Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Niue Whale Research Project team have just returned from a challenging field season in Niue which was a series of extreme highs and lows for our little team. Fiafia, Vanessa, Cara and Ben were tirelessly stalwart and managed to keep their leader in good humour throughout the setbacks. THANK YOU GUYS!
In addition to working from many different boats, the whales were very few, and the conditions averaging 20knots and over with 2m swell. The humpbacks that did come through were very skittish and 2 out of 3 were rounding out instead of fluking! We were only able to complete half of the line transect survey but I think it’s miraculous that we did achieve 130 miles of track lines in the conditions and with half the boat hours.
Whale stats: In total, over 6 weeks, we saw 45 humpbacks including vessel and land observations. Of these there were 3 cow/calf pods. We got 18 individual fluke ID’s, 3 sloughed skin samples, and 21 song recordings notably with a distinct song change brought by one individual we called Mr Curly.
We documented a new cetacean species for Niue when we had a very interesting encounter with 2 Sei whales 12 miles off shore near a sea mount. Photos attached. We also recorded the first sighting of a live sperm whale in Niue (only sighting was a standing event many years ago).
The team did multiple presentations on marine mammal biology and natural history to both the primary and high schools and got senior biology students on the water with the researchers. We also did weekly public presentations to locals and yachties at different venues. The highlight of this season was the Oma Tafua` (treasured whales) show case. Attended by 200 people and raising $1500, the night was opened by a breaching humpback in the sunset in front of the venue, Matavai Resort. Dozens of traditional dance and music groups from all around the island performed stories and songs about whales and the team presented the Fisheries Minister Pokotoa with the SPWRC award for leadership in marine mammal protection from Ocean Voices. The whole event was televised nationally multiple times.
We did weekly interviews with BCN broadcast on national news and introduced 2 whale films, What to do About Whales and The Humpback Code
Thank you Volunteers and sponsors
SO despite the setbacks the project was very successful in achieving most of its aims and we look forward to going back to ‘The Rock’ of Polynesia in 2011.
Koe kia and Monuina
<;))>< <;))>< <;))><
Program Director, Whales Alive
Project Leader, Niue Whale Research
South Pacific Whale Research Consortium
P: +64 226879050
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The IWC fails to protect Humpbacks
“We have failed the Humpbacks,” said Mick McIntyre reporting from the meeting in Agadir, Morocco. “This should never have been allowed to happen,” he said
This request has been widely criticised as various reports have shown it does not meet the requirements set out by the IWC for Aboriginal subsistence hunting,
A recent NGO report outlined the commerciality of the hunt by tracking the whale meat through supermarkets in Greenland.
Under IWC rules whale meat caught under Aboriginal Subsistence quota can only be for local consumption
“It’s become clear this is a commercial hunt,” said McIntyre, After all their great work earlier in the meeting to defeat the chair’s compromise whaling package, the IWC needed to do more to save these Humpbacks.” He said
‘This sets a terrible precedent for the IWC’ he said
This is the first time since the commercial moratorium that the IWC has authorised the killing of Humpback whales.
The meeting concludes today,
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
DAY 3 (JUNE 23, 2010)
The Whaling deal is dead
· The moratorium on commercial whaling remains in place today as the member countries of the IWC rejected a compromise whaling proposal.
· Two years of secret discussions followed by another day and a half of secret Commissioners’ negotiations in Agadir ended with the proposal not getting enough support.
This is a great victory for the whales
Had this compromise agreement been approved by the IWC, not only would the moratorium be lifted, but the abusive activities of Japan, Norway and Iceland would have received the stamp of approval from the IWC.
(Of course it is a hollow victory because as we speak the Japanese are in the North pacific killing the largest brained creature on the planet (Sperm whales) and in November will steam down to the Antarctic to take endangered Fin whales and Minke whales, but today’s victory was essential)
· In conclusion the chair indicated that The Future of the IWC agenda item will be kept open,
· This was to allow countries to decide what’s next regarding the “Future of the IWC”
· Minister Garrett and the entire OZ delegation deserve special recognition for their efforts to block this mad proposal,
· In addition the Latin block, Brazil, Chile, Argentina etc. were fabulous also.
· Obviously NZ and the USA have some major explaining to do about their promotion of this whaling proposal.
Other Agenda Items
· Whale Populations
Surprise, surprise the Scientific Committee still does NOT have an agreed abundance estimate for Antarctic minke whales.
(Which completely makes a mockery of Japan’s lethal research in the Antarctic)
There are two estimates that are currently miles apart
BUT both estimates show incredible decline in the Southern Minke population, (a HUGE concern)
A real worry is that there is talk about averaging out the two conflicting estimates if they can’t reconcile???????
· Safety at Sea
The Japanese wheeled out a PowerPoint on the “violent” attacks from Sea Shepherd
Interestingly they showed the video of the sinking of the Ady Gill, despite the incident still being investigated by the NZ and OZ governments.
Also Sir Geoffrey Palmer noted in his intervention that he was not comfortable talking about the Ady Gill incident as he did not want to unduly influence the ongoing trial of the New Zealand citizen Peter Bethune, who he said was sitting in a Japanese jail still waiting to go to trial.
The Japanese also applied pressure on the Netherlands (where the Sea Shepherd boats are registered)
The Netherlands responded by saying that they were overhauling their laws on ship registration,
It will be interesting to see whether this affects Sea Shepherds ability to register to the Netherlands.
· Southern Ocean Research Partnership (SORP)
Minister Garrett and the OZ delegation hosted reception at the end of the day’s meetings to highlight the research from the first SORP Antarctic cruise.
Very Important to recognize Australia’s huge investment in non-lethal research.
· Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling
Unfortunately Greenland’s request for Humpbacks is still on the table
And today they put forward their latest proposal.
As NGO reports have repeatedly shown the Greenland hunt has many commercial elements to it and therefore this latest request for Humpbacks must be rejected.
· The work continues
So at the end of Day 3 we can reflect on the good work that went into defeating the whaling package
We also know that the work continues tomorrow,
Making sure that the IWC continues to move forward as a conservation Convention
BUT also recognize that the IWC still remains unable to stop Japan using article 8 to conduct “so called” scientific whaling !!!
More on that tomorrow,
I’m off to bed,
Thanks for all the messages of support
Whales Alive Forever
Director, Whales Alive
Follow the Whales Alive BLOG
IWC live feed can be found at
ECO daily publication
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
DAY 2 (JUNE 22, 2010)
DAY 2 for the Commissioners was spent behind closed doors
trying to hatch a deal for the whalers
Day 2 for the rest of us was spent trying to ascertain what was going on behind the closed doors, what the future of the world’s whales was going to look like. (SEE IWC ISSUED PRESS RELEASE BELOW)
· A press conference was held by WSPA, Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals and NOAH – for animal rights, highlighting the cruelty of whaling. Minister Garrett, spoke on the WSPA/Optus ‘Give whales a voice’ campaign.
· An event hosted by AVAAZ where Minister Garrett accepted an online petition signed by over one million people calling for an end to whaling, sign the petition
· Meanwhile publicity over new evidence of bribery and corruption at the IWC continues to circulate,
· This new evidence gives a member country of the IWC a perfect opportunity to raise this on the floor of the IWC, an opportunity to change the rules of procedure, to expose and eliminate this corruption.
IWC 62 plenary begins again at 0900 tomorrow (Wednesday)
We will no doubt see the latest ‘WHALING DEAL’ then.
Director, Whales Alive
FOLLOW THE WHALES ALIVE BLOG
Japanese vote buying is the buzz of whaling meet
(AP) – 3 hours ago
AGADIR, Morocco — Accusations that Japan uses aid money and personal favors to buy votes have quietly circulated for years around the International Whaling Commission, which oversees the conservation of the whales that Japan regularly hunts.
Now, a sting operation by a London newspaper that secretly filmed officials from six developing countries negotiating for bribes has brought such allegations into the open, at least in the corridors of the commission's annual meeting.
The Sunday Times of London secretly filmed the officials talking with reporters who portrayed themselves as emissaries of a Swiss billionaire wanting anti-whaling votes at the IWC's meeting in Morocco.
The six indicated that any offer from the Swiss would have to top what Japan already gives them. Tanzania's top delegate was quoted as saying he had accepted trips to Japan, where he was offered free "massages" in his hotel room, which he said he declined.
For some of Japan's harshest critics, the Sunday Times catching officials on tape acknowledging they received benefits from Japan was proof of undue influence on the 88-nation commission, which in its most important meeting in decades is considering a proposal for a 10-year suspension of the 1986 ban on commercial whaling.
IWC PRESS RELEASE FROM TODAY (22/6/10)
includes the following:
Negotiation sessions among ten groups took place during yesterday and are continuing today. The groups involved are the African nations, the Buenos Aires Group (of Latin American countries), the European Union, Iceland, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway, small island developing states and two further groups – one comprising Australia, Israel, Monaco, New Zealand, Oman, and the USA, and the other comprising Denmark, the Russian Federation and Switzerland.
The groups reported to a private meeting of Commissioners this morning. All groups reported that their discussions so far had been very useful, had lead to a fuller understanding of respective views and been conducted in a very cordial and respectful manner. The opportunity for all countries to engage in negotiations was welcomed.
The Commission will reconvene in plenary tomorrow at 09.00 when a fuller report on progress with negotiations will be made and discussed. An NGO session is planned for the afternoon providing an additional opportunity for their input. It is anticipated that negotiations will continue during the week.
Monday, June 21, 2010
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
DAY 1 report
Greetings from Agadir, Morocco,
IWC 62 opened this morning in Agadir, Morocco against a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and the local Moroccan dancers amongst confusion and/or anticipation over the future of the IWC.
The confusion and/or anticipation over
· will the IWC accept or reject the Chairs compromise proposal
(or more commonly known as the 10 year whaling free for all)
· Will Australia stay strong in their opposition to this compromise
· Will USA and NZ continue to sell out the whales by promoting this10 year whaling deal?
· Will Japan walk out of the IWC is the whaling deal is rejected
· Will Greenland /Denmark con the commission (and the EU) into an additional aboriginal quota of 10 Humpbacks?
· Will the IWC finally act on the vote buying corruption (following a series of exposes by the Sunday Times in the UK)
Well didn’t get much of a chance to find out
After the opening formalities the Acting Chair Anthony Liverpool (Antigua and Barbuda) “suspended” the meeting until Wednesday!!!
To allow for the Commissioners to meet behind closed doors (away from public scrutiny?!) to try and agree on the compromise proposal (whaling deal)
NZ and USA were continuing to lead the cause to try and find agreement on the whaling deal (how did it get to this ?)
So the meeting is now being held behind closed doors and a DEAL is being struck, will it succeed?
Well we have to be vigilant and make sure that enough countries vote against this shameful whaling package. Make no mistake this DEAL would spell the end of the Moratorium
And once we lose the moratorium it will take generations to stop commercial whaling again.
So hopefully at the end of tomorrow’s closed session we will know where the proposal stands.
And perhaps the meeting can resume in the public domain, with civil society participating.
Director, Whales Alive
Follow the Whales Alive BLOG
IWC live feed can be found at
ECO daily publication
Whaling talks suspended as deadlock continues
By environment reporter Sarah Clarke
June 21st Updated 28 minutes ago
Within an hour of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) opening in Morocco, official talks were suspended for two days.
Representatives from more than 80 nations had gathered for the annual IWC meeting, set to be the most controversial in years.
But the deputy chair of the IWC has called for private talks to break the deadlock.
Australia is concerned by the development and says it "shuts down the official process which has been underway for two years".
The sticking point remains over a proposal to overturn a 24-year ban on commercial whaling.
Under the IWC draft proposal, which Australia is opposing, Japan would be allowed to catch 120 whales a year in its coastal waters.
Mick McIntyre from Whales Alive says the deal has split the anti-whaling nations.
"This is a deal that's being supported by what we once called our allies," he said.
"Pro-conservation countries like the US and New Zealand - how did this happen?"
Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett says the Australian Government cannot accept the compromise.
"Australia must be successful in opposing this shabby deal," he said.
"If such a deal were to go through, Australians would need to resign themselves to watching the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean year after year over the next decade."
Thursday, June 17, 2010
International Whaling Commission meeting to decide the fate of the world’s whales
Media release 00/01
17 June 2010
A proposal due to be considered at the 62nd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next week would effectively lift the moratorium on commercial whaling. This would take us back to the dark days of commercial whaling, says Mick McIntyre, Director of Whales Alive.
“It is time that the IWC started protecting whales and not the whaling industry,” he said.
An IWC moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since 1986. However Japan has successfully exploited a loophole in this ban to carry on its spurious so-called ‘scientific’ whaling program.
Since 1986 Japan, Norway and Iceland have slaughtered 35,000 whales.
“Governments are being asked to consider this new proposal which would legitimise whaling and give the whalers everything they could wish for and would see whales cruelly butchered on Australia’s doorstep in the IWC whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean. It is incomprehensible that the member nations of the IWC would allow this proposal to succeed,” Mr McIntyre said today as he left Sydney today to attend the IWC meeting in Agadir.
“In return all Japan need do is agree to an IWC monitoring program. There is no long-term commitment to phase out whaling. The slaughter will continue unabated. Accepting this proposal would be a tragic day for whales and everything Australians believe in,” said Mr McIntyre.
Recently the Australian government has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in a bid to stop it from using the legal loophole to whale in the Southern Ocean. According to documents submitted by Australia to the ICJ, Japan is allegedly breaching the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research.
Mick McIntyre is the director of the Australian conservation group, Whales Alive a non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection and celebration of Whales and their fragile marine habitat. He has attended every IWC meeting as an observer since 1993.
McIntyre is available for comment on a daily basis direct from the IWC meeting in Agadir, Morocco which runs from June 21 – June 25.
Please contact Michael Young in Sydney, 0410 408 492
Mick in Morocco +212 6506229432
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Japanese Whalers to be Prosecuted
28 May 2010
The Announcement Today By The Australian Federal Government That It Will Take Japan To The International Court Of Justice In The Hague In An Attempt To End Its Barbaric Practice Of Whaling, Is Good News, Says Mick McIntyre, Director Of Australian Based Whales Alive.
“For years Japan has exploited a loophole at the IWC which has allowed it to continue the barbaric and inhumane slaughter of these magnificent creatures in the Southern Ocean under its so-called spurious ‘scientific whaling program’, which in reality is commercial whaling. Japan will at last be called to account for its outrageous behavior,” said McIntyre.
“Action needed to be taken outside the IWC which was gridlocked on this issue, “said Macintyre.
The Australian Labour Party went to the electorate in 2007 with a promise to take Japan to court to end whaling, a promise which is now fulfilling.
“Japan has shown a lack of good faith in stopping this barbaric practice and the Australian Government knows that Australians do not want to see any more images of Japanese whalers in action, such as we saw in 2008 when photos were published of a minke whale and its calf being hauled aboard a Japanese whaler,” said McIntyre.
Whales Alive applauds this move by the Australian Government to bring Japan to the International Court of Justice to account for its behavior.
Mick McIntyre has attended every International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting since 1993 and will be attending this year’s meeting in June at Agadir, Morocco.
McIntyre Is Available For Interview Call 0408 884 999, Or Michael Young 0410 408 492
Thursday, May 27, 2010
28 May 2010
GOVERNMENT INITIATES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST JAPANESE WHALING
Australia will initiate legal action in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Japanese ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean.
The decision underlines the Government’s commitment to bring to an end Japan’s program of so-called ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean. It also demonstrates our commitment to do what it takes to end whaling globally.
The Australian Government has not taken this decision lightly. We have been patient and committed in our efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to this issue. We have engaged in intensive discussions in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and bilaterally with Japan.
We have enjoyed the support of many other IWC members who share Australia's concerns and goals. We commend countries of the European Union, the Buenos Aires group of Latin American countries, and others who have joined with Australia in highlighting, in particular, the necessity for phasing out whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.
But to date, the response of the whaling countries has not been positive. Recent statements by whaling countries in the Commission have provided Australia with little cause for hope that our serious commitment to conservation of the world’s whales will be reflected in any potential IWC compromise agreement.
The Government has always been firm in our resolve that if we could not find a diplomatic resolution to our differences over this issue, we would pursue legal action. The Government’s action fulfils that commitment.
Australia will remain closely engaged in the IWC process and will continue to work hard in the lead up to and at the IWC meeting in June to pursue our objectives While an outcome at that meeting which meets Australia’s fundamental conservation objectives is slim, the Government will continue to engage constructively in the diplomatic effort.
Australia and Japan share a comprehensive strategic, security and economic partnership. We share a substantial commercial relationship built over many decades, growing strategic and security linkages, and work together closely in key international forums such as the G20, the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and APEC.
The Government’s action today reflects a disagreement in one element of a relationship that is deep, broad and multi-dimensional.
Both Australia and Japan have agreed that, whatever our differences on whaling, this issue should not be allowed to jeopardise the strength and the growth of our bilateral relationship.
At the same time, the Australian Government will keep working tirelessly to achieve an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean, and we will use all legal and diplomatic avenues to achieve our goal.
A formal application will be lodged in The Hague early next week.