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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Sunday, 08 July 2012
in Earth Blog

Whaling Summit Wraps up in Panama

Last week while we were chit-chatting away about ice cream and bald eagles in celebration of the July 4thhumpback whale watching holiday we completely missed taking a look at the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) 64th annual meeting. The convention was a little less than a month long and concluded in Panama City, Panama on July 6th. 

The IWC speaks for the whales by implementating whale hunting regulations, protecting existing whale populations, and promoting herd growth.

The United States was one of eighty-nine countries present. NOAA, select staff from the State Department,  the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, the Department of the Interior and private citizens were in attendance to discuss whale conservation and policy.

According to a NOAA statement, there are two dominating viewpoints on whale conservation:  “The countries split between those that support commercial whaling and countries opposed to commercial whaling.”

“It’s incredibly challenging at times to come to agreement, but it’s a process that NOAA and our partners are totally dedicated to,” said Doug DeMaster, the U.S. commissioner to the IWC. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years, and we’ve seen everything from countries walking out of difficult discussions to consensus being reached within a single session.”

During the meeting the IWC renewed aboriginal subsistence whaling catch limits through the year 2018 for bowhead whales hunted by Alaska Natives and gray whales hunted by the Makah Tribe in Washington. The annual catch limits remain the same as they were in previous years under the advisement of the IWC Scientific Committee to maintain sustainability and to consider the cultural and nutritional needs of native tribes.

At the IWC summit the two top threats to whales were discussed: disentanglement response particularly in Argentina and Brazil where more training and education is needed to assist whales accidentally caught in nets and ship strike avoidance methods. The U.S. has reduced the number of strikes in our jurisdiction by ship speed restrictions, keeping boats out of whale birthing areas, monitoring, and continuing education and outreach.

The U.S. delegates at IWC talked about strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. The thirty year old policy is upheld by the U.S. but Japan, Iceland, and Norway disregard some of the rules and practice illegal commercial whaling.

Responsible whale watching was another popular topic as the industry continues to grow and becomes a tourist draw in coastal communities. The U.S. is the whale watching working group chair for the IWC.

“The United States looks forward to continuing its partnership with other countries on whale conservation,” added Ryan Wulff, U.S. Alternate Commissioner for the IWC.  “It is imperative that the IWC focus more of its attention on global conservation problems such as climate change, by-catch, marine debris, disentanglement, pollution and ocean noise. This is important work, and we have seen a lot of progress so far, but we intend to continue the push in this area.”

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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