Ahaarrr Jim Lad, whalers on the port bow!

I note with interest that Sea Shepherd have found and engaged the Japanese whaling fleet in the southern ocean and are actively harrying the ships. Which kinda got me thinking.

It's not really like me to side with the zealots, but in this one, I think I'm on their side. Let me expand upon this.

Up until recently I'd seen Sea Shepherd as almost the naval wing of PETA, who are themselves a sort of nutty animal rights cult with some serious issues. Sea Shepherd are operating outside legal means and are subject to penalties including being treated as pirates. Yes, Pirates, real ones. However if there's one thing that really gets my goat (and flays it), it's bare faced lying.

Japan, just fucking admit it. You're not really killing 930 Minke Whales for research, are you? Unless by 'research' you mean 'researching how tasty they are'.

And that bare faced chutzpah, claiming that the whaling is for research, is what pisses me off, and drives me into Sea Shepherd's camp, even if they're a bit mental and radical. I, of course, have questions on what research is being produced by this program, so I've had a bit of a look through the Institute For Cetacean Research's website. The research is to, and I quote:

Identify whale stocks, estimate abundance and population structure, reproductive data and general health data; Study the role and effect of whales in and on the ecosystem, including their feeding habits; and Monitor the effects of environmental change on whales.

Well, I can help you out with the general health data bit: They're dead, you morons. But seriously, much, in fact the clear majority, of this could be done with non-intrusive research. Stocks can be studied quite well with tagging and non-lethal surveys, and you'd think by now they'd have a fair idea of Minke's feeding habits, since they've been 'researching' several hundred whales per year for quite a few years now. The ICR does do token non-lethal data collection, but still kills hundreds of Minkes per year, claiming it's necessary to determine dietary habits and age, and claims it needs high numbers to get decent statistics, ignoring the fact that these statistics are horribly skewed by the selection methods used. How many small juveniles do you think they catch? The science angle here is tenuous at best, and quite unsupported among the general scientific community.

The worst bit? I'd probably be more supportive of Japan's position if they'd just come out and admit it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the bistro to research myself a sandwich.

p.s. Bluetongue are sponsoring Sea Shepherd, so I'll be drinking a little of that this weekend, purely to show my support of course.

posted @ Friday, February 9, 2007 12:06 PM

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