

    Thank you to whoever pointed out the India connection. Imagine cow-worshippers telling whale-worshippers what to do!

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Crusader (314 comments) says:

    What are the Greens going to do about the 39 dead whales on Farewell Spit???

    Send frigates to Farewell Spit.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    “no commercial market for the whales anymore in Japan”
    I saw quite a bit of it in my wife’s hometown of Takeo, Kyushu, as well as in the Jagalchi fish market in Busan S Korea last year, so obviously there is a market.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Tautaioleua (305 comments) says:

    The issue here is not Japanese whaling. It’s Japanese whaling in New Zealand waters without authorisation. Like the neighbourhood thugs who pick fruit from your trees without asking.

    We should call in the Chinese navy. They’ll know how to handle this.

    :-)

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    I do not believe that our Frigates are constructed up to the standard required to withstand the conditions in the Southern Oceans.
    I recollect that one had some of his superstructures stoved in in heavy seas there.
    Their hulls are not up to Naval standard of construction, but are of Commercial vessel standard – another fuckwit procurement when ordered.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. dog_eat_dog (780 comments) says:

    What was the Green Party view of the Russians doing this exact same thing when it was Greenpeace committing acts of piracy?

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    The issue here is not Japanese whaling. It’s Japanese whaling in New Zealand waters without authorisation.

    They’re not.

    But the fact you think they are means that the propaganda campaign is working for someone at least.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    We sent a frigate to Mururoa Atoll to make a point back in the early 1970s, and that eventually forced the French to give up their nuclear testing.

    I believe the last tests were in 1995 weren’t they?

    I seem to recall they were doing a series of 6 to get enough data to allow computer simulations, and the Americans gave them their data to allow them to stop early.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    Edhunter: “I’ve said before I don’t want to see any species become extinct by the hand of man, but if it can be done sustainably I don’t have a problem.”

    I agree Ed. But I’d add the caveat that it should be done without cruelty.
    And you’d be hard pressed to argue that whaling is not cruel. The animals are chased down by fast ships and eventually get caught because they are exhausted, so it is the slower ones such as mothers with calves or pregnant which get caught. Harpooning is a barbaric way of killing – a very high proportion either drown while being pulled in or have to be finished off with secondary harpoons or rifles.

    It is that whaling cannot be done without inflicting great cruelty on an intelligent social animal.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    “I believe the last tests were in 1995 weren’t they?”
    That was underground tests. The French stopped atmospheric tests in 1974. They were still testing when the NZ warships turned up, but stopped shortly after, probably because the NZ action had helped highlight that what the French were doing was in violation of a decision by the international court.

    This highlights an important difference between the French nuclear testing in the 1970s and whaling today – atmospheric nuclear testing in the 1970s was a very clear breach of international law, whereas the Japanese claim that their whaling is “scientific research” and therefore legal under international law. The case is before the International Court of Justice. If the court finds against Japan, then Japan will have to stop whaling or be in breach of international law.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. edhunter (546 comments) says:

    Done without cruelty? Perhaps we should get our own back yard in order before we start accusing other nations of cruelty.
    For a start lets ban all hunting because after all you cant guarantee a clean kill so there goes the Annual bunny hunt, there goes duck season, no more venison (unless it’s farmed). What about pig hunting? setting the dogs after the pigs bailing them up until the hunter can come along & stick it with a knife all the while the poor piggy wiggy has 3-4 dogs hanging of it squealing & obviously in pain oh how barbaric.
    Indiscriminate fishing, the needless drowning of 1000’s of tonnes of fish that are then discarded because they’re not the target species. Caged Chickens, caged pigs.
    I could go on & on about the ‘cruelty’ we dish out to our animal friends, so again I ask what’s so bloody special about the bloody whale?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. greenjacket (465 comments) says:

    edhunter: I agree that we should also have “our back yard in order” – many of the issues you describe are dealt with in the Codes of Animal Welfare, such as caged hens, caged pigs, etc. The Animal Welfare Act is currently being amended, which will bring pig hunting with dogs under the Act.

    There is an ethical difference between whaling and hunting. Rabbits, pigs, etc are a pest. They can escape – whales are not “hunted” so much as chased down by ships equipped with sonar to exhaustion. They are *usually* killed immediately, and I think most hunters attempt to kill cleanly and avoid suffering. And whaling disproportionately affects mothers of calves and pregnant cows.

    And lastly, whaling is commercial slaughter, not hunting. In NZ we have very clear standards around commercial slaughter of animals. Would you be happy if cows were chased to exhaustion, shot with an explosive bolt, and killed by bleeding out while being dragged by a truck?

    Whaling inflicts suffering on intelligent social animals, and saying that the same thing happens in NZ is hardly a defence of whaling.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    Definitely Sea Shepherds fault that Japan continues to slaughter whales just as young females invite sexual predators to take advantage of them by wearing skimpy outfits and getting grossly intoxicated.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. Dave Mann (1,218 comments) says:

    @thepeoplesflag Sending a warship to express our displeasure at the actions of an ally whilst using diplomatic channels to point out their whaling fleets behaviour is making supporting Japan against China a really, really hard sell would be a most useful bit of diplomatic theatre.

    I think you’re correct (which is why I gave you a thumbs up) in that it WOULD be a very strong diplomatic action which would turn heads, but I don’t think we SHOULD take this couse because I totally support the Japs’ right to hunt and eat whales and I think the GreenTalibans should be sunk and the survivors put on trial for piracy.

    btw… I’d love it if some enterprising outfit would import frozen whale patties into NZ. I’d buy them in a flash from my local New World, just to try them :D

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Two things.

    Australia and New Zealand’s ICJ case against whaling is more about a moral and cultural aversion to the practice of whaling, which has nothing to do with legal matters regarding scientific whaling.

    The ICJ case cuts both ways. If Australia and New Zealand really “win”, then expect Japan to cease it’s activities (or it might quit the IWC in that case, but that’s an outlier). I think an Aussie/Kiwi “win” is the least likely outcome. The flip side of this is a vindication of Japan’s research activities. This is my base scenario. A third scenario (and second most likely) is that the ICJ comes down somewhere in the middle, but I see no reasonable legal reasons to justify that – the ICJ judges predominantly hailing from anti-whaling nations is the reason I assign it a probability.

    There is almost zero chance that Japan needs to stop whaling entirely. You have to remember at the end of the day that Sir Geoff Palmer had advised against taking the legal action, because the reality is that legally Japan has good grounds to stand on.

    But as is the case with the whaling debate, the anti-whaling camp will ignore whatever the ICJ says that it does not like, and talk up the parts that they do like (if any), and claim that Japan is cheating.

    Second thing.

    It’s amazing to see how many experts there are on the Japanese market for whale meat in the western world. Just how did some many western observers become experts on this? How come they seem to ignore the fact that Iceland is able to commercially export it’s whale products to Japan?

    In reality, there is a commercial whaling ban. The result? Supply of whale meat in Japan is highly constrained from a recent historical perspective. There is a little amount of meat made available from Japan’s scientific programmes. And a little amount of meat made available from Iceland. And a little from by-catch. That’s it.

    The anti-whaling propaganda has it that the existence of a “stockpile” of whale meat indicates a lack of demand. But that defies standard economic logic. Only things that are worth something are held in inventory – keeping the stuff frozen is not cost-free. If there was truly a lack of demand, whale meat inventory levels should be building and building and building. But if one checks the propaganda over the past decade, it all has the amount of meat in storage fluctuating between 3,000 and 7,000 tonnes. Which is miniscule in historical terms.

    Yep, whale meat is food in Japan. Deal with it. Antarctic minke whales are also extremely numerous. If one cares about preventing whale extinctions, then Antarctic minke whales are what you should be praying that the Japanese will target for commercial purposes.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    @greenjacket I’m obviously late to the party, but the idea that whaling is wrong because the way they are killed is very wrong. You can’t just focus on the method of killing, you need to consider the entire life cycle. Whales have it great compared with most of the morsel that ends up on New Zealand dinner tables. The simple test is to ask yourself which you would rather come back as – whale or cow? As a whale you have an odds-on chance of dying a death unrelated to humans eating you. As a cow? Shucks, don’t even ask.

    Rabbits, pigs etc are a pest??? Sure, to some people maybe. If that’s justification for killing them then how is whales being regarded as FOOD by the Japanese, Norwegians, Icelanders and others not suitable justification? If it’s OK to kill a “pest” then it absolutely must be OK to kill something that will ultimately be eaten. (And eating whales IS the reason why the Japanese study their populations, like any good stock manager should.)

    If there is something I really don’t like about these whaling debates, it is humans arbitrarily deciding which types of animals are to be food, and which are not. Each to their own.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote