Palau’s new shark sanctuary covers 600,000 square kilometers of almost all open ocean, making patrolling for outlaws a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. In addition, Palau is attempting to make its new sanctuary a model for marine conservation for other small island nations, many of which are more water than land. So the eyes of the Pacific, if not the world, are on Palau to set a model. And they’re going to need help – but the big question is from whom?
Japan has temporarily suspended its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic after anti-whaling activists obstructed its fleet’s mother ship.
Officials in Tokyo have conceded that this year’s mission, which had again been the target of international criticism, had not gone as well as hoped and the fleet may be called home early, according to reports.
Tatsuya Nakaoku, a fisheries agency official, said the decision was taken after the mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, was “harassed” by members of the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd.
“Putting a priority on safety, the fleet has halted scientific whaling for now,” he said. “We are currently considering what to do next.”
I still question the sustainability of a direct action campaign that requires the sheer amount of time and resources that the SSCS Antarctic whaling campaigns require, how this will play out in the Japanese media, and whether there are other pieces in play here, but for now, enjoy your victory Sea Shepherd, it’s been a long time coming.
In the spirit of the pseudoscience of astrology here are our top ten predictions for 2011, based partially on informed guesswork and mostly on Yuengling.
Largely ignored by the mainstream media, the impact of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill will continue to be felt across the Gulf Coast. BP and NOAA will continue to make it difficult for scientists to get access to sediment cores. The first developmental effects of oil and dispersant exposure to fetuses and young children will be reported.
Science will be more frequently put on trial, as politicians attempt to supplant peer-review by suing climate scientists and challenging NSF and NIH grants. This approach will backfire as more Americans come to accept global climate change and a new generation of Monkey Trials makes a mockery of anti-science politicians. Both sides will frequently pat themselves on the back and declare victory.
The Southern Fried Scientist will start raising chickens, Bluegrass Blue Crab will start raising goats, WhySharksMatter will raise some sort of ruckus.
The economy will improve, just in time for everyone to start campaigning for the 2012 election. All sides will claim responsibility for the recovery and all side will blame the opposition for the collapse. Despite almost every politician claiming responsibility for a now successful economy, most Americans won’t notice any change.
Sea Shepherd will claim their best year ever in the Southern Ocean whale campaign, despite there being no significant difference in the average number of whales killed since 2005 – 450 (+ or – 50). Theatrics will ensue.
Several large mammal species will make a comeback, as populations begin to rebound after years of conservation initiatives.
As the world population continues to grow, people will slowly begin to realize that Malthus was wrong, and that in cases such as India, demographic momentum will have massive positive benefits for quality of life, food availability, and environmental consciousness.
Every piece of plastic you used last year will still exist this year.
Sales of hybrid and electric cars will reach an all time high. I will continue to drive the same truck I’ve driven for 10 years until it won’t run, then replace it with something used.
WhySharksMatter will finish his book – Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help. He will decide to use a shorter title.
eBay has been running a contest called “My Nonprofit” for the last month. The three non-profit charities with the most votes will receive $15,000; $10,000; and $5,000 from eBay. Finalists include worthy charities such as the American Red Cross, Race for the Cure, and Doctors Without Borders. As of right now, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is winning. Yikes.
Please go to the contest website and vote…for someone other than Sea Shepherd. The contest closes on July 4th.
We sparked a good debate over the effectiveness of direct action conservation movements over at the post “Is Sea Shepherd really saving whales?” One of the most difficult questions raised was if Sea Shepherd wasn’t there, would the Japanese make their full quota? The data presented in that post was inconclusive, because the quota increase corresponded to the beginning of SSCS’s Southern Ocean campaign, so we have no time period in which the Japanese quota was increased while Sea Shepherd was absent.
Sea Shepherd claims that their actions in the Southern Ocean opposing Japanese whaling fleets has effectively reduced the number of whales killed. What always rubbed me the wrong way about these claims is that they always compare their success against the Institute for Cetacean Research (the Japanese organization that oversees ‘scientific whaling’) Quotas. So at some point you have to ask the question, in absolute numbers, has Sea Shepherd really reduced the number of whales killed?
To answer that we need three pieces of information:
When did Sea Shepherd begin it’s campaign against Japanese ‘scientific whaling’?
What are the ICR quotas for that time frame?
What are the absolute catches for that time frame?
We have been and continue to be critical of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Although their goals are admirable their methods are not only ineffective, but in some cases impair the achievement of those goals. With the premier of Whale Wars season 3 tomorrow evening, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the issues we’ve raised concerning the SSCS. Over the last two years we’ve written a number of post summarizing our problems with Sea Shepherd:
As promised, this week’s ethical debate deals with one of the most hotly debated issues in the marine conservation community- the tactics of “Sea Shepherd”.
Though “Sea Shepherd” is most famous (or infamous) for their work with the Japanese whaling fleet, which is featured in “Whale Wars”, they are also heavily involved with the shark finning industry.
Before we get started, I want to say something about the tone of this debate. I know from our own comments sections, even ones that don’t deal directly with Sea Shepherd, that there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue. See last week’s Deep Sea News, particularly the comments section, for an example of this. Here at Southern Fried Science, we recently came up with a new comments policy, which we will be enforcing strictly with this post. DO NOT personally attack anyone, DO NOT try to change the subject to something totally irrelevant, and DO NOT post under multiple names to create the false appearance of a majority (“sock puppetry”). Since the Deep Sea News post covered whale stuff pretty solidly, we will only be talking about shark finning here. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT WHALING IN THIS POST.
You know, we have a history on this blog of criticizing Sea Shepherd. We frequently criticize their methods, motivations, and effectiveness (we also went out of our way to add opposing views when we raised such a contentious issue). For a select group of readers, criticizing one conservation organization is tantamount to criticizing them all. If we say Sea Shepherd has been ineffective in protecting sharks, inevitably someone will assume that we’re in favor of shark finning. I don’t understand that leap of logic, but I’ve seen it come up so often that I know to expect it, probably even on this post. I can also expect someone to say “At least they’re doing something!” That is, of course, completely missing the point, since our argument is that the ‘something’ they’re doing is making it harder to affect real, lasting, change.
So let me begin by saying this – assume Sea Shepherd’s motives are absolutely pure, assume they really are try to protect the oceans, assume their commitment is absolute, then our main argument is still sound – they aren’t doing a very good job and they are generating a lot of ill will in the process.
“Oh sure,” you say, “you can rag on Sea Shepherd ’til your face turns blue. Why don’t you show us someone who’s doing it right?”
I’m going to give a hat tip to the MarineBioBlog now, instead of at the end, since you really should go read their post before you continue. It’s very good and I’d hate to steal another blog’s thunder.