IWC 66 Day Two

A blast from the past

And a rude awakening

Sidney Holt has saved more whales than anyone. It’s a bland but totally true statement. Were it not for Sidney, the blue whale would probably be gone from the face of the Earth. Extinct. Fin and humpback whales would not be far behind. Hundreds of thousands of deaths, possibly millions.

The IWC was formed in 1946. The assessment rule of thumb of the day was the “blue whale unit” and quotas were set accordingly. A blue whale unit equaled one blue whale, 2 fin whales, two and a half humpback whales and six sei whales. It was all about oil. The more whales killed, the more oil produced. The whalers went on their merry way until profits started going down. Less oil was being produced year by year. Worrisome. The Commission didn’t trust the advice coming from its scientific committee, so it decided to call in an independent group of scientists, who formed “The Committee of Three”. Sidney was one of them, the others being Doug Chapman of the USA and Kay Allen of Australia. Their conclusions in the early 1960s rocked the IWC and put the brakes on commercial whaling. Sidney, who worked for the FAO as a fisheries biologist, did the math that showed how dire the situation was. We and the whales owe a huge debt of gratitude to him. He is now 90 years old and a little frail, but his mind is as sharp as a razor. And he is here, regaling anyone within earshot with tales from the past that bring hoots of laughter and moments of reflection. A few lucky among us have a hot off the press copy of his book: SAVE THE WHALE! Memoirs of a whale hugger. It’s hard to know what the delegates at this meeting make of Sidney’s presence, but he is very visible and I suspect some of them recognize him as the enemy who won. The moratorium on commercial whaling, the Indian Ocean Sanctuary, and the Southern Oceans Sanctuary would almost certainly not exist without Sidney. We are blessed by his presence as we try to turn the page.

Reflections aside, this has been a very difficult day. It began with yet another rejection of SAWS, the proposal to establish a sanctuary for whales in the South Atlantic Ocean. The vote in favour was about 60%, so it didn’t come close to achieving the ¾ majority it needed. Hopes dashed, the proponents led by Brazil and Argentina press on. Brazil has offered to host the next IWC meeting, in 2018, so perhaps the ambience of that land of beaches and beauty will be enough to put Japan’s acolytes under their spell. We can only hope. Hope aside, the spectacle of country after another casting votes according to Japan’s script was enough to turn strong stomachs.

The next blow came when a resolution about trying to save the vaquita from extinction stalled under the stony (read heartless) gaze of Iceland and Norway. Mexico’s tiny dolphin is being drowned in gill nets being set to catch totoaba, a fish in the northern Gulf of California that is being caught for its swim bladder, which fetches big bucks in China and Hong Kong. The totoaba is itself endangered, and the trade is illegal, but none of that matters. A year ago, the vaquita was down to less than 100 individuals; now, with three recent deaths, it is just 59. The situation cries out for urgent action. Mexico is trying. CITES and the IUCN have taken up the vaquita’s cause at their recent meetings, so it seemed a no brainer that the IWC would too. Not so. Instead of passion and action, what we got was mean spirited whining. I tell you, if Iceland and Norway persist in claiming that the IWC has no business dealing with small cetaceans because they weren’t mentioned in the 1946 Convention, I might just throw up more than breakfast. What on Earth are these guys playing at? What do they not understand about the word extinction? Do they not remember the baiji?

Onward, we entered another dark tunnel, aboriginal subsistence whaling. I doubt whether anyone in the room objects to the principle that aboriginal people in the Arctic, who have depended on cetaceans for centuries should be deprived of an important source of food. But what we heard was a claim of rights that amounted to open season, and a report from an “expert panel” that offered a blank cheque as a solution. No need any more for a “needs “ statement. Just fill in the blank with a number, any number, and go right ahead. I may be exaggerating, because the IWC will still have to approve quotas, but that’s what it sounded like. Some words of caution were heard, and we shall see before this week ends how the wind is actually blowing, but it feels a bit in the face at the moment.

By Paul Spong,

Portoroz Slovenia,

October 25, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

IWC 66 Day One

IWC 66 Day One

Once more

Ever since the International Whaling Commission moved to biennial meetings, the drama that was played out every year for decades has diminished in intensity, but it is still there. This year’s meeting is in Portoroz, Slovenia, the same venue as last time. Everyone liked it so much they decided to come back. Besides, there were no other offers. It’s mid October, so the balmy Adriatic isn’t quite so inviting, but it is still a comfortable land of palm trees and pizza. Not quite so is the scene inside the Gran Hotel Bernadin, where the delegates sit in rows listening to the to and fro of debate through earphones that offer translation in 4 languages. There are 46 national delegations here, and everyone is looking at the empty Panama chair and counting votes for and against the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS). A vote by Panama for or against could tip the scales one way or the other. A few abstentions could make it a reality. Tomorrow morning, we will know.

The SAWS was first proposed in 2001 by Brazil and Argentina. Establishing it made eminent sense, as it would join two existing sanctuaries, in the Indian Ocean and Southern Oceans, thus ensuring that the entire southern hemisphere was protected. The proposal went down easily, defeated by Japan and its allies. It has come back again and again in the years since, gradually obtaining more support, and depending on who you are talking to, this time it has a good shot at succeeding. The objections of the opponents have been addressed one by one until all that stands in the way is Japan’s obstinacy. The proposal has been reviewed by the Scientific Committee and the Conservation Committee, a management plan has been created, and every range state that is a member of the IWC is a co-sponsor. In the debate today, Japan’s argument sounded hollow. It was basically a refusal to give up the prospect of killing whales sometime in the future, a dim prospect at best, if not impossible. Still, Japan will not let go of its opposition, and its acolytes won’t either.

SAWS is by no means the only big ticket item in this show.   Japan is once again on the firing line over its refusal to give up killing whales in the Antarctic. Having declared the International Court of Justice irrelevant and its decision against Japan’s Antarctic whaling meaningless, it went its own merry way last year and killed 335 minke whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Many members of the Commission were outraged by this blatant refusal to act as a decent world citizen. At the last IWC meeting in 2014, a resolution was passed telling Japan it has to get approval from the Scientific Committee before resuming Antarctic whaling. It did not, and went ahead anyway. The upshot is a new resolution by Australia and New Zealand, telling Japan that it has to have Commission approval first. That’s a much higher barrier, one that is unlikely to be breached. At first glance, it seems like a winning approach to the problem, but given the tricky turf the IWC sits on, it may not. The biggest problem I have with the resolution is that it will give Japan 3 more years of essentially open season in the Antarctic – 2 years before the Commission meets again, and another to act on any decision it might make at that meeting. Many delegates and observers at this meeting think Japan will just go ahead regardless. An alternate view is that the next Antarctic whaling season will be Japan’s last, because Sea Shepherd’s new vessel will be able to outrun the Japanese fleet. Tomorrow, we will know that results of the resolution, which will give us a clue about the outcome of this meeting.

There is already one very positive development. NGOs are being given a greater voice, not quite being able to participate in debates as they please, but allowed to speak to agenda items after delegates have spoken, and without preapproval. The IWC is not yet where other international bodies like CITES have been for ages, but it is getting closer to meaningful civil society participation.  That is good news for whales, and good news for those of us who have become accustomed to scurrying around in dark shadows.

By Paul Spong,

Portoroz, Slovenia

October 24, 2016

 

 

 

 

OrcaLab assistants 2016 – Tomoko

 

Momoko scope IMG_5918

[Orcalab Japan]

(後半に日本語で書いた同じ内容の記事があります)

This is my 18th summer here at Orcalab.

There are two different reason why I keep coming back here every summer.

One reason is that I just can’t stop my passion to learn more and more about Orcas!

After 18 years I possibly know a little bit about them, but every year I feel like I still don’t know about orcas. They are such an interesting creature!

Another reason why I am here is for Paul and Helena. When I came here for the first time, I just fell in love with Paul and Helena’s vision. I respect them so much and I really wanted to help in spreading their vision.

I grew up with nature.

When I was little, I played in the old shrine in the deep forest every day. I met lots of animals and insects, I was so happy whenever I saw something alive.

However, when I entered the school in a big city, I noticed that “animals” for other people means pets or others in zoos. People pay money to see animals in captivity,

But “animals” for me means wild animals around my hometown. I can see one if the timing is good.

I knew that many people felt like wild animals are living in a totally different world. But they only know about captive ones. I thought that it is sad that people don’t have the chance to know about nature.

Then I came over to Orcalab and met Paul and Helena.

Paul says on the Orcalive website that:

“Years ago, as I stood on the deck of my home at Hanson Island looking at the full moon hanging in the sky above the mountains, spilling a great pool of liquid light across the ocean towards me, I felt so utterly at peace that the thought suddenly came “If only I could share this moment with the world, it would know peace too.”

tomoko_1

When we study orcas at Orcalab, we try not to disturb them. We are land-based, and use a hydrophone network to keep track of the orcas. Sometimes identifying orcas by acoustics is clearer than visuals because each family has their own dialect.

Orcalab doesn’t only study orcas, as Paul’s message on the Orca-Live website says. Paul and Helena share this beautiful view of nature with the world on the internet.

Orca-Live started in 2000, supported by NTT DATA, a company in Japan. The project was planned for 3 years but continued for 5 years. And now, we have Explore cameras. Anyone who has internet access can see wild orcas living in nature, and can enjoy their natural habitat. There are also other creatures like Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Sea lions and lots of birds. And the beautiful views of sky, ocean, forest…the computer can be a window to enjoy and observe nature even for people who are living in the big city. And it’s free!!

http://explore.org/live-cams/player/orcalab-base

tomoko_2

Paul has had a connection with Japan since a long time ago. He visited Japan many times, and was on Japanese TV several times too. In 2006, both Paul and Helena visited Japan and made presentations in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka (big cities). So they have a lot of fans all over Japan!

Since 2006, we haven’t had the chance to invite Paul and Helena to Japan. Almost at the same time, the tours to Orcalab from Japan ended. Media in Japan became fewer, so the ways to convey Orcalab updates to Japanese people became fewer.

If all the people in Japan were energetic enough to learn English, maybe they could follow what is happening here. But if you see Japanese characters down below, you may understand that learning other languages is very hard.

I became concerned about this situation. I am at Orcalab every summer, and also I can speak Japanese. Is there anything I can do to keep sharing Paul and Helena’s idea?

Since last year, another Japanese assistant Momoko Kobayashi and I started a not for profit organization called “Orcalab Japan”.

img_26382

 

We are so lucky that Momoko and I have different skills!!  So we can cover lots of things.

Momoko is very good at finding out what’s going on and managing the Lab, can be ready for things, and can help out in many ways that make Paul and Helena’s life on Hanson Island easier.  She is also a great photographer!

I am good at keeping track of orcas, and am pretty good at writing and teaching.  I love taking photos too!  I’ve published a book (in Japanese…!), enjoy making presentations and getting peoples’ attention, to spread Paul and Helena’s vision to Japanese people.

So Momoko can help the Lab function and make Paul and Helena’s life easier, and I can work spreading their vision for the future. Together, we will build Orcalab Japan. I think, we are very good combination!!

To share and spread Paul and Helena’s vision, I kept doing Japanese daily updates for 10 years. On the blog, I write a summery of the orcas’ movements, about the work in the lab, and about other creatures and special moments. I also put some small sized pictures on it.

Also, I’ve introduced Orca-Live, Explore, and Orcalab 100.

The access counter is nearly 160,000 in 10 years. In the summer, 50 to 200 accesses per day. I know it’s not a big number,  but I can see that people keep reading and keep having interest in Orcalab even in all situations and changes (disasters, politics, economy etc.) in Japan in recent years. I can feel there are still lots of people who admire and respect Paul and Helena, and keep thinking about and supporting them as much as they can.

But we can’t be satisfied.

For the Orcas, for humans, and for nature’s future, we should spread Orcalab’s vision more than this. We are trying, and will find a way. Paul and Helena’s dream is our dream.

tomoko_3

In the end of this blog;

This season, Orcalab Japan has received messages from friends and fans who are thinking about Hanson Island from Japan. I am going to introduce some.

●From: Kayo Kikuchi

I always enjoy the Japanese blog. I love Paul and Helena, I love Orcas and Hanson Island so much! I’ve visited Orcalab in 2005, 2007, 2009 by Maple tour. I am thinking about Orcas and Hanson Island even when I am living very far away from there. Thank you Paul and Helena, thank you Orcalab Japan!  Please take care. If possible I want to bring my kids to Hanson Island someday.

●From :Aki Goto

Thank you for the daily update. It was 2004 when I was at Orcalab last. I want to visit Hanson Island again with my husband. The time on Hanson Island was one of the best days and gives me energy for my life.  Thank you Paul and Helena!!

●From: Maki Ichihara

I want to help Helena’s cooking. I want to be there again!!

●From: Akiko Watanabe

I am enjoying the updates every year! I feel my heart beating whenever I see pictures of Orcas and Hanson Island. I miss Helena’s bread. Kurt’s salmon dish was amazing. I want to be there again…

●From: Hideki Nagao

I was a volunteer at Orcalab 20 years ago. last year I found this website and since then I am reading. I feel nostalgic. I think the boat is still the same as when I was there. I am wondering how their daughter is doing. I will keep supporting.

●From: Nobuko Mori

I’m always happy when listening and watching your world. I want to say thank you to everybody at Orcalab all the time! I would like to feel the atmosphere once again on Hanson Island.

With love.

●From: Mayumi Ouchi

I am enjoying this. I would be happy if there were more photos of Paul and Helena. I want to see them. I want to go there next year!

●Naoko Takahashi

I am enjoying twitter, Orcalab100, Explore cameras, and Orca-Live. I love orcas and Orcalab so much. I went over to Telegraph Cove in 2003, saw Orcalab from the Lukwa. My English ability is poor so I am always watching from Japan, but it is so amazing that I can listen and see orcas on Orca-live. Thank you for sharing this! Paul, Helena, please take care and please continue this study as long as possible. Thank you Tomoko for the Japanese info.

●Kiyo Tanikawa

I got my interest of orcas because of Orcalab.  I hope I can be there someday. Now I am frequently go to Rausu (in Hokkaido) where  I can see wild Japanese orcas and other marine mammals.

Watching and listening to Orcas on Orca-live became a cue to think about orcas, ecology and nature.  Recently I saw Paul’s interview about Corky.  If there was no Orcalab or if I didn’t know about Paul, maybe I wouldn’t have the chance to care about orcas.

There is identification work starting in Rausu. Maybe it is just one small step for them but because there are forerunners like you we can learn and change, and it will be the foot in the door.

I can’t leave a lot of messages often but I am always enjoying and supporting.

Thank you everybody, we will keep trying to give Japanese people a chance to see and learn about wild orcas and their natural habitat.

Someday, Japan and the world would know peace.

Tomoko Mitsuya

September 24th, 2016

the same text in Japanese from here…

【オルカラボジャパン】

今年はわたしにとって18年めの夏です。

こうしてオルカラボに来続けているのには、ふたつの理由があります。

ひとつは「オルカたちのことをもっと知りたい」という欲求を止められないからです!笑

どんなにどんなに勉強しても、どれだけ調査しても何かがおこるたびにまだまだ彼らのことを知らなかったのだなという気持ちにさせられます。オルカというのは本当に面白い動物です。

そしてもうひとつの理由はポールとヘレナです。

最初にこの島を訪れたとき、わたしはポールとヘレナが持つビジョンに惚れ込んでしまったのです。彼らを心から尊敬し、その考えを広める役に立ちたいと思いました。

わたしは自然の中で育ちました。

小さい頃、森の中にある古い神社で毎日のように遊びました。たくさんの昆虫や動物たちに出会いました。生き物を見つけたときは、それがどんなものでも毎回大喜びしました。すぐそこにある自然はとても魅力的なものでした。

しかし都会にある学校に通い始めたとき、他の人との価値観の違いに気づいたのです。

わたしは田舎に生まれ育ったので「動物は山にいて、タイミングがあえば見ることができる」と思っています。

しかし他のクラスメートは「動物は施設にいて、お金を払って触れ合うもの」と思っていました。

都会には自然がないのでそう思うのも仕方ないのですが、自然のことをほとんど知る機会がないまま暮らしている人たちがいるのは悲しいなあと思いました。

そう思っていたときにポールとヘレナに出会ったのです。

「もう何年も前のこと、私は、ハンソン島にある我が家のデッキに立って、山の上にかかる満月を見ていました。透明な月の光に溢れた海が、私の前に拡がっていました。私の心は、平和な静けさに満たされていました。そのとき、突然ある考えが降りてきたのです。『もし、この瞬間を世界と共有できさえすれば、世界全体がこんな平和な気持ちになれるかもしれない』」

オルカライブに書いてあるポールの言葉です。

オルカたちの調査をするにあたって、ポールとヘレナは彼らの生きる邪魔をしません。

水中マイクを使ってオルカたちの方言を聞き分けることで、陸からオルカたちの調査をします。目視よりもはっきりとオルカたちの位置がわかることがあります。

さらにポールとヘレナはインターネットを使って、都会に住む人々も自然を身近に感じることができるよう、この美しい自然の光景を世界中の人たちとシェアし続けています。

2000年から日本のNTTデータさんの協力により「ネイチャーネットワーク・オルカライブ」という大きなプロジェクトを5年間にわたって実現。現在ではexploreのライブカメラでオルカラボからの映像を世界中に配信しており、インターネット環境があればどなたでも野生のオルカたちが生きる姿や、ハンソン島やジョンストン海峡の自然をリアルタイムで、無料で楽しむことができます。

ポールは古くから日本とのつながりがあり、度々日本を訪れました。日本のテレビにも数多く出演しました。2006年にはポールとヘレナふたりともが来日し各地で講演しました。しかしそれからは10年間来日していません。同じタイミングで日本からオルカラボを訪れるツアーも終了し、日本からのテレビの取材も少なくなり、日本の人たちにオルカラボのことを伝える手段が限られるようになりました。

もちろん、本当に強い興味があれば英語を学び、オルカラボの活動を英語で追うことができるでしょう。しかし外国語を学ぶというのは思っている以上にハードなものです。

オルカラボで毎年夏を過ごし、さらに日本語も扱うことができるわたしは「日本の人たちがオルカラボのことを忘れないようにするために、自分に何ができるだろうか」日々考えるようになりました。

昨年から、わたしともうひとりの日本人アシスタントである小林桃子は「オルカラボ・ジャパン」という非営利団体を運営することになりました。わたしたちはとてもラッキーでした。なぜならわたしたちふたりは全く別のスキルを持っていたからです。

桃ちゃんはポールとヘレナの身の回りのアシストがとても得意で、細かなことに気がついて先回りして準備し、彼らの調査生活をとてもスムーズにできます。

一方のわたしはオルカたちの動きを音で判断しデータを記録しつづけることや、日本語で書くこと、プレゼンを作成し人前で話すことなどもわりと得意です。

オルカラボでの生活を記した本も出版したことがあります。

桃ちゃんはハンソン島でのポールとヘレナの暮らしをスムーズにし、わたしはポールとヘレナのビジョンを自分に可能な限り広げることで、オルカたちや自然の未来を守りたい。

現在と未来、こういった役割分担で現在のオルカラボジャパンは成り立っています。

こういった考えで、わたしは夏の間の日本語デイリーアップデートを10年間続けてきました。

ブログではかんたんなオルカたちの動きについて、オルカラボでの仕事について、出会った他の生き物や美しい風景の写真などを掲載しています。

オルカライブやexplore、オルカラボ100についてもことあるごとに紹介しています。

http://a55lovestomoko.blog60.fc2.com

10年間のアクセス数はおよそ16万、夏は1日50~200アクセス、びっくりするような数字ではないかもしれませんが、日本の状況がここ数年で大きく変化しても確実に読んでくださっている人がいて、現在もオルカラボに興味を持ち続け、ポールとヘレナに憧れ、彼らを尊敬し、サポートし続けてくださっている人たちがいます。

現在でも、日本にはポールとヘレナのファンがとても多くいます!!

しかしここで満足はしていられません。

オルカたち、そしてわたしたち人間と自然の未来のために、工夫次第で彼らのビジョンをもっと広げることも可能なのではないかと思っています。

今年はオルカラボドキュメンタリーを撮影しており、日本語バージョンのDVDを発売予定です。

これからもいろいろ試行錯誤しながらオルカラボジャパンとして頑張っていきたいと思います。

最後に、今年の夏もオルカラボジャパンを通じて日本の友人やファンからオルカラボやハンソン島、ポールとヘレナへの思いが届いていますので、いくつか紹介します。

●Kayoさん

ともこさん、いつもブログ楽しませてもらっています。

ポールとヘレナ、オルカ、ハンソン島が大好きです(^-^)

2005、2007、2009年と3回、メープルで行かせてもらいました。

遠く離れたところからハンソン島やオルカを思い、自然のことを考えるきっかけをもらっています。

お二人に感謝します。

ともこさん、ももこさん、お体に気を付けてがんばってください!

いつかまた息子たちとハンソン島に行きたいです!

●Aki Gotoさん

ともちゃん いつもオルカラボのレポート大変感謝して読んでいます。一番最後に行ったのは確か2004年あれから12年経ちました。もしも、可能であれば、今度はうちの夫を一度ハンソン島に連れて行きたいと思っています。人生振り返ってもハンソン島の日々は最高に輝いていて、そして、今も人生のエネルギーの源になっている時間です。ポール、ヘレナ、アナ本当にありがとう!

●Makiさん

行きたい。行きたい。ミソサザイ可愛い。

●Akiko Watanabeさん

毎年楽しみにしてました!大好きなオルカやハンソン島の写真を見ると、キュンとなります。ヘレナのパン、美味しかったなぁ。カートさんのサーモンも美味しかった…また行ってみたい…

●Hideki Nagaoさん

大学生の時にアシスタントとして参加させて頂いてから20年近くなりますが、去年このサイトを見つけて、見させて頂いています。

すごく懐かしいです。ボートもあの頃と代わってないじゃないかなぁ。娘さんはどうされてるんですかねぇ。これからも応援していきたいと思います。

●Nobuko Moriさん

I’m always happy when listening and watching your world.

I want to say thank you to everybody in Orcalab anytime!

I would like to feel atmosphere once again on Hanson island.

With love.

●Mayumi Ouchiさん

いつも楽しみに見ています!ポールたちの姿も時々観れると嬉しいな。

来年は行く!行きたい!とお伝えください。

●Naoko Takahashiさん

Twitter、FBのOrcaLab100、exploreとOrcaLiveをいつも拝見しています。

私はオルカラボとジョンストン海峡に憧れて、2013年にテレグラフコーヴに行き、Lukwaからオルカラボを眺めることが出来ました。でも英語が全然習得出来ずにいつもこうして見て居るだけですが、日本にいるのにライブで見られる、聴けるのはすごいことですよね。

いつも発信してくださりありがとうございます!

ポール博士とヘレナさん身体に気をつけてずーーっと続けて欲しいです。

ともこさん、これからも紹介をお願いします^^

●Kiyoさん

オルカラボがきっかけで、オルカに興味をもち水族館通いから今は、羅臼通い(オルカや他の鯨類に出会えます)をしています。ラボへは行けなくてもいつかはカナダで野生のオルカ達に会いたいと思っています。漠然と聞いているコールや風景をみながら、オルカを中心に自然や生態のことを考えるきっかけとなっています。先日もポール博士の Corky のインタビューを見ました。オルカラボがなければ、ポール博士のことを知らなければ気になることもなかったと思います。 羅臼も個体識別を初めているそうです。先達がいることによって、小さな1歩でしょうが、色々と変わっていくきっかけや布石となるのでは、などと思っています。 なかなかコメントを残せませんが、応援しつつ楽しませて頂いています。

皆さん、ありがとうございます!

ひとりでも多くの日本の皆さまに野生のオルカたちの生態を伝え、感動を共有しつづけることができるように頑張ります。

そしていつか日本を含めた世界全体が平和な気持ちに包まれますように。

三屋智子

September 24th, 2016

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