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Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.
The World is a Vampire...
Set your DVRs! In just one week, Whale Wars Season 6 returns to Animal Planet with the entire season's worth of battles compressed into one dramatic two-hour TV Special! Don’t miss Whale Wars: A Commander Rises on Friday, December 13th at 9pm ET! Be sure to check your local listings. The show will chronicle the dramatic high seas encounters with Japan's whaling fleet by Sea Shepherd Australia’s brave crew of more than 100 volunteers from around the world and their epic 2012-2013 Antarctic whale defense campaign.
While Sea Shepherd Australia has been battling the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) on the high seas in defense of whales, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and its founder Captain Paul Watson have been fighting ICR in the courtroom. Due to an injunction by the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2012, Captain Watson was unable to take part in the campaign as captain or crew, and was unable to make landfall due to an INTERPOL Red Notice seeking his arrest on politically motivated charges. So, he stayed onboard Sea Shepherd Australia's ship, the Steve Irwin as an observer and to document the campaign. Oh, you'll see him on the show, but not in his usual spot at the helm.
Video on Shark Protection Presented to Latin American Environmental Prosecutors
Sea Shepherd Galapagos raised awareness among key decision-makers in environmental law enforcement
On Friday, November 22, 2013, Sea Shepherd Galapagos presented the Spanish-Portuguese version of the video Fiscales y protección de tiburones (prosecutors and shark protection) at the Fifth Latin-American Congress of Environmental Prosecutors, held in Bogotá, Colombia.
The Congress was organized by the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network (Red Latinoamericana de Ministerios Públicos Ambientales), whose aim is to facilitate communication and exchange of experiences among public officers and in the field of environmental law enforcement. The Network is comprised of more than one hundred prosecutors from 19 Latin-American countries.
In Latin America, the Ministerio Público is the equivalent to the Attorney General’s Office in the United States. Many Latin-American countries have recently established specialized Environmental Units within their Ministerios Públicos, to better fight against environmental crimes. The members of the Network are part of such units. They are public officers charged with law enforcement functions, representing the public on environmental penal and civil cases.
The members of Red are fundamental decision-makers to environmental law enforcement, including marine issues. Hence, the presentation of the video at their Congress was a very important opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to shark protection, namely overfishing and shark finning, an act considered an environmental crime in most Latin-American laws.
The video was shown to an audience of more than 130 prosecutors from 17 countries, all of them bordering the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea. The video is of regional reach, and presents sharks as a perfect model of evolution and explains their vital role in maintaining a healthy balance in the oceans. It also explains the importance of including shark habitats in marine protected areas and shows the threats faced by sharks, namely finning. It ends by highlighting the role of environmental prosecutors in enforcing laws and treaties on shark protection.
The video was received with much enthusiasm by the audience. Among them were prosecutors from the Colombian Environmental Unit which, last year, prosecuted a penal case on shark finning and, ultimately, achieved the first conviction in the country and the region, and one of the very few worldwide. That landmark conviction has set an important judicial precedent on shark protection.
More than 900 copies of the video were distributed at the Congress to help the prosecutors spread the message of the need for enforcement of shark protection laws.
Through the video, Sea Shepherd Galapagos aimed to bring the oceans to every prosecutor’s office in an effort to raise awareness about the important role of law enforcement in protecting sharks.
Sea Shepherd Galapagos produced the video for the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network, in collaboration with UGENA. We are grateful to all who have helped in achieving this two-year effort, including UGENA´s video producer Jeff Litton; Silvia Cappelli, President of the Latin-American Environmental Prosecutor’s Network; Hugo Echeverria, Gunther Reck, Vania Tuglio, Randall Arauz, Michael Goldschlager and Luciano Furtado-Loubet. Special thanks to Alex Cornelissen, director of Sea Shepherd Galapagos.
Sea Shepherd will soon produce an English version of the video in order to reach an even wider audience.
Fiscales y Protección de Tiburones (Spanish / Español)
Sea Shepherd Galapagos
site for more information.
75 - 80 Bottlenose Dolphins Captured Yesterday in the Cove; Captive Selection & Slaughter at ~ 1 PM PT Today
Tune in today at ~ 1 pm pt to watch the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian live stream at: http://livestream.seashepherd.org
After yesterday’s capture, the killers were seen moving current captives from pen to pen, crowding them together to make room for the many newly stolen dolphins they will undoubtedly take captive today. The enormous Bottlenose pod means the killers will make serious payday, as this is the species sought after by marine parks and swim-with-dolphin encounters. Many young females will be taken, as they are the best breeding stock, and the very tiniest babies will likely be dumped at sea, where without their mothers or the safety of their pod, they will likely not survive. The remainder of the pod will be brutally slaughtered for their meat.
The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in several regions throughout Japan each year. In Taiji, starting on September 1st and usually continuing through March of the following year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into shallow bays and mercilessly stab and drown them to death with a metal spike inserted into their blowhole to sever their spine. They slowly bleed to death and drown in their own blood. These inhumane, brutal killings would not be allowed in any slaughterhouse in the world.
Taiji’s annual slaughter of dolphins was virtually unknown until 2003 when Sea Shepherd — an international non-profit marine conservation organization — globally released covertly obtained footage and photographs of the now infamous bloody Cove.
Tune into the live stream at ~ 1 pm PT today at: http://livestream.seashepherd.org
Taiji and the Drive to Extinction
Commentary by Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen
The first drive of Striped dolphins in Taiji this season took place on November 23. After the terrorizing drive towards the harbor, the animals got entangled in the nets and were run over by the skiffs. One dolphin, who got stuck between the rocks and the net, panicked and trashed his or her body onto the rocks. Blood poured out, turning the Cove red once again. One animal was selected for a life of slavery in captivity, while the other 40-45 were butchered.
A common argument from slaughter apologists ignoring the immense suffering endured by dolphins killed in Taiji, is that these dolphins are not endangered. That might be true for some species on a global scale, but certainly not in Japanese waters. This was confirmed again recently by the ‘Toxic Catch’ report of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency.
Striped dolphins have been heavily and indiscriminately hunted in Japanese waters in both drive and hand-harpoon hunts. In the Meiji period of the late 19th century, 20 villages held opportunistic drive hunts almost exclusively for Striped dolphins. Quotas were not introduced until 1993. Between 1963 and 1992, at least 159,500 Striped dolphins were killed.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency stated in 1993 that it was reasonable to assume that the numbers of Striped dolphins had declined to less than 10% of the numbers of 1950. The IWC Scientific Commission came to that same conclusion a year earlier, and strongly urged Japan in 1992 and again in 1993, to halt the killing of these dolphins who were vanishing from Japan’s waters. It is a Japanese fisheries tradition to do absolutely nothing with warnings, conclusions and urgings of this nature.
The hunts in Futo and Kawana on the Izu Coast, Shizuoka Prefecture, may have led to the complete eradication of the ‘local’ Striped dolphin population. In the 1960s, 10,000-20,000 dolphins were killed in Futo each year. 1974 was the last time that more than 10,000 were killed, and in 1980 the 5,000 barrier was crossed one final time. Soon the dead could be counted in the hundreds and then in the tens. In ’86, ’87 and ’90 none were caught. Since 1992, not a single Striped dolphin has been found. There has not been a successful hunt of Striped dolphins in Chiba since 1995.
Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, started the hunt for Striped dolphins in 1974 and killed more than 11,000 in 1980. The numbers have dropped drastically since that time. By the 1990s, the Striped dolphin catch figures in Taiji had fallen by 90%. The quota for Striped dolphins in Taiji is 450 and has not changed since quotas were introduced in 1993. The national quota has been 725 since that year, divided in drive hunts in Wakayama and Shizuoka and hand-harpoon hunts in Wakayama and Chiba. The hand-harpoon hunts rarely reach their catch limit. In a 1996 resolution on Striped dolphin hunts, the IWC scientific commission urged Japan to take “appropriate action,” and expressed concern again in 1997 after Taiji exceeded their quota by 22 animals in the 1996/97 season. The next season, Taiji reported exactly 450 Striped dolphins caught. That number is either fabricated to appease the critics or dolphins were driven back out of the bay when the quota was reached. Given the poor survival rate of Striped dolphins in captivity and their susceptibility to stress, many more will have died at sea.
Japan reduced the catch quota in prefectures where no catches were taking place and permitted the Wakayama prefecture in which Taiji is located to exceed their catch limits by allocating to them the quotas for Chiba and Shizuoka. So, where quota reductions had no effect on actual catches, they allowed an increase in slaughter where Striped dolphins could still be found. This kind of backwards logic is typical of the Japanese government when it comes to the destruction of ocean life.
Taiji’s killing and exploitation of Striped dolphins continues:
- 2000-2007: the hunters caught their exact quota or a number very close to it.
- 2008: 528 killed and 5 taken into slavery, far over the quota
- 2009: 321 butchered
- 2010/11 season: 251 killed and 2 sold to aquariums
- 2011/12 season: 324 slaughtered and one life captured
- 2012/13 season: 322 killed and 2 taken for captivity
As we know, Japan’s “fisheries” department is only interested in “science” that fills their freezers. The catch limits are based on over 20-year-old abundance figures, hopelessly out of date. Even if you look past all the suffering, as scientists and government officials in Japan do with no effort at all, and believe in the most prostituted word in the English language: “sustainability,” the current catch limits are more than 5 times higher and the actual catches more than 4 times higher than sustainability calculations would allow for.
A catastrophic decline like this leads to changes in the reproduction cycle of these intelligent, social animals. The average maturing age of females dropped from 9.7 to 7.2 years and the average calving interval decreased from 4.0 to 2.8 years. This is evolution’s desperate attempt to avert the impending and irreversible doom of extinction, but only ending the hunts once and for all can save the Striped dolphins passing through Japanese waters now.
TOXIC CATCH: Japan’s unsustainable and irresponsible whale, dolphin and porpoise hunts
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
The Dolphin Drive Hunt: Appropriate Management?
TOWARDS EXTINCTION the exploitation of small cetaceans in japan
CALL TO ACTION:
Please speak up and help us to protect Striped dolphins and other species being captured and killed in Taiji from being wiped out. Let’s remind the International Whaling Commission that, for the dolphins, extinction is forever!
Unlike whales, small cetaceans (e.g., dolphins, pilot whales, belugas, and orcas) do not have an international body like the International Whaling Commission to regulate the killing. There are simply no regulations or the regulations are ignored.
Please use the contact information below to ask the IWC to provide long-overdue protections for Striped and other dolphins:
International Whaling Commission:
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 233 971
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 232 876
THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT THE DOLPHINS!
New Zealand Marine Wildlife Under Threat – Part 2: Shark Finning
Commentary By Tracy Brown, Sea Shepherd Auckland Coordinator
It’s a strange dichotomy when a nation needs legislative change for the environment, but is offered a proposal that is less than the ideal protection of the apex predators that maintain that very environment. But if the proposal is an advancement of what was offered a year ago, and a vast improvement of the existing 2008 legislation, then the proposal to secure the elimination of shark finning in New Zealand waters is a good idea.
The New Zealand government has begun a public consultation process that is intended to eliminate shark finning over several years – and we all are now welcome to make submissions to legislate for shark protection (at least from finning anyway). Submissions end on December 8 and we want protection for sharks as soon as possible. There is a quick and easy way to make your submission at New Zealand Shark Alliance.
New Zealand’s statistics are less than desirable, as the top exporter of dried shark fin to the United States, one of the top twenty countries for killing sharks and exporting shark fins globally, and a major exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong. New Zealand can, and should, learn from Pacific Island neighbours who have already legislated for shark protection: Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Tokelau, Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia. New Zealand can be part of the growing number of countries that understand the critical role played by sharks in the management of healthy oceans.
Simon Ager, manager of the Brigitte Bardot during 2012 shark defense campaign Operation Requiem, astutely believes that all countries have a moral obligation to protect the marine environment, and in particular, sharks. The short term gains of shark finning are at the expense of long term need to maintain the wealth of marine ecosystems. And no country can afford a dead ocean. Concerns for the survival of many keystone predators from oceanic ecosystems have long been documented, and effective protection that does not endanger the survival of sharks is crucial.
New Zealand is on the cusp of joining the 98 countries who have protected shark populations by eliminating shark finning. The government has issued a proposal that, if effectively administered and enforced, could halt the tonnes of fin being taken out of New Zealand waters (160 tonnes were exported from New Zealand just last year). This proposal has the potential to protect the Blue, Porbeagle and Mako sharks that are currently the top three species finned in New Zealand, and which incidentally are also on the United Nations Red List as being Vulnerable in status or Near Threatened. The proposal would ensure that shark species will be researched to assess population biomass and habitat, an important change because the current population status of most New Zealand sharks is data deficient.
But at the moment the document is just a plan, a plan that needs a strong voice to activate and enshrine into legislation. Through your submissions, the government will receive a clear message to conserve, protect, and defend the sharks that traverse New Zealand waters.
What can be done before December 8, 2013 - when the submission phase closes?
- 1. Make a submission here: New Zealand Shark Alliance.
- Share widely
Be proud of the fact that you can make a difference at policy level, and for legislation that, if successful, will secure a better future for New Zealand sharks. Thank you.
Reality TV Star Simone Reyes Arrives in Taiji, Japan to Serve as Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian
Simone Reyes, reality star of Oxygen TV’s long-running hit series, “Running Russell Simmons” and devoted animal protection advocate arrived overnight in Taiji, Japan to serve as a volunteer Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian for Operation Infinite Patience.
Working as a member of Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardian team on the ground, Reyes will remain in Taiji for ten days to document and publicize the inhumane capture and slaughter of entire pods of wild dolphins, as depicted in the Academy Award-winning documentary, “The Cove” (2009). Using the power of photography and video as well as live stream, Reyes will shine a spotlight on the crimes of nature being committed against these innocent mammals who have never harmed humans and in fact have been documented to have rescued humans lost at sea.
Reyes has been entertainment mogul Russell Simmons’ right-hand woman since high school and is often affectionately referred to as the "Boss" by Simmons himself. As the breakout star of "Running Russell Simmons," she became an overnight sensation in the animal rights community.
"The atrocities that continue in Taiji at The Cove need international attention,” said Russell Simmons, Chairman of Rush Communications. “I have no doubt that Simone being there on the ground will spotlight this cause and hopefully work to bring an end to the slaughter."
The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in Japan each year. In Taiji, starting on September 1st and usually continuing through March of the following year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into shallow bays and mercilessly stab and drown them to death with a metal spike inserted into their blowhole to sever their spine. The killings are extremely inhumane. Death is not instantaneous for these intelligent, socially complex, large-brained mammals scientists say are among the smartest animals on the planet. The dolphins must watch their family members killed one by one until it’s their turn. They die an agonizing, barbaric death while drowning in their own blood and the blood of their family members.
Taiji’s annual slaughter of dolphins was virtually unknown until 2003 when Sea Shepherd globally released covertly obtained footage and photographs of the now infamous bloody “Cove.” To date, public outcry to the Japanese government to stop this cruelty has fallen on deaf ears, but by documenting the slaughter and raising awareness via video, photographs, blogs and in the media, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians hope to unite the world to bring an end to one of the cruelest hunts on Earth.
So far this season, nine pods of dolphins (pilot whales are part of the dolphin family) have been driven into the Cove in Taiji. From those pods, 46 animals have been taken captive for sale to marine parks and swim-with-dolphin encounters, 91 have been slaughtered for human consumption, and 7 bodies have been found washed ashore due to the stress of the hunts and captures. Earlier this week in Taiji, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians documented the capture of a large pod of bottlenose dolphins — the species made famous by the popular ‘60s TV show, “Flipper.” After being held overnight in a tiny cove, trainers selected 12 of the dolphins for captivity and the rest were slaughtered for human consumption. Our volunteers witnessed trainers working hand-in-hand with the killers to select the “most beautiful” (i.e., saleable) dolphins for captivity. The Cove Guardians even captured video of a female trainer helping to deliver the dead bodies of dolphins to the butcher house. This is simply more evidence that the Taiji dolphin slaughter and the captive marine mammal industry are inextricably linked.
“We are honored and excited to welcome Simone to the Cove Guardian team,” said Melissa Sehgal, Cove Guardian Senior Leader. “She is a powerful and devoted voice for animals and we know her passion and presence will illuminate the ongoing atrocities in Taiji for all the world to see,” Sehgal added.
SeaWorld vs. OSHA: No Matter Who Wins, the Whales Lose
Commentary by Jennifer Mishler and Sandy McElhaney
In 2010, following an investigation into the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) slapped SeaWorld with safety citations and $75,000 in fines. OSHA determined that SeaWorld had willfully violated employee safety by putting their trainers in the water in close interaction with the captive orcas.
In 2011, SeaWorld appealed the citations, which were upheld by Judge Ken Welsch, though he reduced their fine to $12,000 and downgraded their violation from “willful” to “serious.” The events leading up to the trial and the trial itself were the subject of the documentary Blackfish, recently aired on CNN.
SeaWorld continues to fight OSHA, though, because the shows featuring orcas held captive at their parks are a source of millions of dollars in annual revenues. Earlier today, SeaWorld appealed OSHA’s citations in a United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit before a three-judge panel. SeaWorld argued that OSHA’s decision applies “20/20 hindsight,” and that SeaWorld could not have predicted orca Tilikum’s aggression toward their trainer.
But SeaWorld knew Tilikum’s story. He was brutally taken from the wild and his pod at about two years of age in November 1983, this past weekend marking 30 years since his capture. Before Tilikum pulled Brancheau under the water and killed her in February 2010, he was also involved in the death of trainer Keltie Byrne at SeaLand of the Pacific in 1991. In 1999, Tilikum was found with the body of a man who entered SeaWorld Orlando and Tilikum’s tank after the park closed. This is what SeaWorld knew before Dawn Brancheau was killed.
Still, despite this and the more than 100 other documented orca-trainer incidents in their parks, SeaWorld argued today that their trainers should be allowed in the water for “close interaction” with the whales. Eugene Scalia, head lawyer on SeaWorld’s legal team and son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said that SeaWorld “exists to provide that opportunity to view that close interaction between whales and humans,” saying that audiences find the bond between the two “deeply moving.” SeaWorld claims to provide education about ocean life, but it has become clear that what they’re really providing is entertainment at the expense of ocean life, and at the expense of their own employees because it brings in money.
While Scalia compared the risks involved in SeaWorld’s shows to those in the NFL, not only do both sides of a football game know the risks involved, but they are also both willing participants. We don’t know of any football players held against their will and forced to play.
SeaWorld maintains that OSHA’s restrictions change the nature of their “product,” while OSHA argues that SeaWorld is a workplace and, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, has a responsibility to eliminate recognized hazards to the greatest extent possible.
If SeaWorld loses their appeal, the last option will be to bring their case to the Supreme Court. Regardless of who wins – SeaWorld or OSHA – it is clear that the orcas will lose. These intelligent, socially complex animals will continue to live dramatically shortened lives in barren tanks and be forced to perform for food.
We have seen the cruelty behind marine mammal captivity before, and we see it daily in Taiji, Japan, where the dolphins who are not chosen for lives in captivity are brutally killed in front of their families. Earlier this week in Taiji, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians documented the capture of a large pod of bottlenose dolphins. After being held overnight in a tiny cove, 12 of the dolphins were selected by trainers for captivity and the rest slaughtered for human consumption. Our volunteers, positioned above the killing cove, witnessed the trainers working hand-in-hand with the killers to select the “prettiest” dolphins for captivity. There can be no denying the link between the Taiji dolphin slaughter and the captive marine mammal industry, of which SeaWorld is a key player. If SeaWorld truly cared about the welfare of marine mammals, today’s hearing would not have been about the corporation’s right to interact with captive whales as part of its shows, but rather the rights of whales to live in the ocean. How many more have to die before you get it, SeaWorld?
Statement regarding the ICR vs. SSCS USA contempt proceedings in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Regarding the contempt proceedings in the case of the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) vs. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA (SSCS USA) in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which began on October 28 in Seattle, Wash. and concluded yesterday:
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA was pleased to have had the opportunity to present its case against the allegations of contempt brought before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research. Sea Shepherd USA’s directors, its founder, and staff believe that the organization has done its utmost to comply with the injunction. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to present evidence and we look forward to a decision in this case.
Next steps: Briefings will be filed by attorneys for both sides. The Commissioner will review the briefings and issue his recommendations to the three-‐member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court. A decision from the panel might be expected in the next several weeks.