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Marine Life & Conservation

Japanese Prime Minister tells Parliament he will “boost efforts” to restart commercial whaling

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Japan’s Prime Minister has told parliament he will boost efforts towards restarting commercial whaling, despite a UN court order that Tokyo must halt killing whales in the Antarctic.

Shinzo Abe’s comments on Monday were likely to cause dismay for those who had hoped the ruling by the international court of justice (ICJ) would herald the beginning of the end of the whale hunt.

“I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources,” he told a parliamentary commission.

“To that end, I will step up efforts further to get understanding from the international community.”

Abe said that in contrast to the foreign perception that whaling communities mercilessly exploit the marine mammals, whaling towns show respect to the animals, with religious services at the end of every hunting season. “It is regrettable that this part of Japanese culture is not understood,” he said.

Japan has continued to hunt whales by exploiting a loophole in a 1986 global moratorium that allows lethal research on the mammals. But the country has made no secret of the fact that the meat ends up in restaurants and at fish markets.

The annual hunt in the Southern Ocean has proved particularly contentious, with sometimes violent confrontations between whalers and protesters.

Australia, backed by New Zealand, took Japan before the ICJ in 2010 in an attempt to stop the yearly hunt. The court said the hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as research.

Tokyo called off its 2014-15 Antarctic season, and said it would redesign the mission in an effort to make it more scientific.

A separate hunt in the north-west Pacific continues, as do hunts in coastal waters, which are not covered by the moratorium.

Since the ICJ ruling, Japanese e-commerce marketplace Rakuten has told online retailers they cannot sell whale and dolphin meat through its site.

But dealing in whale meat “does not violate international or domestic laws in any way”, said the Japanese fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Hayashi told the same parliamentary committee that Rakuten had made a commercial decision as a private firm and that the increasing number of companies refusing to sell whale meat was “regrettable”.

Inviting people to dine on whale in his ministry, he said a “whale week” campaign, which began on Monday, was part of efforts to let Japanese people know that whaling and eating whale meat are part of their culture.

At the opening event, Hayashi ate whale meat steak with other MPs who support whaling, before moving to a cafeteria in the farm ministry building, where he had a lunch set of whale meat tataki, a dish similar to carpaccio, seasoned with shredded green onions.

During the campaign week, visitors will be given a chance to taste a small portion of fried whale meat for free, according to the ministry.

Japan’s consumption of whale meat has diminished greatly in recent decades and it is no longer a regular part of most people’s diet. But powerful lobbying forces have ensured the continued subsidisation of the hunt with taxpayer money.

Tokyo has always maintained it was trying to prove whale populations were big enough to sustain commercial hunts.

 

Source: www.islandsbusiness.com

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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