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The Canadian seal hunt comes around once a year, and along with the hunt comes the international day of action against it: March 15th.
This year is looking more promising than ever. The European Union is considering a complete ban on seal products, a bill to ban the hunt has been introduced in the Canadian senate for the first time since the ’70s, and the general demand for seal products is shrinking worldwide.
An end to the hunt seems inevitable, but it won’t happen without continued pressure. Here are 5 simple ways you can help stop the hunt next Saturday:
1. Attend a rally
If you live near one of these scheduled rallies in various countries, show up with signs or costumes to make the plight of the seals known to the general public. If anything, you’re sure to meet some like-minded people and have a good time.
2. Ask Canadian politicians to support the seal hunt banMichael Wilson, Ambassador to the US Embassy of Canada 501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, D.C. 2001 Tel: 202-682-1740 Fax: 202-682-7726
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa K1A 0A2Fax: 613-941-6900e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 3. Thank Senator Mac Harb for sponsoring the bill to end the hunt
Canadian Senator Mac Harb is the first senator in decades to sponsor a bill in opposition to the seal hunt. Not a single other senator has expressed any support for his bill, so chances are that it won’t get anywhere this time. Regardless, to encourage Harb to reintroduce the bill in the future, he needs to know that there are millons of people across the world who support his effort. Shoot an email here: email@example.com
4. Ask the European Union Parliament to pass the ban on seal products
In Defense of Animals suggests that you fill out the “Brief Request” section of this form email with the words “Please ban seal products from EU territory” and then specifically state in the Your Request section something to the extent of “Please ban products derived from seals from being imported into the EU, exported from it, or even transported through EU territory in Brussels on 1 April 2009.”
5. Start boycotting Canadian seafood — and ask friends to as well
If you eat fish, try to check the country of origin before buying. A boycott on Canadian seafood began in 2004 and continues to this day with the support of the Humane Society of the united States, Harpseals.org, Animal Alliance of Canada, and Sea Shepherd. Check out this list of common Canadian seafood products to watch out for.
As mentioned in my last blogalong, there may be a mention of ghosts in the next one – well here’s a story –
The above pic is of snowclouds rolling in to Beechworth in the sunrise – Beechworth, North Eastern Victoria, gold rush country in 1852, and where notorious bushranger Ned Kelly was sentenced to death after the Glenrowan Siege, home of the notorious Beechworth Jail, and the even more notorious Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum
In 1867, if you were lucky, as one of the first ‘guests’ at Mayday Hills, and if you were let out of your cell early enough, you would have seen a sunrise like this one.
As you were transported to this facility, you would have trotted up the hill in a shabby cart, along Albert Street, and the first part of Mayday Hills you would have seen was the gatehouse -
Around the corner to the right you would have alighted at the grand front door of Her Majesties Asylum --
On the right, just over the car roof, is the main entrance.
Once you were inside, you usually died there – 2 signatures to get you in, 8 signatures to get you out – from 8 year old horse thieves, to post natal depression, to drunken hallucinations, arsenic poisoning, men, women, children, all separated in a walled, 24 acre lunatic asylum
The first night, you would have slept in a cell like this – only a mattress and a pan – no lighting – wood shuttered thick glass windows -
If you were female, and lucky, you would have been housed in the female only, laundry wing – its warmer in winter snow – this wing now remains as the only example of an untouched 1800’s psychiatric ward anywhere in Australia.
If you were sick, you may have ended up in the infirmary, Grevillia House, like Ned Kelly’s uncle did.
Either way, most likely, you would only be waiting to become one of the 3000 plus that died in there.
Fast forward to today – MaydayHillsPsychiatric Hospital, as it was recently called, closed in 1995, and the buildings were gifted to La Trobe University. It is now a campus, but many of the buildings remain in original condition.
Throughout the operation of this facility, reports of ghosts and apparitions have been commonly reported by staff, and now staff and students of La Trobe are seeing the Matron walking down stairs and entering what is now the computer room, holding a lantern, as one of my friends, a nurse there, who saw her in 1995 can testify.
Green coated men wandering the old garden site, doors slamming, footsteps in empty upstairs rooms, orbs, lantern carrying and more now can be seen at Mayday Hills.
Eerie reflections like this one, light through a clear paned window on a cell wall -
I took these ‘green pics’ without flash in available light, then enhanced the contrast on the pc – the face on left in above pic is a ghost tourer – look at the middle top panel -
Taken in Grevillia House, Adam, the tour guide, was illuminated from the front – the light on the wall was not there when I took the pic – mebbe it was Kelly’s uncle, who left his signature scratched into glass in Grevillia, after being incarcerated for burning down a house, containing many relatives, including 14 year old Ned – who all escaped, by the way -
Next, taken over two nights, are a series of lights in windows and a doorway, that were not reflections of other lights, and not visible by my eyes when the pics were taken -
taken on the second night was this unexpected light –
And this unexpected light, taken at the front building –
But the best pics were taken the evening before, whilst on the ghost tour – www.beechworthghosttours.com – with Adam and a small but interested crew – again, no flash, no reflected light, contrast adjusted to show available light -
and a blowup of the doorway -
Now did I mention the smells? Death, portwine pipe tobacco, sly brewery, kerosene, or the creepy footprints in empty rooms, the feeling of illness when entering Grevillia, --- you decide – I will be back there for more investigation, that’s for sure – anyone for a tour?
Now, this blogalong isn’t about my weird pastimes, it’s about the environment.
I mentioned in the previous blogalong that the great plains feeding the Murray Darling River System looked green – how deceiving – whilst at Beechworth, I read in the local paper about the miserable state of Wodonga Creek, which leaves the Murray east of Albury, and joins it again west of Wodonga. This tweaked my interest, as a kid, I played in and around Wodonga Creek.
Soon the way back to the Whale Call Camp, I detoured around the Wodonga Traveling Stock route, as far as the rotted out bridge I used to ride my bike over –
And shook my head at what I saw – rivulets dry for the first time in my life, pylons meters above the old water level, trees dropping on the banks, a useless river, and still thousands of kilometers to go to get to the sea.
A few kilometers away, the Majestic Murray is no longer majestic – neither is the paddle steamer that plied it – stuck in mud – the Murray reduced to a dribble – river redgums in death throes, and water being sucked dry by agriculture, industry, and huge ‘decentralised’ cities.
And here’s something regular readers may have seen before – it is a new species of ground orchid that I found in 1998 – it is now named, and has just been added to the threatened species list as critically endangered.
It has been a 1700 kilometer drive from Wadalba via Lightning Ridge to Beechworth through the center of New South Wales, following the inland river systems to the Murray river
Water at lightning ridge comes from the great artesian basin, is extracted with bores, and is hot and mineral.
The free to use hot bore baths at the ridge are a must for a visit.
Healing properties of this water are renowned, but the GreatArtesianBasin is now testing positive for phytoestrogens and antibiotics, on top of the agricultural chemicals that have leached into the underground basin.
The quirkyness of lightning ridge, the home of Black Opal, can be seen in this pic of the local bottleshop
Mining for opal here started in the early 1900’s –
This is the first legal mine at the ridge, commenced in 1908.
On the drive south from the ridge, at Forbes, I came across the sheep yards in full usage for an auction – as this area is a sheep/wheat growing region, I expected a few sheep, but not the 25,000 that came in for this auction.
As you can imagine, the result from industries of this type is water pollution, so I stopped, took a few pics, looked for signs of obvious animal cruelty, then drove south to the other side of town, only to find a swamp full of dead old growth trees.
It looked healthy at casual glance with bird populations using the tree hollows and branches for nesting, black swans and ducks on the water, with numerous smaller bird species utilizing the reeds at the edges –
but the initial appearance is deceiving. Excessive nutrients have made the edges and calmer areas of the lagoon poisonous with thick layers of blue green algae – enough for council to post warning signs not to use or go in the water.
GumtreeSwamp is its name. A man made swamp initially constructed for town water use, killing old growth trees, and creating a watery wasteland.
Driving south again, over the Murray river, and to Beechworth, looking for the next spot of clean potable water. I found some on the ground – it hadn’t had the chance to hit the dirt to absorb the toxic residues of gold mining –
A gumleaf, high in essential oils, allows water to float in droplets on the tough skin of the leaf –
Beechworth is a heritage town, with a rich history of gold mining. Chinese, Welsh and others made an impact that still stands and can be seen in the town.
It also has the claim to fame of being the town where Ned Kelly, notorious Australian Bushranger was put to trial and sentenced to hanging for his ‘crimes’
This granite mountainous areaprovided much gold for the emerging colony, and much of it was hard rock tunnel mining.
Alluvial gold was present, and still is present in the Beechworth Gorge and Woolshed Creek.
The pic below is Woolshed creek – already polluted water from livestock coliforms, and high levels of arsenic and other associated minerals.
The holes in this creek regularly produce pannable gold.
The lengths gone to, in order to preserve a historic feel in the town, extend to the local garage – this is the town’s flat bed tilt tray tow truck.
In a museum in town, I found this horse drawn hearse, built in Beechworth in the 1800s. Seeing this really made my day –
In the 1950s, my dad had a radio repair and manufacturing shop in Rutherglen, about 30 miles away from here. When possible, I went with dad to the shop, which he visited weekly – I was an inquisitive kid, so it was no surprise I was to be found on many occasions playing in the yard at the rear of the shop. This yard was owned by the local garage/service station, and had a big open shed straddling the rear boundary. In this shed was a variety of cars, trucks, and a horse drawn hearse. The hearse was covered in chicken droppings, and hen nesting spots, but beneath the dirt I saw a magnificent piece of craftsmanship.
Over the years I often thought of this vehicle, and wondered what had happened to it.
In the mid 1980s, I revisited the spot to look for it – there were houses there, and the shed was gone.
Today, I found it again – in the 1990s, the national heritage org put out a call for carriages and knowledge about them, in order to create a museum – carriages and horse drawn vehicles came out of the woodwork in droves, and someone donated the hearse to the collection.
It is now back where it came from.
Then I was due for another surprise.
The museum was in the premises of a hundred year old soft drink and brewing factory, M.B. – Murray Breweries.
When I was a kid, I drank their softdrinks and cordials, knowing it was from Beechworth, but not much more.
Well the company is still in production, and all the water they use comes from a spring, and has done since the factory was started. A 20 foot well had been dug through the hard rock, lined with bricks that look Chinese in manufacture, and this well is still in operation.
The water in this well comes from Mt Hotham, underground through the SnowyMountains, and emerges pure and free from pollutants.
Fresh clean water, and still the same as when it was found.
And I was drinking it 60 years ago.
Ok, that’s enough for now – while I was at Beechworth, I went on a ghost tour at Mayday Hills Asylum, now a Latrobe university campus – amazing – a report and pics in the next blogalong –
I have just been prodded by a foreign correspondent – “you should write more about your life, it’s interesting.”
I replied “but I don’t have the time at the moment - the past 3 months have been full on pressure trying to save 2 sites from housing – one, a new suburb, and the other, 3 new suburbs.”
Yes, it was early December when I put the last blogalong together.
Since then, I have been consumed with the above projects.
Its not that I want to stop housing, but I have a moral responsibility to ensure that this government, nor any other government, does not willingly allow the destruction of extremely rare genetic material, and listed threatened and endangered species, as well as abiding by their own laws when making decisions that will push some species to the brink of extinction.
And there are species new to science in all proposed sites.
Whilst on the issue of extinction, I must relate the story of the Canberra Kangaroo Cull catastrophe. When the issue surfaced, I put together the following –
The Canberra site is a military signals base with mostly grassland. It is a totally fenced site, and the roos have no means of escape from the site.
They have been there for many years, and without predators such as dogs, they have increased in population size.
Roos have a natural contraception that can be switched on when bad times are ahead, but this population is not slowing down its breeding so obviously they consider they can multiply on the site without overgrazing it. Eastern greys have a tendency to breed profusely when the rainfall is 200mm over the monthly average, and this has been the case in Canberra within the past six months.
After speaking with govt scientists, I have been told that there has never been an environmental impact statement prepared for this site, and there certainly has never been an orchid survey of the site.
Arachnorchis actensis is a critically endangered species, found in a semi circle around Canberra. The gap in the circle is the military site. This orchid has been previously been located only kilometers away in an area which is now housing. As there is some habitat on the Military site suitable for this orchid, it could be assumed that the precautionary principle should be applied until the circumstances effecting the ongoing growth of this species are mitigated, and surveys done for the species.
Unfortunately, kangaroos eat the succulent leaves and flowers of terrestrial orchids, and are a specific threat to this species. The orchid, however, can survive underground for many years despite the above ground parts being eaten, as they have an association with a fungus to provide the carbon transfer to the plant, and allow it to produce annual underground tubers for reproduction.
The release of roos from this site will put the known orchid sites under pressure, as roos commute around Canberra already, and to leave the population expanding as it is, will eventually remove all orchid populations from the Canberra site.
Failing to manage kangaroo populations around Canberra could be interpreted as a significant impact to the habitat of this critically endangered orchid.
Then the greens put out a media release on the issue –
Politics costing endangered species
ACT Greens MLA Deb Foskey today expressed her deep concern that the politics of the issue of the kangaroos on the Lawson Defence site has overtaken good science.
"Let's go back to first base: In May last year we were told that as a matter of urgency, the captive kangaroos reproduced beyond sustainable numbers, threatening an endangered grassland and its dependent species," said Dr Foskey today.
"That was an election year, so the decision was deferred, worsening the situation for kangaroos, grasslands and the endangered species."
"So the situation this year is even more urgent."
"These are difficult issues, but they cannot be shirked. It seems to me that Defence is putting off the hard decisions that a responsible land manager must make."
"And the reported refusal of the Chief Minister to contact his federal colleague to put the ACT's case is unhelpful, to say the least."
"The primary concern must be protection of the grasslands and the endangered species because nothing returns from extinction."
"The endangered species at Lawson apparently don't have the emotional pulling power of the fortunately abundant Eastern Grey kangaroo, but they are part of the ecological fabric."
"While a research project looking at the ecological and animal welfare consequences of translocation of kangaroos from Lawson would be useful if this horrendous situation arises again, funding for the project must not come at the expense of protecting endangered species on Defence land."
"When the Commissioner for the Environment's report first appeared, I commented on the paucity of information behind her dismissal of the translocation option. That lack of scientific rigour has come back to bite the ACT Government."
"Since then I have sought detailed information about the impacts of translocation and have been surprised that there is no systematic scientificdata."
"All the evidence to date suggests that it is not a humane or effective solution to the problem, although Defence apparently finds it politically expedient."
"If it is to go ahead, I urge Defence to restrict the scientific translocation exercise to about 100 animals and proceed with the cull immediately in order to protect the grasslands. The research must be pursued with scientific rigour and documented, because if Defence continues to manage its land so poorly, it will be faced with the same situation again - perhaps at Majura in the very near future" said Dr Foskey.
In the midst of all that, was the issue of whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, which became an interesting chess game between Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, the Japanese military [who are barred by law from entering Antarctic waters by a treaty Japan does not recognise], the Whaling fleet, a refitted Japanese fishing/spy vessel bristling with electronics, fuel wasting chases, the Australian customs ship, hide and seek behind icebergs, a boarding of a Japanese ship by 2 Sea Shepherd members to deliver a letter of warning to the captain that they were in breach of Australian law which the Japanese do not recognise], the attack by grenades on the Steve Irwin by Japanese military, the shooting and attempted murder of Captain Paul Watson, the necessary denials from the Japanese, the still photo of a possible gun flash from the Japanese ship, more denials, political meetings to try to solve the situation by allowing Japan to whale elsewhere without impunity, most likely endangered fin and humpbacks taken before Japan ‘promised’ not to take humpbacks and an interrupted season with few whales taken.
And the Lepidoptera study I started in earnest in December, has grown, with 49 named species, and at least 17 species either unknown, undescribed, or impossible to photograph. All these species have been recorded within a 300 meter radius of Wadalba Hill.
Eurema hecabe, the Common Grass Yellow Butterfly, resting at Wadalba.
Wadalba Wildlife Corridor and Cultural Heritage Report # 27 has also been put online since the last blogalong, and can be found on the above link as well.
To the south of Wadalba, clearing for grazing land in the 1950’s removed the vegetation from part of a wetland – this recent fog covers the area where the wetland was. In heavy rain events, this area is also flooded. The wood ducks in this pic are all facing the rising sun.
If you have been following the blogalong, you may remember that I have been restoring a 1974 Toyota Coaster Motor Home, to use as a Whale Call Event bus, and to access natural areas of isolated bushland for extended study.
We took it on its first trip since the restoration to test it out for any problems – yes there were some probs, but it ran well, and didn’t leak.
To save duplicating, go to the two threads in the Whale Call Café, posted by Tony, who came with me to run a Whale Call information stall at the festival we attended, the Nundle Go For Gold festival. All the pics I took are in these 2 threads –
Briefly, I volunteered to assist the Go For Gold Committee to teach gold panning to interested people. Now disturbing rivers and streams by panning is an avoidable behaviour, so as I showed people how to pan gold, I explained to them that they should not dig up stream banks, they should not make the creek or river muddy from the panning, and be aware of the environment so you minimize any damage.
Environmentally sensible gold panning involves taking a bucket of water from the creek, digging and prizing all the dirt from cracks and crevices in the rocks in and around the stream bed, and using the water to pan in an area away from the stream.
Topic: Arc en Ciel Trout Farm at HangingRockMountain
Over the past few years there have been a number of reports dealing with fish farming that have been scathing on the industry due to problems created in aquaculture relating to sea lice, nutrient/food intake usage and disposal of concentrated aquaculture water after farm usage..
The world average for trout production is 2.2 kilos of food in, to 1 kilo of trout meat produced. This figure is far from ecologically sustainable, but the Arc en Ciel Trout Farm is producing trout by getting 1 kilo of trout from 1 kilo of food put into the system.
The bonus for me during this trip was to photograph a Graphium macleayensis, the Green Triangle Butterfly, rarely seen at ground level, and never seen alive by my expert butterfly advisor.
Last time I was there, I saw a spotted tail quoll – quite a rare sight in the Aussie Bush – it was too fast for my camera, but the farm owners see them regularly.
That’s all for now folks – I hope you understand how I find it difficult to acquire time to write more blogalongs –
Again there has been so much going on that time to compile a blog has been hard to find – between the email subscriptions, and the myspace subscriptions, this blogalong now has over 500 subscribers, with thousands more readers of each issue –
I would like to thank all who have left comments and messages of support – and I wish you safe holidays, and an upcoming positive year---
It has been a busy few months, with magpie rescues and care being but one of the issues to deal with.
Wildlife at Wadalba has been active, [check the wadalba reports in the documents section of www.whalecall.org ]
The Whaling issue is on the table again, and there has been a new government in Australia -which has required re establishing contacts and organizing new contacts to brief on environment issues, both locally and country wide.
Despite pre election promises by the new environment minister to ‘send the navy to stop illegal whaling in the southern ocean sanctuary’, this action is unlikely to occur. Since the election, the tune has changed to ‘monitor and collect evidence’ – and at the time of writing this blog, the only ships in the southern ocean are the Japanese killing fleet, and Sea Shepherd – no greenpeace in sight, no navy in sight either –and the killing has started.
The I.F.A.W/Whale Call/Oceania Project/Surfers for Cetaceans Humpback Icon Project has attained its goal of fifty Humpback Whales adopted by Coastal Councils around Australia
The news release is as follows –
FIFTY HUMPBACK ICONS UNDER THREAT
On behalf of the Humpback Icon Project, IFAW and Whale Call are pleased to announce that 50 councils and communities around Australia have officially adopted individual humpback whales.
Tragically, these whales, including Wyong’s own adopted whale Norah (www.iconproject.com.au) could become victims of Japan’s expanded “scientific” whale hunt. The whaling fleet, which is due to arrive in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this weekend, is set to kill more than 1000 whales, including for the first time in four decades, 50 humpback whales.
“The whales are an incredibly important part of our community – we look forward to the return of these magnificent creatures on their migration each year.To lose a single humpback to whalers’ harpoons would be a tragedy,” said Debra Raymont, local HIP Coordinator.
Wyong is calling on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to honour his election promise and take decisive action to protect whales from the hunt.
“Although it’s wonderful to see that 49 other towns have joined us in adopting a humpback, we must all unite now to urge the Australian Government to take action and protect our iconic humpback whales, and the $300 million whale watch industry they support,” Ms Raymont from Whale Call said.
“The depth and breadth of feeling about humpbacks among the Australian communities is almost tangible.To have reached the landmark figure of 50 adoptive communities clearly demonstrates that Australians will not sit back and let the Government of Japan unlawfully and inhumanely kill these animals for their “scientific” scam,” said Darren Kindleysides, IFAW Asia Pacific Campaigns Manager.
Each whale adopted through the Humpback Icon Project can be individually identified by its distinctive tail markings. Each of the 50 communities has named their whales, aiming to use them to educate people about the marine environment and raise awareness of the threats facing this vulnerable species.
The 50 communities stretch along the east coast of the mainland down to Tasmania and up the west coast of Australia, forming a symbolic chain of communities determined to save humpback whales from the harpoon.
The Humpback Icon Project is led by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), with support from the Oceania Project, Centre for Whale Research (WA) and Surfers for Cetaceans.
The Humpback Icon Project aims to reach 100 adopted whales before the next International Whaling Commission meeting, in May 2008. For more information, please visit www.stopwhaling.com.au
Global warming and climate change has been big in the news due to the Kyoto conference in Bali.Despite postulating by right wing deniers, the CO2 reductions we have to commit to, have started world wide. But it seems in the rush to get the Global Warming issue onto the world stage has impacted on other environmental issues.
Basic environmental protections are being undercut by state law, and more and more land is being excised from environmental law, mostly in the name of development.
We are fully aware of the lowering of species numbers with flora and fauna, but it seems the insect world is being left behind.
The lack of information, data and specimens on Australian insects is allowing councils to approve land for development without even noting the insect populations in the ecological studies – its in the ‘too hard basket’ – instead of gathering data on insects, each investigation is absolved somehow from assessing the part of the local insects in the studied environment.
Here is a good example -
This is Periclystus circuiter, an antlion, belonging to the order Neuroptera, which also contains the Lacewings.
The AustralianMuseum has about 20 specimens of this insect, indicating it is rarely seen, but the habitat data for the species is the huge drainage basins of N.S.W. N.T. and Queensland, where sand is available for larval growth.
This adult was found in my vegetable garden, and as I hadn’t seen it before, I photographed the specimen and emailed it to my entomology contacts at the AustMuseum, and in Queensland.
The Queensland entomologists I sent the pic to hadn’t seen it before, the museum specialist had seen it twice in the wild, in the Sydney region.
This is the first identification of this species from the Wyong Shire.
For many years I have seen antlion holes in sandy soil at Wadalba, but the common antlion in this shire is the Heoclisis species. This find puts out an alert that one of the country’s rarest insects resides in one part of the shire, and a part of the shire that is planned for development.
This find also points out that the environment surveys requested by council before development applications can be approved, are faulty, and because of failing to include the insect orders within the collected data, localized extinctions are highly likely to occur.
A long term study of Periclystus circuiter in Wyong Shire, in particular Wadalba should now be initiated – this would be a perfect study subject for the WadalbaCommunitySchool.
This is Nymphes myrmeleonide, a Lacewing, also in the Neuroptera order.
And a close up pic of a dragonfly –
Back to climate change and global warming – its summer time here – but December has been noted this year for huge storm cells – one of which passed through the Whale Call Camp last week – this pic is from my bedroom window – half-spheres the size of golfballs rattled the roof, ripped the canvas annex to pieces, and trashed leaf and flower bud on the trees.
After the 20 minute storm, I found this supply of ice hanging in the shadecloth --
Fortunately, I located no injured birds after this cranky thunderstorm cell.
Paul Watson doesn't stay on dry land very much. Last year the tireless eco-warrior was at sea for 50 weeks, and this year he has spent just one week at his home in Washington State. As he puts it: "There's no rest when you're on planetary duty."..
Arranging an interview takes time, and I am asked not to discuss the whereabouts of his hotel with anyone in advance because, his press officer reveals, "there have been death threats"..
When I finally meet Captain Watson, it is in an over-heated London hotel room. He is wearing a black T-shirt decorated with the logo for Sea Shepherd, the direct-action conservation group that he heads, surmounted by a skull and crossed trident and crook..
Watson is a softly spoken Canadian with a shock of grey hair - rather more Captain Birds Eye than Long John Silver. His record, however, speaks for itself. One of the original founders of Greenpeace in 1969, he left in 1977 because "the organisation got taken over by bureaucrats"..
Part of Watson's grievance was that Greenpeace was less inclined to use direct action against whalers. Although proud that his membership number was 007, he called Greenpeace "the Avon ladies of the environment movement"..
Since forming Sea Shepherd in 1981, Watson, a former Canadian coast guard, has commanded more than 200 voyages aimed at stopping Antarctic and Arctic whaling, illegal long-line fishing in the Pacific, the killing of seals in Canada and, more recently, poaching and shark-finning in Galapagos..
Sea Shepherd has, in his words, "boarded and rammed more ships, engaged in more high seas confrontations and sunk more ships than the Canadian navy"..
Watson and his mostly volunteer crews brave storms and ice-packs, hostile governments and illegal fishing vessels. He has rammed seven ships and scuttled another eight, and come under fire several times. But he has never been convicted of any crime..
Sea Shepherd is careful to act in accordance with the UN Charter for Nature, which allows for the enforcement of international law "by nations, non-governmental organisations and individuals". Watson is clear that everything he does is sanctioned under international maritime law..
Legal or not, Sea Shepherd's tactics include bombarding whaling crews with smoke bombs and slabs of rancid butter. The butter makes the decks too slippery to work upon, but Japanese whaling crews have described the substance as "acid"..
In January this year, two Sea Shepherd volunteers boarded the Yushin Maru in the Southern Ocean and chained themselves to a railing as they delivered a letter to the ship saying it was in breach of international law..
The two men were released without charge, according to Watson, on instructions from the Japanese prime minister..
"They don't want any more negative publicity over whaling than they already get," he says..
Watson's passion verges on the spiritual. His moment of revelation came in 1975 when he was trying to prevent a Soviet ship killing a sperm whale. At one point, a harpooned whale came close to sinking Watson's small inflatable boat..
"That dying whale looked right at me and chose not to harm me. It moved out of the way to avoid crushing us..
"What angered me was that the Russians were using the fine oil from the whales as lubricants in intercontinental ballistic missiles. Here were human beings killing these intelligent, peaceful and majestic creatures to use a bit of oil inside a killing machine.".
Although whaling is still one of Watson's prime concerns, his crews are at the forefront of publicising the dire state of the world's marine environment. He arrests illegal traffickers in sea cucumbers and Asian fishermen who slaughter sharks for use in shark fin soup - for which there is an insatiable demand in China's new economy..
He and his shipmates are all vegans..
"I don't eat fish because there is no such thing as sustainable fishing in the world right now," he says..
"There is no industry on this planet that is as wasteful. Commercial fishermen are the greediest, stupidest people on earth. I grew up in a fishing community and I don't like saying that, but these people may in the end be the cause of our planet's demise.".
British organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society and the Marine Stewardship Council would argue that certain fisheries are sustainable. Watson disagrees, maintaining that such bodies are afraid to confront the ugly reality of our dying seas.
To some, the views of a man once dubbed "Captain Nemo" smack of arrogance..
"I don't care what people say about me," he says. "My clients are the whales, the sharks and the fish populations who have no one to fight for them.".
Watson talks in soundbites and aphorisms. His environmentalism is mostly self-taught, but he is widely read. For a man who doesn't give many interviews, he has a fund of quotations and philosophical mantras at his disposal..
Japanese whalers have called him a terrorist. "But what does that word mean today, when the Chinese have called the Dalai Lama a terrorist?".
Watson believes that life on our planet conforms to what he calls the three fundamental laws of conservation. First the law of diversity, second the law of interdependence, and third the law of finite resources..
"We're close to losing our essential diversity. Look at our wheat crops - we rely on a handful of grain crops and plants that we've refined and bred over hundreds of years. It only takes a new disease to come along and take out one of the building blocks and the planet will go through an environmental correction.".
That's a typical Watsonian aphorism, but what, I ask, does he mean by it?.
"I mean that there are too many people in the world. But we aren't essential to its survival. Worms are more important to the system than we are - they can survive without human beings but we can't live without worms. I think the system will correct itself somehow as far as human beings are concerned.".
But human beings in developing countries rely on fishing to survive; in the West we are constantly being urged to eat more fish on health grounds..
"Well, people may need to eat fish," he says, "but there aren't enough fish in the sea to go round. People mocked me in 1975 when I said that the cod fisheries would collapse. Those critics are pretty quiet now.".
Watson's passion may be spiritual, but he abhors religion..
"Almost all religions put us at their centre. And this world isn't just about us. We are an animal like all the other creatures on earth, and we somehow think we are the most important.".
It's easy to be swept along by Watson's enthusiasm. Sea Shepherd is growing in membership, but still has only about 50,000 members worldwide, a veritable minnow compared to WWF's five million, or Greenpeace's two-and-a-half million..
But Watson is adamant that he doesn't want to emulate the larger, more corporate conservation groups. He dismisses them as "feelgood" organisations. He is equally dismissive of politicians..
"Take Ecuador," Watson observes ruefully..
"The Galapagos is a World Heritage Site and it's going down the tubes. The main island is over-run with dogs and cats, and the Navy take bribes from the illegal fishing boats. They have never arrested a single poacher. But we have, and we've confiscated thousands of illegally poached shark fins.".
Sea Shepherd's newest vessel, the black-painted Steve Irwin, is a former Scottish Fisheries Protection boat that they acquired in 2006. She's around 30 years old, and has been modified for voyages to the far north and south. The exact details of her equipment and the strength of her hull are secret..
Apart from Watson and the ship's engineer, the crew of 35 is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers. One British supporter told me that they sold their house and moved back in with their parents to fund a year as a crew member:.
"It was the best experience of my life, and if I could afford it I'd go again tomorrow.".
For now, Sea Shepherd has more volunteers than boats to crew them with, but Watson tries to make sure that everyone eventually gets a chance to help..
I ask him if people are tired of bad environmental news? Watson looks genuinely sad..
"There really isn't much good news about the environment out there," he says finally..
"And I do get called 'Cassandra' a lot. But the thing is, Cassandra's prophesies all came true.".
Documenting the purposeful mission of avant-garde wildlife defender Paul Watson, this film portrays the brave dedication of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Please see www . seashepherd . org for more information about this organization
The government has stripped the Canadian flag from a ship named after one of the country's most popular authors and conservationists, Farley Mowat. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is using the vessel to stop Japanese fleets from illegally killing endangered whales in the Antartic Whale Sanctuary.
The Canadian-registered yacht, was first detained in South Africa last year. Canada registered no complaint and refused to help. Last August, Transport Canada revoked its registration, turning the Farley Mowat into a pirate vessel. It has since failed to retain and keep new registration from another country. The Japanese government is pressuring countries not to register it. If you don't have a flag to sail under, naval law allows the crew of any ship to detain your crew and confiscate and seize your property.
Under pressure from Japan, Canada is impeding the ability of those devoted to protecting the whales Canada and Japan have become complicit in the illegal killing of whales in Antartic waters. Canadians love whales. Shame on the Canadian Government! Shame on the British Government! And shame on the pressure tactics of Japan!
For updates on the progress of the fight to stop illegal whaling click & SUPPORT:
Is there any thing there but Ice and Snow? The Arctic: cold, unforgiving, barren wasteland full of mosquitoes… Why do we need to learn more about that place?
The Arctic region is largely ignored by the citizens of southern and temperate regions and perceived as a wasteland. But in fact, this area is actually home to many incredible species of animals, and valuable natural resources. Due to the fragility of the area it is difficult to resolve how to best develop and protect the region at the same time.
Global climate change, industrial development, pollution, questionable oceanic & atmospheric activities, environmental degradation, habitat loss & big money politics are alive & well at the top of the world. Post news, give kudos, expose misinformation, & suggest peaceful solutions. There are many topics of concern, so I've started a few discussion threads with particular headings in order to make popular discussions easier to track.
Please FEEL FREE to begin additional topics. Everyone is also welcome to speculate, make anecdotal observations, question, ponder, or share artistic and philosophical expressions.
Read the C2 Code of Conduct, as the main rule is the golden one.
This week Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will meet with President George Bush. This is an excellent opportunity to resolve an issue that has separated these two countries for quite some time. The U.S. has long opposed commercial whaling, but to make a real difference President Bush must urge the Prime Minister to stop the cruelty.
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have drafted a bipartisan resolution supporting the longstanding U.S. position against commercial whaling to reinforce U.S. opposition at the upcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. Please send an email to your two federal senators right now urging them to cosponsor the Cantwell-Snowe resolution on whaling.
You can identify your U.S. Senator by going to www.congress.org. Once you have the number all you need to do is call and say: “My name is  and I am calling to urge the Senator to cosponsor the Cantwell-Snowe resolution on commercial whaling. Will the senator please sign on to this important measure?”
A few chemical companies in the United States still rely on an outdated chlorine manufacturing process that emits toxic mercury, which can eventually find its way into the fish we eat. Urge the chlorine industry to stop using mercury.
Although coal-fired power plants are the most notorious source of toxic mercury pollution to our lakes, streams and oceans, the chemical industry is just as bad. Even though non-mercury technology is widely available, a handful of chemical companies in the United States still use an outdated mercury process to make chlorine gas and lye, which are then used to make paper products, detergents, soaps and plastics.
NRDC has tested the air around some of these plants and found very high levels of mercury pollution. Much of this toxic substance winds up in our air and water and, eventually, in the fish that ends up on our dinner tables or in our tuna sandwiches. Once it's in our bodies, mercury can limit normal brain activity and nervous system functions. It is especially dangerous for developing infants and small children and can cause decreased motor skills and learning disabilities at even low levels of exposure.
What to do: Send a message urging the chlorine industry to completely eliminate mercury from its manufacturing process.
SEND YOUR MESSAGE ~ USE OUR SAMPLE TEXT BELOW OR USE YOUR OWN
Art Dungan, President The Chlorine Institute 1300 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22209 Dear Mr. Dungan,
The Chlorine Institute, a 210-member trade association, has allowed rampant mercury pollution by six U.S. member companies that insist on relying on dirty and dangerous mercury technology even though mercury-free technology is available and used widely here in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
Chlorine plants that use mercury are among the world's largest sources of mercury contamination. Air quality tests around these plants show extremely high mercury levels at most of them.
It's time for the entire chlorine industry to enter the 21st century and eliminate mercury from the chlorine manufacturing process. I urge you to deny Chlorine Institute membership to any company that will not commit to conversion away from mercury.