Friday, June 05, 2009

Bites For A Cause: Humpback Whale Huniting to Resume In Europe

Homing into the academic roots and study of marine sciences, it's been pretty easy to partner up with groups like Oceana to write about Sustainable Sailor practices or in this case, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and their current campaign to encourage the world not to take for granted the North Atlantic Humpback Whale. Here is the latest news from the WDCS:

Humpback whales in the line of fire – Europe to decide their fate

The humpback whale is one of the most prominent large whale species (famous for their “singing”/long mating calls) and has been protected from commercial whaling since 1966.
However, this species will be in the firing line at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to be held June 22 – 26th on Madeira, Portugal. Denmark is expected to request a quota to kill 10 humpback whales off the coast of West Greenland. The vote of the EU-block will be decisive in whether or not the first humpback whales in decades will be killed legally in European waters.

Denmark’s abuse of the aboriginals’ right to “subsistence whaling.”

Denmark, on behalf of Greenland, is expected to submit a proposal for the killing of 10 humpback whales a year under the IWC’s “Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling” (ASW)-category. Greenland claims that its current ASW-quota is not sufficient to satisfy its population’s need for whale meat.

If the international community were to approve this request, it would be the first time in decades that the otherwise totally protected humpback whale would be hunted in Europe. The position of the 23 European Union countries, which are also IWC members and who must vote as a block, is likely to determine the decision.

For the sailor, it's a unique love affair with marine mammals. They are beautiful and scary. Scary because an encounter with them, when today's ocean racing designs move so fast can be devastating for both the animal and the human. However, seeing one is such a special moment given how few there are in the world. One has to hope, with better understanding of these animals, setting up whale exclusion zones like that seen off Boston will help both sailor and whale to "move" about the oceans more harmoniously.

Stay tuned...more to come later this month. Furthermore, while reporting from Sweden and Russia later this month (Volvo Ocean Race;) it's my intention to collaborate with the WDCS to share their news and keep these gentle giants around for our children's children to appreciate!

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