Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Canada's History with the Oceans

When I travel internationally, I often wear a Canadian flag lapel pin because Canadians are liked and respected in many countries.  With apologies to my American friends, I recall many occasions when people warm up when they find out I am Canadian, not American.    

When I travel to Taiji, should I identify myself as a Canadian?  Will it carry any weight?   If I take a photograph the Japanese find embarrassing and they unjustly arrest me, will my government come to my rescue? I doubt it.   Canada’s record regarding the oceans is shameful.    

In 1993 when Paul Watson chased foreign trawlers off the Grand Banks he was arrested by the RCMP and the Sea Shepherd vessel, the Cleveland Amory, was seized.  Captain Watson was acquitted in 1995, but by that time, the cod fishery had collapsed.    

In April 2008, an armed boarding party seized the Farley Mowat in international waters and arrested the crew members for witnessing and photographing the killing of a seal.   Peter Hammarstedt from Sweden and Alex Cornelissen from the Netherlands were not allowed to appear at their own trial.  Are you kidding me?   I thought Canada was a democracy!   

Peter and Alex were each fined $45,000 under the “Seal Protection Act”.   This is the sort of kangaroo court that one would expect to find in a country run by a right wing egotistical leader who has no respect for human rights or the environment.    

Should I run into any difficulties in Taiji, the impact will be minor in comparison to the regret I would feel if I did nothing.   

Should I wear a Canadian flag on my lapel in Taiji?   Yes, I probably will, because I can expect support from many Canadians. I will not break any laws in Japan. They do not have draconian laws that make it illegal to photograph the killing of a dolphin, but should I be detained, I have no illusions that I will receive support from the Canadian government.  

For the Oceans,


Friday, November 19, 2010

Getting Older and Wiser

Life is not a popularity contest.  My focus is on the oceans; not on anyone’s approval.   I am sure the whales and dolphins will approve of my actions.   One good thing about getting older is that the negative opinions others might hold about me or my views really don’t matter.

I started this blog because of my trip to Taiji, but I now realize I am meant to write and share my experiences and observations about all things related to the oceans. 

Some people reading this blog might think I have no business telling people in another country what they should or should not do; that we should respect other cultures.  Many crimes have been committed all over the world in the name of culture, but what might have been the norm at one time is no longer considered acceptable.  Catalonia has banned bullfighting and England has banned fox hunting.

When I tell people about my trip to Taiji, many are not sure what to say.  Some say they hope I have a nice vacation but then they blush because they know it isn’t a vacation, but are at a loss for words. Others have corrected themselves and said “Have a good… protest?” but realized that was not exactly correct either.

If you are wondering what to say, just wish me well in my attempt to save the lives of the dolphins by drawing attention to the issue.   No wild animals are being exterminated anywhere in the world the way the dolphins are in Japan. 

The dolphins do not belong to Japan.   They are citizens of the oceans.  

For the Oceans,


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Going to Taiji

There are times in life when a person needs to stand up for their beliefs and take action. The decision has been made. I am going to Taiji.

I have been involved in animal welfare for many years, but I have never used the “A” word to describe myself.  That has changed so I should just say it. I am an activist.

It is a misconception to think that activists are a bunch of rebels who do not work for a living and have strange coloured hair, body piercings, and tattoos.

Yes, I am a bit of a rebel, but I have a good education, run my business, pay my taxes, and the only hair colour I use is to cover that annoying gray. I am just a normal person who has decided to take a stance against the crimes committed against the oceans and the creatures therein.   

Time is running out for the oceans.   There is only 10% of the life in the oceans that there was 50 years ago and the majority of the damage has been inflicted during the past 20 years.  Purse seiners, long liners, trawlers, factory ships, and long distance fleets have pillaged the seas.

Decades of pollution have resulted in high mercury levels in fish, especially the large predators such as whales, dolphins, sharks, marlin, and bluefin tuna.      Carbon emissions from fossil fuels have raised ocean acidity levels and there are many areas of our oceans that have no oxygen and are devoid of life of any kind, including seabirds.   

I am horrified by the slaughter of whales and dolphins in Taiji, Japan.   I hope that by bearing witness to this horror and by telling the story, I can draw attention to this issue. 

It is people who force governments to act and I believe that international pressure on Japan will make them stop this senseless killing of intelligent, sentient creatures.  

There are risks associated with my trip to Taiji, but they pale in comparison to what is happening to the whales and dolphins.   While swimming freely in the oceans they have the misfortune of migrating past the notorious killing cove.   Hours later the water turns red. Their insides are ripped out and are taken away on a gutting barge. 

Former dolphin killing communities have transformed into eco tourist destinations. Change can happen and it is my goal to ensure it does.  

For the Oceans,