Marine Life & Conservation
Japanese Prime Minister tells Parliament he will “boost efforts” to restart commercial whaling
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.
Marine Life & Conservation
The Shark Trust Great Shark Snapshot is back!
The last week of July will see the return of the Shark Trust’s citizen science initiative that invites divers and snorkelers, all around the world, to record the sharks and rays that they see between the 22nd and 30th. After the success of the first event, this year is going to be even bigger and better.
Information about the species and numbers of sharks and rays the participants find over the week will be added to the Shark Trust’s Shark Log. This global shark census will, over time, allow shark scientists to build a picture of species distribution and any changes that occur. Sharks are threatened by destructive fishing, climate change and habitat loss. The data collected during the Great Shark Snapshot will help scientists put effective conservation plans in place.
Dive clubs, centres, and liveaboards can sign up to show their support for this event and advertise their planned dives on the Great Shark Snapshot registration page. Divers looking to join an event will be able to use the map to find Great Shark Snapshot dives taking place near them. As well as gathering vital data, the event will provide a chance to celebrate the incredible shark and ray species that live close to you.
Caroline Robertson-Brown, Marketing Coordinator at the Shark Trust said: “It was wonderful to see so many divers take part in our first event last year. What is even better is seeing those dive centres and liveaboards returning to take part again this year, along with many more signing up for the first time.”
With the event still 2 months away, dive centres and liveaboards from over 20 countries have already signed up to take part. From Palau to Costa Rica. From the UK to Australia. Whether you are diving your local dive site, or on the diving trip of a lifetime. You can take part in the Great Shark Snapshot.
It is easy to join in. Just go diving between 22nd and 30th July and record every shark, ray and skate that your dive group sees. If possible, take photos and some video footage too. The Shark Trust really wants to see what species you encounter on your dives. Then make sure that you record your sightings on the Shark Trust Shark Log recordings website or by using the Shark Trust app.
The Great Shark Snapshot is a way for divers to get together, go diving, and do something to help shark conservation. Why not dive in?
Find out more here: www.sharktrust.org/snapshot
Fourth Element now planting a tree for every online order
Global dive brand Fourth Element has announced the launch of their “Plant for the Planet” initiative, a commitment towards offsetting their carbon footprint and supporting environmental conservation through tree planting and mangrove restoration.
As a brand dedicated to sustainability and environmental conservation, Fourth Element has partnered with Ecologi, a leading platform for climate action, to plant a tree for every online order received. By working with Ecologi, Fourth Element ensures that the trees and mangroves planted are part of verified reforestation projects around the world that have a positive impact on local communities and biodiversity.
Trees play a crucial role in the health of our planet, absorbing carbon dioxide and providing oxygen, while also supporting biodiversity. In addition, mangroves, which grow in coastal areas, are essential in protecting our oceans and mitigating climate change. They absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and provide habitat for a wide range of marine life. However, both trees and mangroves are under threat from deforestation and development.
“Plant for the Planet” reflects Fourth Element’s commitment to taking responsibility for their impact on the environment and promoting sustainability in their business practices. By choosing to shop with Fourth Element, customers are also supporting the company’s efforts to protect the environment and promote positive change.
“We believe that it is our duty as a business to take action and make a positive impact on the planet,” said Paul Strike, CEO of Fourth Element. “Through our partnership with Ecologi and our ‘Plant for the Planet’ initiative, we are taking steps to offset our carbon footprint and support reforestation and mangrove restoration projects, which are critical for the health of our oceans and the planet as a whole.”
Fourth Element’s “Plant for the Planet” initiative is part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. The company continues to explore ways to reduce their environmental footprint and promote responsible practices within the dive industry.
For more information about Fourth Element and their “Plant for the Planet” initiative, please visit www.fourthelement.com/plant-for-the-planet.
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