Posts Tagged ‘antartic waters’

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

As reported on BBC NEWS

New Zealand and Australia are joining forces to carry out research on whales using non-lethal methods, in an attempt to challenge Japan’s hunting programme.

Eighteen scientists will set sail for Antarctica next month to study minke, humpback and blue whale populations.

They will also be assessing the impact of climate change on the whales.

The scientists hope their research will help to disprove Japan’s claims that whales have to be killed if they are to be properly studied.

The six-week voyage will start in Wellington in early February.

Non-lethal

Researchers will employ a range of non-lethal techniques to try to unlock some of the secrets of these giant marine mammals.

They will use air rifles fitted with darts to collect blubber and skin for DNA testing, as well attaching satellite tags to monitor the whales.

Samples of dung will also be gathered and many photographs will be taken, while acoustic instruments will record the animals’ distinctive calls.

Nick Gales from the Australian Antarctic Division, who is leading the expedition, believes it will show that Japan’s arguments for whale hunting are misguided.

“Anyone can always come up with a project that you have to kill an animal to measure something,” he said.

“But the important question is whether or not you need that information – and our view very strongly is that all of that type of information that is relevant to the conservation and management of whales can be gathered using new and very powerful non-lethal tools.”

Japan says there are genuine scientific reasons why it kills hundreds of whales each year in Antarctic waters, where its fleet is currently operating.

Critics, including the Australian and New Zealand governments, insist that such arguments are simply a cover for the sale and consumption of whale meat, which is banned under an international moratorium on commercial hunting.

Reported via BBC News – NZ, Australia research whales to challenge Japan.

A New Zealand public relations guru is said to have paid for Japanese spy planes which have been keeping an eye on anti-whaling protesters in the Southern Ocean.

Reports say Glenn Inwood’s Omeka Public Relations company, which works for Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, chartered planes in Hobart and Albany to track the Sea Shepherd’s ship, the Steve Irwin, in December.

Sea Shepherd founder and Steve Irwin captain Paul Watson claims Mr Inwood put the “spy flights” on his credit card.

“The Japanese are spending an incredible amount of money this year. They’ve dedicated two vessels just to tail us and the latest flights out of Melbourne and Hobart cost them about $20,000,” he told the ABC.

“These surveillance flights are aiding an illegal operation and they should be stopped,” Mr Watson said.

“Japanese whaling is illegal – it’s a poaching operation.

“The Australian Government recognises it as illegal. They are taking whales in the Australian-Antarctic territory and they are in contempt of an Australian Federal Court order.”

The ABC attempted to contact Mr Inwood without success.

Read the full report here via PR guru ‘paid for whalers’ spy flights’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).