Whaling & Whale Watching Article:
Teens Against Whaling – Australian Youth Opposing Whaling
International Whale Conference (IWC) Anchorage, Alaska May 2007
IWC Conference Report by Ayesha Future, TEENS AGAINST WHALING Australia – July 2007
Teens Against Whaling International Whale Conference (IWC)- Alaska 2007This June, Skye Bortoli, Caitlyn Frerk and myself, the Teensagainstwhaling girls attended the IWC along with my father, Frank Future secretary of WADWA the national whalewatch association and president Steve Mitchell. Our aim was to try and stop the Japanese from slaughtering our Humpback whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary later on this year. This ongoing inhuman act of whaling has troubled me greatly from the age of 8 and still does now at age 17, prompting Skye and myself to take action into our own young hands with the support and encouragement from family and the Port Stephens community.
I am very concerned for the future of the Humpback whales that most of us consider as Australia’s for they are born in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The media is now focusing on the problems facing whales and other global issues that we currently face as a result of mankind’s mismanagement of our planet and I personally want to simply make as much of a difference as I can while I live on this earth. Teens Against Whaling wants to see whales alive for our generation and for the generations to come, coinciding with that of human’s existence.
Anchorage, Alaska was an utterly amazing place. The people we met were friendly and the Moose wandering the streets in downtown Anchorage were rather amusing, no wonder Americans expect to see Kangaroos on our city streets. We went whalewatching one freezing cold day and saw stellar sea lions a Humpback feeding and a dozen Orcas also feeding that came right up to our boat, what a sight! The food native Alaskan’s eat is based mainly upon a high protein diet, reindeer sausages, lots of caribou steak and Salmon and of course there’s a MacDonald’s on every corner. Being a vegetarian I was glad to come back home for some good tucker plus the 20 hours of daylight was a bit hard to handle.
We walked on glaciers that had melted back miles in a few years and nowhere I have ever been was global warming so evident. Al Gore’s doco “The inconvenient truth” showed two of the glaciers I walked on and both had melted back literally miles in the last 10 years. The waters that looked pristine were actually polluted by seepage from the hundreds of oilwells and virtually raw sewage from Anchorage is discharged into Cook straight with only primary treatment affecting a population of Beluga whales that have collapsed from 3,000 to less than 300 in 10 years. It is almost 20 years since the Exon Valdez hit Bligh reef and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the environment and still no compensation has been paid despite the courts fining them $2billion. 5,000 fishermen lost their livelihoods but oil hungry America under the Bush’s reign appears to have little regard for the natural environment.
Once the plenary session of the IWC began, after weeks of scientific committee meetings and lots of behind the scenes negotiating all held in the Captain Cook Hotel the media became frantic and plentiful. We were doing at least 3 radio interviews, 2 television interviews a day and a film crew who are making a Hollywood environmental movie following us around all day for a week, I guess we caused a bit of a stir! In all they were very condensed days, waking up at 7am and falling into bed at 1am after dinner!! The land of the midnight sun had us all confused and there was probably a bit of jetlag too.
Teens Against Whaling made quite an impact on the Australian government delegation team consisting of eight being Malcolm Turnbull The Environment minister, Donna Petrachenko commissioner, Andrew McNee Alternate Commissioner, Lesley Gidding Alternate Commissioner, Philip Burges Director Cetacean Policy and Recovery, Zena Armstrong Alternate Commissioner, Pam Eiser Support Staff and Dale Starr the ministers PR man.
Wheelbarrow of signatures of 40,000 people petition for commercial whaling to stop
The energy we projected and the attention and support from back home in Australia I think gave them encouragement.
The 40,000 petitions opposing whaling that we delivered to Dr William Hogarth the IWC chair in an orange wheelbarrow especially impressed Malcolm Turnbull and the 7 television stations that filmed the event.
Mr Hogarth was astounded at our dedication and persistence on the issues facing whales from the threat of the Japanese Whaling ships.
It’s very unfortunate to say that by the end of the IWC, finishing up at 5pm Thursday no discussion or decision was made on the fate of our whales leaving us feeling hurt and unsuccessful in our mission however we are still determined and unwilling to give up. The Japanese might have taken our Humpbacks off their kill list but wanted permission from the Commission to kill large whales on Japan’s Coastline and this was not negotiatable as it was affectively a return to commercial whaling. We had a big cry as all our efforts had been in vain but when we talked it through later we realised that we had helped raise attention to the situation, as many Australian’s still didn’t realise that our whales are not safe.
The stage where we are at now is to get you and the people of Australia to write to the Australian Prime Minister and the Japanese Prime Minister letting them now your opinion on the issue regarding Australia’s Humpback whales being slaughtered in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary later on this year.