Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This is to all of you cool Activists that are the #voiceforthevoiceless !
From Oceana.

You are unstoppable.

Oceana activists like you have taken action over 600,000 times this year—sending letters, calling legislators, joining demonstrations—and your hard work has led to some amazing victories.

Oceana can only win protections for ocean creatures and ecosystems because of your participation. Here are some of the victories you helped win this year:

No seismic airgun blasts in the Atlantic —We’ve been fighting for over a year to keep seismic airgun blasting for oil out of the Atlantic. Over 100,000 supporters like you signed petitions, made calls, and attended meetings to stop these dangerous blasts this year. Then in August, the Department of the Interior (DOI) postponed their decision on the blasts for the third time in the face of public pressure. We’ve given the DOI plenty to think about, and with your help, we can make sure their final decision is the right one for dolphins and whales this coming year.

Protecting Spanish seafloor habitats—After seven years of campaigning by Oceana, Spain has agreed to prohibit trawling over fragile habitats on the seamounts of the Mallorca Channel and the coral reefs east of Cabrera, protecting these important habitats from being crushed and destroyed by fishing activity.

Saving sharks—Over 4,000 Oceana activists in New York petitioned for their state to ban the trade of shark fins, and in July, New York became the eighth US state to implement a shark fin trade ban. In the same month, the European Union banned all shark finning by EU vessels after a five-year campaign by Oceana and partners.

Stopping offshore drilling in Belize—Oceana’s supporters in Belize and across the world have shown up again and again to protest offshore drilling in Belize’s famous barrier reef, collecting over 20,000 signatures for a national referendum, and then organizing to cast 29,235 votes in a “People’s Referendum.” And this year, Belize’s Supreme Court declared all offshore drilling contracts issued by the Belizean government null and void, essentially stopping all offshore drilling in Belizean waters. The battle to protect Belize’s reef goes on, but our activists in Belize and beyond should be proud of what you've accomplished.

These victories could never have happened without you! Thank you for taking time for the oceans.

Thank you,
Rachael Prokop

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Government ministers gave a dramatic demonstration of their commitment to shark conservation today, by releasing three of the marine animals into the ocean, and then ensuring they swam in the right direction into open water.

"It's like herding cats," Conservation Minister Nick Smith said as he waded into the bay on Wellington's south coastline.

Dr Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy were on the coast to announce details of the draft National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks.

Banning shark finning was part of that proposal and it was welcomed by conservation groups, but the seafood industry said if the shark was already dead it made sense to harvest some of the carcass rather than throw it all back.

It is already an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to fin a shark and return it to the sea alive. However, it is lawful to catch a shark, kill it, remove its fins and dump the carcass at sea.

Dr Smith said it was that kind of waste that would be targeted under the proposal, which was out for public consultation until December.
Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said the result of the proposal would be that instead of taking sharks' fins from the dead animals, "the whole carcase just gets heaved back into the sea if it comes aboard dead".
"No shark is targeted for their fins alone and in the tuna fishery where blue sharks are a significant bycatch the focus needs to be on reducing that catch."

Fishing company Sealord said the plan did not affect it, as it had a "non shark finning" policy for the last 18 months.

The New Zealand Shark Alliance (NZSA) said the proposal was good news for sharks and New Zealand's environmental reputation.
"We strongly support today's announcement and will be encouraging the Government to implement the ban quickly, especially in the highly migratory species fishery which is New Zealand's main shark finning fishery," Katrina Subedar, NZSA spokeswoman and Forest & Bird Marine Conservation advocate said.

"Once this becomes law New Zealand will join over 100 other countries and states to have banned this senseless and wasteful practice."

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas said there was huge support from New Zealanders for a ban on shark finning.

"This year tens of thousands of people have pledged their support for a ban. Now we're urging them to go online and support the Government's proposal."

The proposal also gained cross party support, but Labour and the Greens said it should have happened sooner.

Labour's fisheries spokesman Damien O'Connor said New Zealand had been "tardy" in proposing the plan and followed countries such as Australia, the United States and the European Union.

"In New Zealand, conservation groups estimate 24,000 tonnes of sharks are caught in our waters. Most of the world's sharks that are caught are thrown back with only 2 per cent of the shark being used."

Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said he was "delighted" the Government had finally acknowledged the activity could not be allowed to continue.

"The Greens have been calling for a ban on shark finning for over five years, and it is great that the Government has finally woken up to the importance of this issue."
Mr Guy said in some fisheries the ban will be able to be implemented on October 1 next year. Others would require the development of guidelines for shark handling to maximise the survival of released sharks.
The ban on shark finning would be enforced by extra observers and cameras on commercial fleets as well as proposed a $100,000 fine for those breaking the ban.
"I think that's a very strong signal from Government that we expect the industry to change," Dr Smith said.


Sharks in New Zealand:

* New Zealand waters have 113 species of shark;

* more than 70 shark species have been recorded in commercial fisheries;

* seven species of shark are absolutely protected under the Wildlife Act 1953, including great whites, basking sharks and deep water nursing sharks;

* shark fins are valuable for making shark fin soup, which is a delicacy in Asia, and for the production of many Asian medicines.


By Rebecca Quilliam 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cousteau and World Cetacean Alliance Making a Splash
World Whale Conference and Live Stream November 6 and 7. 2013

If you could change the world, would you?
Would you get off your ass, answer the call, and rise to the occasion?

Are you willing to join with a million others to send a single message, a powerful message, a compelling, world changing message to governments and corporations and those individuals around the world who profit from the captive exploitation, and contribute to the of barbaric execution, of whales, dolphins and porpoises?

The ocean is our life support system, it is what sustains us. When it is at risk, we are at risk. There is a precarious balance between humankind and nature - a reality we must never forget.

If we are going to change the world to save ourselves, we have to save the ocean; and if we are going to save the ocean we have to start by saving the cetaceans. We have to protect their habitat and ensure that all marine life can thrive, so that we can too.

Last year, at the first World Whale Conference, delegates agreed that a new coalition should be formed to effectively protect the world's cetaceans from the many and varied threats that they face.

On November 6-7, the 2013 World Whale Conference will be held in Cruiseport, Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA.

With the conference as its backdrop, the inaugural meeting of the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) is guaranteed to make a splash on the international stage; bearing a new banner carried by its first Honorary President, Jean-Michel Cousteau:

"Without collaboration we will achieve nothing more than a drop in the ocean. The World Cetacean Alliance is a unique opportunity to combine our collective energy, knowledge, and expertise in order to protect whales, dolphins, and their habitats."
Introducing the WCA
© WCA, used with permission, all rights reserved

Dylan Walker, Secretariat of the WCA, emphasizes that the World Cetacean Alliance represents a new and powerful global community that is willing to work together to protect cetaceans and their habitats. Walker says the WCA will actively seek recognition and influence as the largest international network of experts and advocates for whales and dolphins.

"We currently have a reach of 850,000 people through the WCA partners and hope to crack a million by the end of the conference. That's funding, marketing, and campaigning power we intend to use to help cetaceans, including captive orca which is at the top of our list."


Part of the first year challenge for the WCA has been identifying "Hotspots" around the world where cetaceans are at risk. To do this, the WCA has created a survey using a mapping tool called "sea sketch" and invited the public to participate by identifying locations on the map which deserve attention. The information is being entered into a database and used to identify issues and bring pressure for change. You can take the survey here.

The top three issues for the WCA are:

Releasing the wild orca called Morgan from captivity in Loro Parque;
Saving the critically endangered Maui's dolphin in New Zealand; and
Protecting the Southern Ocean / Ross Sea from whaling and other destructive practices.

Cousteau Has a Dream

It is only fitting that Jean-Michel Cousteau would be the first Honorary President of the WCA.
He is a tireless and impassioned advocate for cetaceans, with a special place in his heart for orca.

When I first met Jean-Michel, he held up his iPhone and displayed a picture of a trainer standing on the nose of an orca and said - in a tone which I will never forget: "This has to stop, this is anti-educational, don't tell me that kids learn anything when we are doing these circus acts." (Photo © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society)

In a recent article, Call to Freedom, Jean-Michel talks about his personal experience with Keiko, the male orca made famous in the film, Free Willy. He talks about the plight of Tilikum, and speaks of hope for other captive orca including Corky, 
and of course Morgan, the young wild born female captured in the Netherlands, illicitly sold toSeaWorld, and the subject of an ongoing international custody battle. Cousteau writes:

"My dream would be that it be illegal to capture any orca anywhere for any reason. The orcas now in captivity could be prevented from reproducing and would live their lives in retirement under the best conditions we could provide. There would be no "shows," no entertainment, only activities to keep the orcas active. They would die of premature death like all captive orcas. A sad chapter in the history of our treatment of sentient, intelligent, complex animals like orcas would finally close, with the recognition that captivity of these animals has moved and changed us as well.

My dream would also be that we honor the lives of these captive orcas by assembling an international group of brilliant scientists, animal cognition and behavior experts and human psychologists and that they devise humane studies to understand as best we can the intelligence and mental capabilities of these temporary ambassadors of the sea. We are in the presence of alien intelligence and we are asking them to jump. It is a tragedy of a different magnitude." Jean-Michel Cousteau
2013 World Whale Conference

The lineup for the conference is an impressive who's who list of cetacean experts and advocates: Dylan Walker (WCA Secretariat); Bill Rossiter (Cetacean Society International); Keith Takaoka (BiLLe Fund Ltd); Thorsten Lisker (WCA Individual Partner); Ian Rowlands (WhaleFest co-founder); John Fanshawe (BirdLife International); Patricia Sullivan (Cetacean Society International); Michael Fishbach (The Great Whale Conservancy); Sami Mhenni (Houtiyat); Floppy "Jo" Halliday (Whale Rescue); Barbara Maas (Nabu International); Dr. Naomi Rose (Animal Welfare Institute); and Dr. Ingrid Visser (Orca Research Trust).

The full conference agenda and speaker's schedule can be found here.
David Kirby, author of Death at SeaWorld,
will be giving the keynote address, and it should come as no surprise that the conference will also feature a special screening of Gabriela Cowperthwaite's powerful documentary Blackfish; the hard hitting expose that challenges society to examine the harm to cetaceans, and consider the ethical cost to humanity, posed by SeaWorld's captive orca shows.

Following the screening of Blackfish there will be a special panel discussion led by two of the world's most knowledgeable orca experts - Dr. Ingrid Visser and Dr. Naomi Rose. Dr. Visser will give an update on the efforts to Free Morgan
and Dr. Rose is sure to share her thoughts about keeping orca and dolphins in captivity, and alternatives to the concrete tanks found in places like SeaWorld - a topic which she recently wrote about in this article.

Information about tickets to the conference can be found here and at the WCA website:

For those who can't physically attend the conference, the WCA will be live streaming the event here
and everyone is encouraged to join in beginning at 9:30 a.m. (ET) on November 6th and 7th.

Follow Matthew Spiegl on Twitter:

Sunday, November 3, 2013


“The WCA urges everyone to boycott parks using cetaceans for entertainment that do not actively and publicly oppose the Taiji hunt. We live in a global community, where every one of us can influence what is happening, even if it is on the other side of the world. Now is the time to act. Now is our chance to make a difference.”



Marine parks fund annual Japanese massacre of thousands of dolphins and porpoises by paying $150,000 a time for young dolphins – 250 times the value of those killed for their meat.

“The time has come to view captivity of whales and dolphins as a part of our history – not a tragic part of our future,” says Jean-Michel Cousteau, Honorary President of the World Cetacean Alliance.

Members of the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), including WhaleFest and Dolphin Connection Experience in the UK, are calling for a mass public protest against the slaughter of dolphins and porpoises that is about to start in Japan.

From this September to next March, a dolphin drive hunt made famous by the film ‘The Cove’ will see thousands of dolphins and porpoises hunted or trapped by nets and then bloodily slaughtered, either by harpooning or by having a metal stake driven into their head.

WCA members help specialists to document the cruelty of the drive, track the captive displays whose purchases motivate the fishermen involved, and support Japanese nationals who oppose the drives most effectively in ways appropriate to the culture.

“The World Cetacean Alliance urges everybody who cares not only for the health and wellbeing of these animals, but also for the way in which humankind relates to nature, to take action over the massacre that is about to happen in Japan,” says Ian Rowlands of WhaleFest. “Lodge an objection with your local Japanese embassy or with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. And help to make sure the world’s marine parks also oppose the slaughter.”

Younger dolphins taken from the pods that are trapped in the killing cove at Taiji are sold to aquatic parks across the world. These sales – at around $150,000 per dolphin – help to fund the drive and contribute significantly to its continuation.

Some of the world’s zoos, aquariums and marine attractions directly support the drive by paying the hunters for these live show dolphins. Many others are conveniently ignoring it.

“A dead dolphin is worth around $600 for its meat. A live one sold to a marine park is worth up to 250 times that figure,” says Amanda Stafford of Dolphin Connection Experience. “Cutting off that demand could have a big impact on future culls. That’s why – in addition to directing our protests at Japan – we also need to tell the marine park industry that we will not tolerate their use of these animals for entertainment purposes any more and that we expect them to actively oppose this annual outrage.”

Ongoing legal cases in the USA, combined with the publicity surrounding the book ‘Death At SeaWorld’ and the documentary film ‘Blackfish’ have highlighted the plight of captive orcas and other cetaceans at marine parks.

“Recent events have opened the public’s eyes to the realities of incarcerating intelligent, sociable, sentient beings in cramped conditions and forcing them to perform for ‘entertainment’ purposes,” says Dylan Walker, WCA Secretariat.

“The WCA urges everyone to boycott parks using cetaceans for entertainment that do not actively and publicly oppose the Taiji hunt. We live in a global community, where every one of us can influence what is happening, even if it is on the other side of the world. Now is the time to act. Now is our chance to make a difference.”

WCA Honorary President Jean-Michel Cousteau agrees. “The time has come to view captivity of whales and dolphins as a part of our history – not a tragic part of our future,” he says.