Meet Me in Morocco

Me and My Hero

Meet Me in Morocco

 

By Joey Racano, 

Special to Harlots Sauce

 

‘Ye shall smell land, though none such is neigh

and ‘neath the laughter of gulls,

a white whale shall surface

spouting crimson into a wasted sea

And with his great flukes shall ye be made

to swim among the splinters’

-joey racano

 

 

Just in time for summer, representatives from 88 nations will gather in Agadir, Morocco, for the 62nd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission on June 21st. Besides the release of Avatar, the high ratings of Animal Planet’s ‘Whale Wars’, and national newspaper headlines showing a giant Louisiana oil platform burning, sinking and spilling –on Earth day– there are other telltale signs why this may be the most contentious IWC meeting ever.

Since 1986, when Ronald Reagan strong-armed an international whaling moratorium through, whaling has been outlawed commercially, allowing dwindling world stocks to slowly stabilize. But throughout, scofflaw nations like Norway and Iceland have ignored the ban, while Japan has exploited a ‘research’ loophole to continue killing whales. Nothing was ever learned through such research, but it spawned a hit show on Animal Planet, documenting the anti-whaling travels of Paul Watson and his ‘Sea Shepherd’ crew. Tellingly, it has become their most successful program.

Another thing the whaling has spawned is an unprecedented global movement to put a harpoon in whaling –any whaling- once and for all. Many Facebook groups now rapid-fire anti-whaling petitions back and forth, then on to the desks of legislators. Numerous are the anti-whaling advertisements purchased by conservation groups, such as a full page ad in the New York Times by International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.IFAW.org), urging President Obama to honor a 2008 campaign pledge in which he labeled whaling, “unacceptable”.  And as the June meeting of the IWC draws nearer, the global voice seems to be rising in a cacophony of concern, not only for the whales, but for oceans under assault from every conceivable direction.

While activists clamor for the National Marine Fisheries Service to release results of a study they say shows whales to be declining in number, NMFS apparently wants to wait until after the IWC meeting to do so. Another study shows the oceans chemistry to be changing rapidly, while still others show that Humpback Whales have switched to eating krill, a tiny sea-going form of shrimp, because they can no longer find enough fish to eat. The stomach of an emaciated Gray Whale who beached itself and died recently in West Seattle was found to contain rags, junk and some 20 plastic bags- everything but food.

While proponents of a controversial plan to resume whaling say it would reduce the amount of whales actually being killed currently, critics say legalizing whaling for the benefit of outlaw whaling nations is like making bank robbery legal for the benefit of bank robbers. They also point to the plans ‘10 year, no opportunity for review’ component. One of the most outspoken critics of the plan to resume legalized commercial whaling is Sara Wan, head of the Wan Conservancy (www.wanconservancy.org), the California Gray Whale Coalition (www.californiagraywhalecoalition.org) and a member of the powerful California Coastal Commission. I had an opportunity to ask Sara a few questions for Harlot Sauce:

HS: Why do you think President Obama is having difficulty keeping his 2008 pledge to keep the moratorium against whaling in place? Are there ‘political realities’?

Sara Wan: “It is hard to say and there may be several factors including the pressure from Japan and a desire to work with them for financial reasons”.


HS: If the moratorium is lifted for the benefit of three nations, what happens if other countries decide they too want to begin whaling? Could the IWC legally stop them?

Sara Wan: “That is one of the problems.  If the ban is lifted it cannot simply be applied to them although they seem to be the only ones interested in doing whaling because it is not economically viable.  The Japanese government has to subsidize the whaling”.


HS: What is the most effective way for the average citizen to take action if they don’t want the moratorium lifted?

Sara Wan: “There are numerous sites where they can sign a petition to send to the white house including the Western Alliance for Nature, IFAW, Greenpeace, etc. They can call the White House at 202-456-1111 and they can attend a May 23rd demonstration against this”.


HS: Do you envision a day when there may be a moratorium not only on hunting, but on whale captivity as well? 

Sara Wan: “I would hope so but I don’t see that in the works.  There is too much money involved in keeping whales in captivity”.

 

President Obama and the United States are leading the IWC movement to resume legalized whaling, calling it a ‘Peace Plan’. However, the Japanese say it doesn’t let them kill enough whales, the global environmental movement is raising its considerable voice, and the party doesn’t start until June. Perhaps they should call it a ‘War Plan’ instead.

Joey Racano

 Editors note: I wrote this one for the web mag of an old high school friend who found me on the internet recently. Thought it belonged here on ESM too.

-JR

 joey racano

our founder

Tags: whaling, morocco, moratorium, japan, international federation for animal welfare, sara wan, california coastal commission, joey racano, harpoon, noaa, whale hunting, iwc, international whaling commission, paul watson, sea shepherd society, sea shepherd, ocean, sea, marine biology, california gray whale coalition, humpback, moby dick, obama

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