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Oct 30, 2006
This message is posted as a courtesy by the Vancouver Humane Society. Forwarding this information does not necessarily imply VHS affiliation or endorsement.

Seismic tests threaten BC marine life – letters needed today

The following is an urgent message from Cetacealab, a non-profit whale research station on the north coast of BC:

A research project, called the "Batholiths" has proposed to conduct seismic testing along the inside passages of Northern and Central BC for September 2007. The vessel will tow an array 3 km long and blast sound every 20 to 30 seconds, for a 3 week period. The sound is of unimaginable power and has been compared to that of a shotgun blast MULTIPLIED by 10,000 times!!

These blasts have the potential to cause deafness or death to marine mammals, fish and invertebrates. This includes salmon, herring, octopus, squid, bears, wolves, sea lions, otters, dolphins and whales.

Our research indicates that the proposed timing of the seismic testing is the worst possible as it coincides with the peak abundance of humpback whales in our study area. The whales come into the inside channels to feed before they start their annual migration to Hawaii. Any disruptions may prevent them from successfully reaching their calving grounds or returning to these essential feeding locations next season.

Our recent research findings suggest that we have a number of pregnant female humpback whales feeding in the narrow inside channels surrounding Cetacealab. Northern Resident Orcas and Transient Orcas also frequent the area of the proposed seismic tests. Humpback whales and Orcas are considered a threatened species and are protected under the Species at Risk Act.

We have repeatedly tried to convince the scientists of the Batholiths project to abandon their plan, with no success. For this reason we would like to ask for your help.

Relevant federal Canadian authorities will allow public input until October 31st, before they make a decision whether or not they will allow this project to go ahead.

Please see the prepared letter below, which we would like you to fill in your name and send to the e-mail address which is listed in the document header. Please pass it on to your family, friends and co-workers. You may also want to personalize the letter to your own needs.

If you have further questions please contact us at (Please send copies of any replies to this address.)

For further information you can also check out these websites:

Sample letter:


Diane Fraser
Environmental Assessment Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
350 Albert Street
Ottawa ON K1A 1H5
Telephone: (613) 995-8079
Fax: (613) 943-1222
Email address:

CEAR reference number 04-01-748


Dear Diane Fraser,

The proposed Batholiths Project in Northern BC waters has come to my
attention and I would like to express my deep concern. The negative impact of extremely loud sonar sound waves on marine life is well documented, and destructive projects that cause irreversible damage such as this should not be allowed within one of the world's largest remaining intact Rainforest and marine environments.

The deafening sound transmitted by this seismic testing will threaten the health and future populations of salmon, which will be returning to their streams to spawn at this time. The delicate ecological balance of this area, known as the Great Bear Rainforest, is dependent on salmon. Species such as Grizzly Bears, Black & Spirit Bears, Wolves, and Eagles, already marginalized by human activities would suffer catastrophic consequences due
to the disruption of the salmon runs. The damage to other fish species such as Rockfish, Herring, and Halibut would be equally offensive and irreversible.

These waters are also home to recovering populations of Humpback Whales, Orcas, Stellar Sea Lions (all listed as threatened species), Dall's Porpoises, and Pacific White Sided Dolphins. All of these mammals aredependant on fish, and all are considered Residents of the area. Whale populations continue to struggle for survival along the BC coast. After
being hunted to near extinction Humpback Whales have only recently made a come back to this area within the past 15 years. It has been well documented by local villages and researchers that sightings of whales in this area are now almost a daily occurrence.

The seismic testing being proposed will utilize some of the world's loudest air guns to send shock waves through the water and sea floor bottom. The explosive blasts will have grave consequences to the marine life, potentially causing deafness and death. This is completely unacceptable to me. The fish and mammals that survive may not return to these waters again after undergoing such a large amount of distress. I highly recommend putting an end to the Batholiths Project for all of the above reasons.


*****YOUR NAME********

Imported from external blog

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Posted: Oct 30, 2006 10:52pm
Aug 11, 2006
Can the whales 'be saved' - again?
By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website, St Kitts

Humpback whales
Japan will take humpbacks soon as part of its research programme
If people care for the welfare of whales, says Leah Garces, that alone should be enough to stop hunting.

"The cruelty of whaling holds the key to stopping the pro-whaling bloc," she declared at the end of the five-day International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting in St Kitts.

"Scientific evidence presented this year confirms that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea and, therefore, that all commercial and so-called scientific whaling should cease on cruelty grounds alone.

"We believe the issue of cruelty is an unsurpassable fortress blocking any attempt to lift this moratorium."

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Ms Garces' organisation, now aims to take the cruelty message into the homes of countries where it will be heard and appreciated - indeed, where it was heard and appreciated several decades ago when it was a key factor in establishing the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

The taste of vitriol is everywhere within the IWC. Many delegates have elephant-like memories of insults traded decades ago, of deals badly done, of liaisons made and broken
Will it be heard and appreciated in the whaling nations of Japan, Norway and Iceland?

Will it be heard in the Caribbean, African and Pacific countries whose votes were crucial in the key session of this meeting, when delegates endorsed the St Kitts Declaration, a motion calling for the eventual return of commercial whaling?

Will the citizens of these countries heed the other anti-whaling messages - that our knowledge of stock sizes is not complete enough to allow resumption of commercial hunting, and that whales can generate more income through eco-tourism than they can through meat markets and restaurants?

Crucial Caribbean

With this meeting being held in the Caribbean, and with countries like St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia being Japan's most vociferous allies, there has been intensive and at times acrimonious debate over the true views of Caribbean peoples.

Before the meeting, a poll commissioned by WWF showed majorities against whaling in states which traditionally support Japan. Caribbean leaders here said the poll was rigged, that some of the people questioned were in fact tourists, a charge which WWF emphatically denies.

Caribbean environmental groups intend to re-double efforts to swing public opinion behind the anti-whalers, and against the St Kitts Declaration, which they greeted with loathing.

"We find that it is impossible, inadmissible and very retrograde to even think in that way," said Lesley Sutty of the Eastern Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness (Eccea).

Marie-Louise Felix, WWF
All the governments have a budget for their fisheries programmes, but it is never enough
Marie-Louise Felix, WWF

As to why Caribbean leaders lined up with Japan, she said: "I think there is serious influence by Japan - let's be honest with our words - with regard to certain parts of government, with regard to fisheries agencies around the world, not just in the Caribbean."

There are clearly two factors here. One is a belief that Japan has effectively bought votes in the IWC with fisheries aid - a charge which is often repeated but which Japan denies - and the other is that western nations have left a hole which Japan has plugged.

"All the [Caribbean] governments have a budget for their fisheries programmes, but it is never enough," said Marie-Louise Felix, wildlife management officer with WWF in Suriname and a former fisheries official in the Caribbean.

With the exception of one grant from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and another from Canada, she said, Caribbean countries had been unsuccessful at garnering fisheries aid from any source except Japan. European and US funding has often been sought, and regularly turned down.

"Japan has come to the assistance of Caribbean countries, and has had basically an open-door policy so the funding hasn't come with too many strings attached," she told me.

"And this has made a tremendous difference to fisheries management projects in most of the Caribbean countries."

The implication is clear, then: if western anti-whaling nations want to pick off Caribbean votes at the IWC, they need to get involved in fisheries aid. Many donate money for other issues, including poverty alleviation, good governance and health; but fisheries aid may hold the key to whaling.

Building the pressure

So what are the prospects of commercial whaling making a re-appearance?

It would need to be approved by a three-quarters majority at a future IWC meeting; and to prevent that from ever happening, environment groups, as well as pushing the cruelty message, plan to redouble their lobbying of sympathetic governments.

Some governments say they also plan to recruit other anti-whaling countries onto the commission.

But the best tactic that Japan and Norway have available may be simply to increase year after year the number of whales which they hunt - Norway commercially under a legal objection to the global moratorium, and Japan in the name of scientific research.

Whale (Getty Images)
Some delegates think the current situation is unsustainable

Increase it far enough, and the small number of nations that believe regulated commercial hunting to be less bad than the present situation could start to grow.

US whaling commissioner William Hogarth said the current situation was untenable, with numbers increasing year on year - 2,500 to be taken during 2006 - and said he thought it was a good idea to work with Japan on a system to ensure that if commercial hunting does come back, it is done on a sustainable basis.

The elements of such a system have been developed by the IWC over a 14-year period. It is called the Revised Management Scheme (RM, and sets out to calculate sustainable catch limits for various species in various locations.

Mr Hogarth's team will be under some pressure at next year's IWC meeting because quotas for subsistence hunting are due for review; and renewing the US quota for indigenous Alaskan groups will be a high priority, with explosive political potential inside the US.

Some environment groups suggest this could force the US into a compromise deal with Japan.

Having said that, the US is currently lined up four-square against any lifting of the moratorium, and is diametrically opposed to Japan on one key issue.

If and when commercial hunting is re-introduced, it wants scientific whaling to end - a position with which Japan vehemently disagrees.

"These two issues are totally unrelated," said Joji Morishita, Japan's deputy commissioner.

"Under any resource management organisation, science and research are needed; and we will not accept the linkage of the issue of the RMS and scientific whaling."

Without compromise on that, Japan is unlikely to persuade many western delegates that it is serious about keeping future commercial whaling at sustainable levels.

Echoes of the past

The taste of vitriol is everywhere within the IWC. Many delegates have elephant-like memories of insults traded decades ago, of deals badly done, of liaisons made and broken.

Undercurrents of intolerance, colonialism, and chicanery permeate the conversations; even the allegation of racism rears its ugly head with depressing regularity.

Beneath all this, though, are two basic questions: is hunting whales cruel, and are stocks big enough to stand it?

The first will surely be fought on the basis of values; the second should be capable of scientific scrutiny, though many say that financial resources are too small to do really comprehensive assessments.

For now, conservationists push the precautionary principle. And Remi Parmentier of the Varda Group, here as a special advisor to the Pew Trusts, found a real irony in Japan's current position.

"Japan is complaining about the way things have gone in the era since 1972 when the moratorium was first proposed.

"But if we conservationists had not been there at the time, successfully pushing whale conservation and the moratorium, today there would not be any scope for discussion of a resumption of commercial whaling because in all likelihood there would only be remnant populations of whales left."

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Posted: Aug 11, 2006 2:42pm


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