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18 January 2008

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ked

Of course it is research. And the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was voluntary cultural exchange society.

mike

My Virginian-born father's side of my brain cheers on the CSS Shenandoah. But my mother's side of the family born and raised in Maine and points north says that the Shenandoah was on a fool's errand as the whaling industry was already dying and contributed almost zilch to the Northern war effort.

mike

PS - Forget Ahab and the White Whale. The best book ever on whaling and sealing in the 19th century was J. Fenimore Cooper's "The Sea Lions" aka "The Lost Sealers".

jonst

I strongly second the notion of harpooning a few of them. Pl, did the (some, anyway)Europeans turn out to watch a (some?)naval battles between Union and Confederate ships?

wsam

"Perhaps it is the same sort of "research" that Canadian "researchers" perform on baby fur seals every year."

That's a hateful and anti-Canadian statement. The seals are our enemies.

W. Patrick Lang

jonst

I suppose you know that the French stood on the quai at Cherbourg and the English watched from ships as CSS Alabama and USS Kearsarge fought it out. Kearsarge's rudder post is in the US Navy museum in Washington. There is one of Alabama's shells imbedded in it (unexploded). pl

Nicholas Weaver

Its very important research.

They are researching different ways to prepare whale meat in the tastiest possible manner.


(Technically, the "research" is supposed to be on what they eat, population #s, etc, but as they never publish in a peer reivewed context, just reports on their own little web pages, that hardly counts. And the loophole is "Killed for research animals shouldn't be wasted". A simple way to close teh loophole is "Killed for research animals must be destroyed and not eaten")

Charles I

Pat, as a Canuk, I must call you on a cheap shot at Canadian fisherfolk.

I have no brief with the sealers. I would prefer anybody who doesn't kill it, skin it, tan it and craft it, not to wear fur, although unlike oil based synthetic fabrics, it is a renewable reasource.

In any event, the sealers don't push my buttons the way whalers, helicopter missile strikes and SUV's do.

I have never heard any sealer, or any federal or provincial government official claim that the sealers are "conducting research." Should you can direct me to such a claim, I may stand corrected, but the sealers generally, and governments officially, make no bones about it.

Sealers are pursuing their livelihood. Sometimes the claim is made that a seal cull will help preserve fish stocks. Yes, we, and many many foreign factory trawlers have buggered up the fishery, but while the fish stocks and whale populations - a resource humanity holds in trust for the planet - are decimated by man, there is rarely a shortage of seals over which we are granted similar domain.

To suggest that Newfoundland sealing is in the same moral category, or carried out under a similar dissembling rationale patently absurd on the face of it, as Japanese industrial whaling, is quite a stretch. I look on a few canoes full of First Peoples out to commune with and harpoon a ceremonial whale or two - though they usually are in motorboats and armed with rifles - off our west coast with a a similar disdain, but disdain tempered by the more tenable claim of traditional direct relationship between Native in canoe and whale in sea that factory whaling cannot sustain. Lots of times, they paddle home without a trophy, but with a renewed sense of their ancestors traditional ways - ways which have given way to new ways making it obvious that anything beyond a token ceremonial whale hunt is no longer the way of the people.

You write : "Whaling once served some useful purpose. Whale oil lit the lamps of the world. I haven't seen any whale oil lamps lately. Maybe someone should harpoon a few of these ships."

I suggest you, Paul McCartney and his erstwhile Mrs. attend, intefere with, videotape and publicize the entire life cycle of your next meal of meat, from conception to the kill floor and thence to your plate. For no good reason I doubt you're a rabid vegan.

Given what we know about the utter inefficiency of industrial beef, resource depletion and obesity, surely the entire drive through hamburger industry is not "serving some useful purpose. Rather, it is a horribly energy intense process from conception to the drive through window. destroying the land whilst fattening the population (I included from time to time, tho I NEVER use a drive thu.) Perhaps I should let a few beef farmers and McJobbie types have it with the bolt gun used to humanely "process" beef.

Kindly notice that the ample seal population, arising entirely spontaneously from its corner of Creation, is not entirely the artificial product of a vast expenditure of land, fuel, fertilizers, antibiotics and irrigation, and is mainly harvested by men wielding clubs rather than commanding an industrialized whaling process utilizing mechanically fired explosive harpoons.

The sealers meet their livelihood face to face on the bloody floes, in a non-mechanized harvest of a renewable, non-threatened, admittedly mostly luxury product. I know first hand Newfies are generally mad for seal flipper pie, though I know nowhere near all the seal carcases are completely rendered.

Perhaps telegenic reports on slaughtered seals breathlessly narrated by some rich boob who just dropped four tons of carbon flying in for the video engender sympathies similar to I feel while watching news of the latest Israeli assassination, or house demolition in the Occupied Territories. I know I'd harpoon a few of those killers if they came a-helicoptering after me and mine.

I'd like to whip people who abuse their pets. I'd like cars that turn without first signaling to be vaporized by lasers. I wouldn't look askance at Greenpeace if, perhaps with the help of some veteran ship bombers from Le Piscine, sank a few Japenese whalers.

Sealers on the ice just don't meet that threshold of completely unjustifiable gratuitous and cruel rapine for me. On the other hand, even if the Japanese hunt of endangered mammals was conducted from canoes with simple harpoons, I'd still be opposed to anything more than a couple of old guys mumbling bloody benedictions over one ceremonial kill.

To me, the sealers are somewhere between those extremes, until such time as the seals become an endangered species or the sealers commence sealing with dynamite or helicopter gunships.

jonst

Yes, you are correct I did know about it. At first I could not recall where I had read about but then I went back to Foote's 3rd volume. Thank you.

William R. Cumming

Interesting post. A recent diplomatic history published in 2005 or 06 by a University of Washington Professor fully conversant in Japanese language and culture reviews the last 150 years of Japanese diplomatic history and concludes that a half-century post WWII passivity in Japanese diplomacy and international involvement is about to end. Maybe it starts with the whales. There is that protein problem. Basically, the Prof concludes that twice in recent history, the black ships arrival by Perry in 1856 leading to the Mejii restoration and the defeat in WWII both involving the US specifically created a fundamental inferiority complex in the Japanese self-perception since in essence their culture, even when patterned on the West proved defective in many ways. Now the long slumber appears to be coming to an end. I suspect that the real story behind the N.Korean willingness to negotiate on nuclear arms is the pressure being brought to bear by the Chinese. My guess that pressure is generated in part by a fully nuclear Japan existing within 3 years or less from a standing start if N.Korea were to go fully nuclear capable. The last thing China wants is to somehow justify through its mishandling of N.Korea a fully nuclear capable Japan.
Now if those pesky whales would just learn to recognize Japanese Whaling ships and learn to sidle up only to Greenpeace ships there would be no problem. Also pretty clear that Japan should sit on the UN Security Council as a permanent member.

Michael Torpey

The Japanese are behaving like pirates. I am surprised that people as smart as the Japanese do not eat an ethical source of protein and not harvest whales because they taste good.

Babak Makkinejad

Charles I:

You wrote: "I'd like to whip people who abuse their pets. I'd like cars that turn without first signaling to be vaporized by lasers. I wouldn't look askance at Greenpeace if, perhaps with the help of some veteran ship bombers from Le Piscine, sank a few Japenese whalers"

Man you'd better calm down and take a deep breath.

Might like to try lamb - it has aphrodisiac properties [according to the East Asian working girls in the Persian Gulf commenting on the libido of Middle Eastern men].

blowback

A few years ago, I heard that the Japanese were dumping VCRs in France which was still manufacturing VCRs locally. The French tried reasoning with the Japanese but to no avail so they resorted to a typical French negotiating ploy as tariff increases were regarded as unacceptable. All VCRs would only be examined by customs at the port of Reims (who knew Reims was a port?) and the customs office in Reims was only open for a few hours each week and was staffed by the most bureaucratic customs officials in all of France. As a result, only a handful of Japanese VCRs cleared customs each week. The Japanese soon got the message and stopped dumping.

The non-whaling countries should adopt a policy that ALL items imported from a whaling country must be individually examined to confirm that they do not contain any whale products. Just how long would the Japanese continue with whaling when they do not consume the whale meat they already take each year?

BTW, perhaps Bush should be reminded of the "Alabama Claims".

eaken

perhaps greenpeace needs to patrol the persian gulf

Bobo

Outside of the annual Japanese whale kill the Whales are actually winning. The Whale Lovers have our US Navy on the run, by making them reduce the use of Sonar in a number of areas off our coasts.

The Northern Right Whale is on the endangered list. Fifteen years ago the Whale Lovers were yelling that only 300 are left. Today they are still yelling only 300 left. But they forget that over 20-30 are born each year off the SE US coast, the death rate from old age is only 3-5 per year while the kill rate from ship hits and fishing gear entanglements is also 3-5 per year. So today there have to be at least 550 plus. These Right Whale lovers have our government enacting laws that makes commercial shipping slow down 25 miles off the coast and only approach ports in narrow shipping lanes after they have notified the USCG they are entering the WHALE ZONE.

As to the Seal killers I cannot remember the last time I ever saw someone in a Seal Fur coat. Frankly I rarely see anyone in a fur coat nowadays.

While being a quasi Tree Hugger I still feel the loss of a few whales or seals every year is not a big deal.

Please don't tell the Whale Lovers as if they knew I may be hung by sunset.

Alvord

Not only are the Japanese abusing the loophole that allows whaling for scientific purposes, they are also bribing small island nations to join the International Whaling Commission for the purpose of overthrowing the ban on commercial whaling. To make matters worse, there is no real demand for whale products in the Japanese diet. There have been reports that whale products from the annual hunts have ended up in pet food. The Japanese position on whaling is driven by the political power of whalers and by a resentment of outside influences (i.e. most of the rest of the world) which is trying to stop Japanese whaling.

China Hand

First, i'd rather not see the whale hunt taking place. I think it's disgusting. However, the Japanese are quick to point out that:

A) They undertake their culls in a sustainable way, and

B) It was the U.S. and European whaling fleets that hunted the animal down to near extinction, and

C) "The Japanese" have been hunting and eating whales for as long as the Eskimos have been, and maybe even longer.

Now, if one is inclined to view animals as just one more source of food then those are pretty good arguments. I'd add, as well, that the U.S. military is now re-starting its use of active sonar (which kills whales), all fish and shrimp around the globe are rapidly disappearing (and not just because of the Japanese), and bear-hunting with bows and dogs has become, in some U.S. circles, something of a fad.

I think it would be best if that whaling fleet were stopped and i applaud Greenpeace. When i make charity donations they are always high on my list. Even so, i think it's unfair to be singling out the Japanese for crticism. As Charles I points out, the industrialized slaughter houses that feed McDonald's and KFC are just as bad except much, much larger, and the ranches on which these animals are raised are incredibly wasteful and leave no room for other forms of wildlife to flourish.

Anyone seen a Puma lately?

jon

One side of my family used to be whalers. I'm told that they decided to go whaling for the duration of the late unpleasantness between the North and the South, in large part because they had some good friends in the South that they didn't see the purpose of killing.

After the war, some of them settled in the South and opened a boatyard. The salt stays with you.

As you note, Col., there is no currently compelling reason to hunt and massacre whales any longer. I hear that the Japanese aren't especially fond of whale meat, and that much of it has to go into school lunch programs.

The world exists for much more than to simply satisfy the whims of humans.

It is particularly appalling that the hunt will include endangered and threatened species. I also have questions about the killing of generally peaceful mammals who have brain sizes equal or exceeding our own, with similar lifespans and familial structures.

We continue to kill (and torture) sufficient numbers of whales through profligate use of strong, pervasive sonar. That should generate enough bodies to satisfy any remaining research needs.

I was taken with your response to the Vitter case, and this seems to be of a piece with it. There is a great difference between stewardship and dominion. It would be nice to see ourselves living up to our potential.

jon

To belabor the point further:
Even Iceland has suspended whaling, and with any luck will make it permanent.

I can respect native peoples that continue to take seals and whales for food and other necessary resources. Particularly when they use equipment that makes the contest a bit more even.

Hunting which only takes fittest for trophies and squanders the rest of the carcass is an abominable waste.

There is a difference between raising animals for the table, and in taking wild populations to brink of extinction.

More developed cultures have a responsibility to alter their destructive behaviors and set better examples for the rest of the world, and intelligent people in developing culture need not insist on replicating the worst and most destructive tendencies and behavior of other cultures.

The Japanese, by and large, eat a diet with far less red meat, than westernized cultures, and receive more of their protein from vegetable sources. It is, overall, a more sustainable diet, and healthier. As they become more affluent and westernized, that is changing.

Other fisheries stocks worldwide have been overfished to the point of collapse. Quite a problem when you consider increasing populations and the dependence of fast growing nations on fish.

Nancy Kimberlin

I find whale hunting deplorable just as I do the killing of baby seals. I also find deplorable the state of the meat industry in the US, the miles and miles of animals standing in their own feces at stock yards and the torture like conditions of slaughter houses.
I am not against animal consumption just the inhumane conditions under which meat is obtained.
I lived in Spain briefly and saw the sheep and goat herds which live in the hills and are also slaughtered in the same area. For the animal death was the final result however their quality of life up to that point was beyond calculating.

Cieran

Killing whales is not like killing cattle, beyond the obvious connection of gaining some dietary protein -- and if that were the real goal here, why not just follow Jonathan Swift's modest proposal regarding the Irish?

Whales are among the most intelligent animals ever to live on this planet, and that should make all the difference in how we regard their slaughter. Killing them off is more akin to genocide than to animal husbandry. And the moral implications arising from our dubious sense of exceptionalism follow directly from that simple realization.

The point is well made in classic literature, e.g., Moby Dick, or Star Trek IV...

JohnS

So what to do about overfishing the critically endangered bluefin tuna, thanks to the now-worldwide craze for sushi?

(Note: the BBC claims that the Japanese consume 80% of the world's blue-fin tuna, while the WaPo says they consume about 25% of it. )

TimeShadow

Back when I was in the 10th Special Forces Group, we used to go to Dombas, Norway for some very tough winter training.

The Norwegian Army mess-hall there served some form of whale meat every day, and it was quite tasty. (Of course, we were so hungry that even the pickled fish-heads seemed tasty.)

Anyway, after talking to the locals about it, I was told that the Norwegian whaling fleet was authorized to harvest a certain number of whales every year. Most Norwegian civilians are opposed to whaling and refused to buy the stuff, so the Norwegian government just fed it to the Army.

That's a time honored way of getting rid of chow that nobody else wants!

W. Patrick Lang

TS

I had whale steak a couple of times when I was a kid. It tasted a lot like beef but had not been bled out as much. The muscle that it came from was so big that the meat was very uniform in texture without any connective tissue, etc. pl

mike

Whale sushi isn't bad. I tried it on a bet one evening in Numazu, Japan after too much Suntory back in 1960 long before the moratorium. As I recall it was not the best or worst thing on the menu. The octopus and eel were great but my recommendation is that you don't try sea urchin.

I believe salmon and steelhead are much more threatened than Minke whales. And all three are in more danger from urban/suburban sewage, and farm fertilizer runoff than they are from gill nets, hook&line, and harpoons.

mike

John Moore

It's actually worse. Scientists have covertly tested the whale meat in markets and stores and they find a multitude of species, some that are not to be hunted. If there's any silver lining, I suppose that at least the Japanese are eating the whales they kill instead of boiling their blubber down for oil.

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