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BRANDING OF SEALS ON MACQUARIE ISLAND
I have been critical of
the Japanese government for their destruction of whales "in the name of
scientific research" but I fear that we Australians have to clean up our
own backyard also. The seals on Macquarie Island, halfway between Tasmania
and the Antarctic continent, have been subjected to inhumane abuse since
the devastation of their population in the early 19th century for their
oil. This ended after several decades of cruelty, and the animals were
left in peace for a while - until it was time to conduct "scientific research"
on their habitat and population. For the past half century, marine, bird
and terrestial life at Macquarie Island hve been harrassed in the name
of "scientific research". In 2001, the public became aware of a horrific
process of hot-iron branding of seals, with large numbers several inches
high. The process had commenced in 1993, and thousands of seals had been
branded in the eight years. The injuries to most of the animals were
quite horrific. A public outcry put a stop to the barbaric practice. Now,
according to a recent television program, the seals are again subjected
to harrassment, in the name of "scientific research"; not by hot-iron branding,
but by intrusion into their habitat, and by fixing tracking transmitters
on some seals by a strong adhesive to their back. Images of festering flesh
after the transmitters have sheared off was most disturbing - and I wager
that there is not a proceedure to remove the transmitter after its usefulness.
It appears that Dr. Mark Hindell of the Zoology Department of the University
of Tasmania heads the "scientific research" program, with the objective
of studying the supposed decline in the seal population on the island.
It appears that "research expeditions" have been going to Macquarie Island
annually and never stopped after the hot-iron branding attrocity. As the
reporter quite rightly noted, perhaps the seal population has diminished
due to unwanted attention from scientists and graduates who were shown
to use long sticks to beat off animals, and just their mere presence is
enough to upset such a habitat. If the university would like to listen,
I can advise how I can help their research budget. Give me the $100,000
that it costs (at least) to undertake such research, and I will give you
a simple, one page, one paragraph conclusion - if you want the popultion
to increase - leave them alone. Better still, use the money saved to undertake
serious research that may benefit our waters - the Grey Nurse needs a bit
of help at the moment.
For further details, some
of which you will find disturbing, see the Tasmanian Conservation Trust's
website, specifically their October 2001 Newsletter at http://www.tct.org.au/n17c.htm.
FATE OF THE CERBERUS IN PORT PHILLIP
Archaeology Association of Victoria reports in their informative newsletter
that yet another study is underway on the future of the Cerberus off Black
Rock, Port Phillip. There is some interest now in restoring, or at least
protecting from furthr deterioration, this world unique vessel. Unfortunately,
the cost would b well over $2 million, and as it is Sandringham Council
property, they certainly would not have the funds to do it, and will need
support from state and federal governments. I remembr thirty years ago,
historian/author Peter Williams said it must be restored, but no action
was taken. In the early 1980s, I took author Cliv Cussler to Black Rock
to see the vessel. He was amazed at what he saw, and was prticularly interested
in seeing it preserved because he had found the Monitor, a not dissimilar
vessel. The Cerberus is named after the three-haded dog in Greek mythology,
and she was certainly a dog of a ship. But her historic importance cannot
be underestimated. (2002)
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Those of you who have had
the pleasure of diving Papua New Guinea and meeting the remarkable indigenous
people will be saddened to hear that although the government was 'seriously'
looking at curtailing further forrest logging in the country, they have
accepted an offer of several billions dollars to log no less than five
million acres of old growth forrest. When you are strapped for cash, you
have to be practical, but this is a terrible act, and other countries,
more wealthy than PNG, should assist them in order to protect the world
environment. No need to say who has dangled the carrot, or should I say,
the chili - Malaysia of course, whose government and major business interests
couldn't give a damn about the environment - in someone elses country.
The PNG government however deny that they have issued more logging licenses.
And indeed, this is possibly so. What they have done is issue 'road building
permits' into the forrests. This allows the 'road builders' to clear a
pathway of many hundreds of metres wide and hundreds of kilometres long,
meandering through the forrest, on the pretext that the 'road' will assist
the ingigenous people in reaching th coast. What do the indigenous people
think. Who knows, as nobody hs bothered to ask them. (2002)
Did you know that 'scientists'
in Japan have added a gene from a particular jellyfish to the DNA
of a Zebra fish to make it glow in the dark. This will increase its value
as an aquarium fish. I suppose such manipulations were bound to happen,
and we can 'look forward' to a range of 'weird and wonderful' genetically
modified fish to suit out amusement. This would not be allowed if the subject
was an animal, but with fish - well, they just dont matter do they? After
all, it is nothing for us to see on television a fish flapping about in
the bottom of a boat in its last death throes, or a harmless marlin strung
up for sporting pleasure. Over the next ten years we will see a surge in
'modified' sea creatures, simply for our amusement. (I see also that the
Australian Museum is going to clone a Tasmanin Tiger. Well, that will be
fun for the scientists, and no doubt a great achievement if you believe
in such things. Watch out for the fascinating litigation when their offspring
end up in the wild, doing damage to property and person. Wont the lawyers
have fun with this). (2002)
GREY NURSE SITUATION. MISUNDERSTANDING?
To give you some idea of
the stupidity and incompetence that the concerned public have to deal with,
consider these quotes from the NSW Director of Fisheries, Mr Steve Dunn
on ABC Radio, 28 May, 2002, regarding the Grey Nurse Sharks.
"There is only anecdotal
evidence of the number of Grey Nurse Sharks with hooks in them."
Here he chooses to totally
ignore the four years of data collection undertaken by his own department.The
fact is that on Sunday 26-05-02 of the thirty-two Gray Nurse Sharks on
the Pinnacle off Forster, twenty-six had hooks in them.
"It is naive to believe
that banning fishing in areas will stop them getting hooked."
How else are they getting
hooked? Are they doing it themselves? What a ridiculous comment.
"We really dont know
the numbers of the population (of the Grey Nurse Sharks) and whether the
population is increasing or decreasing."
Here he directly contadicts
the Overview ot the NSW Draft Recovery Plan, quote from this document,
"Their abundance in NSW waters has declined significantly in recent decades."
"We have to educate people
to stop catching them in the first place."
And thats true; but how
naieve. How does he propose to so this? I thought we establish laws so
that people knew their legal responsibilities and acted in accord for the
benefit of the society in which they live.
time has passed.
Is this what protection of our marine
species is all about?
Grey Nurse shark with large
steel hook and line embedded
taken at Seal Rocks, NSW.
the name of sport!!
and have them email you
the pdf file Extinction for Grey Nurse Shark.pdf
This is a most disturbing
report and not at all pleasant to read.
Also contact Ron Harding
or see www.diveforster.com.au
for further details.
Contact the NSW Minister
for Fisheries, and the Premier, demanding the end of fishing in prime Grey
Contact Threatened Species
Unit (Grey Nurse Shark)
NSW Fisheries, Private Bag
1, Nelson Bay, NSW, 2315. Fax: (02) 4916 3880
And request their Draft
Grey Nurse Recovery Plan.
And place a written, or
on line submission
Save the Grey Nurse from
extinction - we can do it if we have the courage and compassion. Submission
must be made no later than 28 June 2002 - but it may still help to voice
Further Grey Nurse links:
Information regarding the
consultation process and the Discussion Paper can be viewed at:
The Recovery Plan for Grey
Nurse Sharks in Australia can be found at:
HYPOCRACY OF THE JAPANESE WHALING LOBBY.
The Japanese whaling lobby
have opposed the right for the indiginous people of Alaska, the Eskimos,
and other indigenous peoples, to take whales for food, on the grounds that
it is against "their principles". What absolute bloodyminded hypocracy
The following extracts from
The Age newspaper (without permission, but with respect), gives you some
idea of the hypocracy of the whole whaling situation.
HARPOON DIPLOMACY AS JAPAN
TAKES A BEATING
By Shane Green, Tokyo correspondent
for The Age . May 24 2002
Eventually, the obvious and
most important question came. For the best part of eight hours, Japan had
brought the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission to a
halt, blocking an agreement over quotas for subsistence whaling by aboriginal
communities. British Fisheries Minister Eliot Morley, who endured the session,
went so far as to say that Tokyo had gone for the "nuclear option"
of wrecking the workings of the IWC. As the issue developed yesterday,
the Eskimos of Alaska and the Russian Chukotka people probably felt
the same way when, for the first time in 70 years, they were denied the
right to their whale catch after Japan forced a vote.
So then to the main question.
Why, in the face of such hostile international reaction, did Japan persist
in its efforts to resume commercial whaling? If Japan's Joji Morishita
paused at all before answering, it was only for a second. "From Japan's
point of view," he said, "this is an issue of principle."
And with those simple words,
the official from Japan's Fisheries Agency answered the question
that has perplexed most of the Western world, countries that have opposed
Japan's relentless attempts to lift the two-decade ban on commercial whaling.
There has been much talk
of cultural differences, and in part, they are important. But in essence
it comes down to a principle for Japan. For a principle, also read honour,
and even loss of face. In money terms, the world's second largest economy
has little to lose. At best, there are about 500 jobs depending on Japan's
"scientific" hunt of close to 600 whales a year. But as Mr Morishita explained,
this isn't about protecting what was left of the nation's whaling industry.
If Japan allowed what it believed to be a "gross neglect" of international
law and science to proceed, it would create a precedent in a world that
increasingly relies on international law. Mr Morishita's answer goes a
long way to explaining Tokyo's consistent stand at each meeting of the
commission and why it it is prepared to take on opposition led by Australia,
New Zealand, the United States and Britain.
Japan remains Australia's
biggest export destination, and at most levels, Canberra does all it can
to strengthen the ties. Yet when it comes to whaling, we remain divided.
So it was this week when Australia and the other anti-whaling nations faced
off against Japan and the pro-whaling nations in the annual, week-long
festival of power politics, good and bad science and powerful emotion.
Japan has been the host country for the whaling commission conference,
and pointedly chose Shimonoseki, the former commercial whaling port in
far western Japan, which still earns about 200 million yen a year from
the country's "scientific" whaling program.
The Japanese made the most
of being on home, whale-friendly turf. In a small tent outside the commission's
conference, Japanese Whaling Association members wore T-shirts bearing
messages such as "Whales increase, fisheries decrease, people are in trouble".
This is Japan's "scientific" case - whales are eating the fish that humans
need. Whale meat was also available from the tent.
It was the way the numbers
stacked up on the conference floor rather than the whale-meat tent outside
that mattered. In the lead-up to the conference, there was talk that Tokyo
might get a simple majority. To lift the ban on commercial whaling, it
needed three-quarters of the votes. But a simple majority would have
enabled it to influence the proceedings of the commission. The first few
ballots demonstrated clearly that it was still a few votes short. Conservation
groups had talked up Japan's efforts at vote-buying through aid. A late
addition to the conference was that great whaling nation Mongolia,
landlocked as it is.
As it turned out, Mongolia
was indeed pro-whaling. But had they sold out to Japan? "Time and again,
we are told about this, as if Japan bought us," said Bold Suh-Ochir, of
Mongolia's Foreign Ministry. "Time and again, I answer them that this participation
question in the IWC is not on sale." The oceans were the common heritage
of mankind, said Mr Bold. Other landlocked nations such as Austria and
Switzerland were also members. Of course, Japan and Mongolia had a "comprehensive
partnership", he said. "We consult each other and, of course, support each
There is indignation and
outrage among the alleged "bought" nations. Taking US President George
Bush's cue, this week they named the anti-whaling nations, including Australia,
the "axis of intolerance". "What we're seeing in this organisation is that
a few countries who have a tremendous amount of influence in the international
community are trying to dictate exactly how decision-making is done in
the organisation," said Daven Joseph, a powerful orator from Antigua and
Barbuda. "It's being done in a way in which small, vulnerable countries
are being railroaded. Our views are not being tolerated, our views are
not being heard, and as a result of that, there is a high degree of intolerance
that is being shown by those countries," he said. His country and five
other small east Caribbean states are among the pro-whaling bloc.
While denying they have been bought, they also make no secret of what Japanese
aid is doing for their nations. In a publication for the conference, they
reveal that Japan has contributed $US200 billion to their nations.
At the very least, this sort
of commitment would certainly make these nations well disposed towards
Tokyo. It also demonstrates that this isn't simply about whales, but more
complex questions about what the aid does for developing nations. Japan,
too, reacts angrily to suggestions of vote-buying. "Just try to find a
developing country that doesn't receive aid from Japan," says famed whaling
commission member Masayuki Komatsu.
Yet there was at least one
Caribbean state not always pro-Tokyo. On the vote on the plan by Australia
and New Zealand for a South Pacific whale sanctuary, St Vincent and the
Australia and New Zealand
didn't get the required two-thirds majority, but the 24-16 vote in favour,
with five abstentions, made both countries happy, securing an extra
four votes on last year.
But for the anti-whaling
nations, any celebrations were muted. Japan's move to force the vote on
the whale quotas for the Eskimos and Chukotka showed that even without
a simple majority it could still deliver what many countries described
as a "black day" for the IWC. The quotas are supported by the anti-whaling
nations because they are vital to the survival of these communities. It
may seem perplexing that Japan should stop the catching of whales, until
taken in the context of the commission's decision earlier to deny Japan's
coastal communities the right to catch 50 minke whales. For Tokyo, it is
all a matter of principle.
LONG VOYAGE TO PROTECT
THE WHALE (THE AGE editorial, Thursday, 23 May, 2002)
Australia should continue
to press for a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific.
A Japanese commissioner to
the International Whaling Commission, Masayuki Komatsu, criticised Australia
and New Zealand this week for not giving up on their proposal to create
a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific. The latest IWC meeting at Shimonoseki,
Japan, was the third time the countries had tried to create the sanctuary;
it was also the third time the proposal failed to win the two-thirds
majority required. After the defeat (24 nations voted for the plan, 16
voted against and five abstained) Mr Komatsu rhetorically asked: "How many
times does this proposal have to be defeated before they'll get the point
the IWC was never intended to be a protectionist organisation?"
The commission was set up
under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which
was signed in 1946. The purpose of the convention was to provide for the
proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly
development of the whaling industry.
However, the complete protection
of certain species and the designation of specified areas as whale sanctuaries
are also part of the IWC's duties, as is the compilation of catch reports
and other statistical and biological'records. As whales become more endangered,
the IWC' s role as a conservation body has become more important. A moratorium
on commercial whaling has been in place since 1986; the industry only continues
to exist where the international agreement is ignored. Norway refuses to
accept the ban and has been whaling since 1993. Japan undertakes "scientific"
whaling expeditions in the north Pacific and Antarctica; the meat is sold
in Japanese supermarkets and restaurants. This year Japan ignored the commercial
ban and imported cheaper whale meat from Norway in an attempt to revive
a taste for it among young Japanese. This year, too,. Iceland - another
pro- whaling nation - was defeated in its bid to rejoin the IWC without
signing up moratorium.
It is important that Australia
and New Zealand not give up their attempts to create a- South Pacific sanctuary;
certainly their adversaries in the IWC appear determined to continue lobbying
for a return to commercial whaling. The fact that landlocked Mongolia .
has recently joined the commission, as well as small, remote countries
such as Cape Verde and Palau - all of them reportedly pro-whaling - has
led to accusations that the Japanese are buying votes. The accusations
have been denied, but the controversy suggests that the fight to make the
seas safe for whales is far from over. A South Pacific whale sanctuary,
extending from the equator to the Southern Ocean sanctuary and east to
Pitcairn Island, would allow the region's great whale populations, which
remain seriously depleted, to recover. We hope the bid succeeds at next
year's IWC meeting in Berlin.
And here's a thought...
from Letters to the Editor, The Age, Thursday, 23 May, 2002
The Japanese Government
has been sending a message that there is no difference between eating lamb
meat and whale meat. There is a very big difference in the cruelty involved.
If the only way we could have a steak was by harpooning a cow, then letting
it drag around the paddock for several minutes before it died, most Australians
would become vegetarians.
Vincent Serventy, Pearl
Is this perhaps the same
(Dr) Vincent Serventy, one of Australia's most dedicated and brilliant
naturalists and authors.
(Thanks to Steve Bird for
bring my attention to som of these matters.)
JAPANESE WHALING DEBATE.
One of our clients contacted
us recently and commented on a documentary that he had seen on TV some
time ago, on the Japanese whaling industry. He said that the Japanese were
extremely (and uncharacteristically) frank about it all. They showed the
camera crew through the ‘research area' in a factory vessel (sorry research
vessel), a very tiny room in a huge ship. However, the area where they
break down the carcass and process the meat it was huge!!. The Japanese
government minister responsible for whaling basically said that no one
really considers the activity necessary ("nobody really eats whale much
anymore"), but in true Japanese style said that they do it as a symbolic
act to show the western world that they can't be pushed around - and to
hold onto an icon of 'japaneseness'. My client related the attitude of
the Japanese (government) to their inability to apologise for crimes committed
during and pre the Pacific War.
DO I HAVE MUCH SYMPATHY FOR PENGUINS"
An article in The Herald
and Weekly Times (24 October 2001), by fishing writer Steve Cooper, amusingly
titled, "Sorting fact from fantasy", raises some issues to which I invite
comment. Mr Cooper immediately destroys his credibility by an attack
on "greenies". Considering the problems of our troubled world at the moment,
I would have thought that such emotive generalisations were no longer 'politically
correct' and certainly not warranted from a responsible journalist, but
that merely sets Mr Cooper's credentials; it is his "facts from fantacy"
that concern me, his comment on marine life through his 'observations'.
Mr Cooper states (and I
do not write this out of context):
"If man is the most destructive
creature on Earth - as some claim - then the seal is equally destructive
in its environment."
Mr Cooper waffles on to
say that seals will take a fish, "toss them around", and then dive down
for another, infering that the seal wantonly destructs for play, not necessarily
for food. He is concerned that the seals of south-eastern Australia take
448,000 tons of fish each year - compared to the combined commercial and
recreational catch of 7000 tons. (He speaks of culling and harvesting seals
but that is a separate issue on which he does not dwell). He is concerned
that seals have diminished a penguin colony (at Montague Island), noteing
that the decrease in penguins was "in proportion to the increase in seals".
"Of course, the seals might
not be feasting on the penguins; perhaps they are just killing them for
the sake of it"."Nor do I have much sympathy for the penguins. They also
kill indiscriminantly. I have seen penguins swim around live baits, kill
the baitfish, and then move, and kill another, with no attempt made to
eat the dead fish".
Now on a roll, Mr Cooper
vents his frustrations on other marine life.
"Swans are another annoyance.
Go to any estuary or bay where swans aare nesting and feeding and check
out the weed rotting along the shoreline. Many people blame commercial
netting for this, but swans are a major culprit as they pull the seagrasses
out from the seabed.".
"... and what of cormorants,
or shags, and pelicans? These are birds that some claim eat more than their
bodyweight in fish every day and will quite literally gorge themselves
on fish until they aare too heavy to fly".
He ends with an emotional
and confrontational comment, with, I can only presume, a measure of sarcasm.
"But of course, it is anglers
who do all the damage. We tear out the weed, destroy fish stocks and endanger
wildlife ... at least according to the greens. I fuilly support protection
of the environment, but I do get a bit sick of the anti-fishing lobby groups
who make claims based on false perceptions".
False percentions, eh Mr
I welcome comment on the
matters raised by Mr Cooper, in particular the assertions that seals and
penguins kill for pleasure. And would a seal take penguin? Email
Peter Stone, 30 October,
WHALES - THE 'COCKROACHES OF THE SEA'
JAPAN BRIBES THE THIRD
That the Japanese goverment
continues to condone the killing of whales is bad enough - but they seem
to treat the rest of the world as complete morons in their naive attempt
to justify such killings. Masayuki Komatsu, "a leading diplomat" has publicly
stated that the MInke whales are "... the cockroaches of the sea. There
are too many and they are swimming too quick.They are sinking many
ships." This is obviously absurd, but it demonstrates two things
- firstly, that the Japanese are trying new strategies of argument as their
"killing for scientific research" is gaining little credibility; and secondly,
that the Japanese seem to treat the rest of the world with disdain, and
superiority of their own rightousness - just as they did fifty years ago.
To add to my personal condemnation of their atitude, they are now bribing
third world countries, members of the International Whaling Commission,
by offers of aid if they vote Japan's way - or elimination of aid if they
already receive it. Komatsu's response, "In order to get appreciation of
Japan's position... that is natural that we must do ... there is nothing
wrong". Furthermore, Komatsu taunts the US and Australia by implying that
we have a military power, suggesting that we would use threat of force
to get our way with the smaller nations. "You may dispatch your military
power to East Timor." What on earth is this man talking about? I condemn
the Japanese government for what they are doing to the whales, but moreso
for their lies, bribes, and arrogance.
Peter Stone, Australia.
13 August 2001. In a recent
newspaper article it was reported that:
Japanese whaler's received
a hero's welcome when they returned to port from a three month "scientific"
hunt with 158 whale carcases that will be sold as gourmet meat aand blubber.
Government officials presented bouquets to the 180 crew of the Nisshin
Maru, the last of a six-vessel fleet to return from a controversial; hunt
in the Pacific.
To justify their blantant
disregard of conservation issues, the Japanese head of the fisheries agency,
Yoshiaki Watanabe, said that:
We are committed to continue
the whaling program because our research benefits the marine resources
of the entire world.
What a load of rubbish.
Why do the Japanese continue to taunt the rest of the world with their
ignorant and condescending attitude? Try writing to the Japanese consulate
in your country and ask them for a copy of this research that is so benefical
to the world.
I'VE KILLED A SHARK
The Melbourne Herald
Sun reported that a record catch had been hooked off Nelson Bay - a
hammerhead shark "believed to be the largest ever caught". The 358 kg,
4m "monster" was caught by 43 year old angler Tony Eastwood of Broken Bay
near Sydney. Eastwood posed triumphantly with his prize - "a great start
to the NSW interclub game fishing tournament". "It took just 45 minutes
to reel in the shark but ten people to drag the catch on to the boat."
I am sure that most divers would like to congratulate Mr Eastwood for not
hiding behind his doubtful intelligence. How any resonable person could
derive any form of pleasure in killing any living creature for the sake
of sport is beyond me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if those who kill for pleasure
just take a good look at their children and ask themselves if they are
doing the right thing. On the other hand, rather than attempt to instill
some intelligence into testosterone-blown people like Eastwood, it may
be simpler to hang them by their testicles next to their "prize".
2 March 1999 (Previously
included on the Dive Australia page). Peter Stone.
Conservation and the protection
of the sea and the creatures within it is given a high profile by all western
governments, but when it comes to genuine protection which may cost loss
of revenue or may upset the business interests of the countries leaders,
such expressed concerns are only pathetic lip service. I am disgusted at
the grounding of the Mexican registered ship on the Great Barrier Reef
in 2000, and more recently, the wreck of the oil tanker in the Galapagos.
Mishaps will occur, that there is no doubt. But surely the respective governments
of Australia and Equador can recognise the potential disaster that such
shipwrecks can cause. So why not ban shipping within a reasonable disatnce
from such world heritage sites - perhaps five hundred miles. So what if
a ship has to travel further to avoid these once pristine regions. The
reason is of course profit, and the inability of the government to stand
up to the pressures of the oil and shipping companies. One wonders how
much back-pocket finance goes on in allowing these companies to travel
inside the GBR, or close to the Galapagos. It is a disgraceful situation.
Peter Stone, Yarram, Australia
Update - it was recently
reported (February 2001) that the oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef will
be "cleaned up" by March, but that there could no guarantee that it could
not happen again. Next time it could be even worse. What is our government
doing? No wonder we have such a poor reputation for our attitude toward
SEA DRAGON - UPDATE (From Kangaroo Island Diving Safaris)
Leafy Sea Dragons are now
the South Australian Official Sate Marine emblem. One of the primary objectives
this season is to film in the wild the transfer of eggs from the female
LSD to the male LSD. This has never been witnessed before. Earlier this
year we were able to assist Koji Ozaki in capturing on film the hatching
of the Leafy Sea Dragon in the wild. It is a world first on High Definition
Digital. This has since been screened as a documentary in Japan As of 14th
November we are keeping a courting pair of LSD under close observation
as we hope to witness the transfer of eggs from the female to the male.
Both of these creatures are known to us from the last 3 years. For more
up to date observations on the dragons look at our web site www.kidivingsafaris.com
Water temperatures are currently 17Deg. C and warming towards our summer
average of 20Deg. C Weedy Sea dragons are also breeding well with three
old friends currently incubating good numbers of eggs.
LOG AUSTRALIASIA EDITORIAL - October 2000
Standards Australia -
and the Japanese.
This month I'm angry ....
angry at Standards Australia for treating divers in this country as idiots
and I'm angry at the Japanese not only for not stopping their so-called
‘scientific' whaling, but actually expnding it to include Brydes and Sperm
Firstly the proposed new
standards for Standards Australi and New Zealand ‘Occupational Diving Operations,
Part 3: Recreational Diving and Snorkelling'. I challenge why there has
to be a standard at all for ‘recreational diving'? No other outdoor activity
has Australian Standards for their recreationaal activity! Standards Australia
state that ... "already this year, two divers have lost thier lives...",
that is two divers in ten months! With the millions of dives undertaken
in that ten month period. I would have thought that the result was good.
Last year four snow borders lost their lives in one accident; last month
two surfers died in two days; two hang gliders died in one accident, plus
snow skiing, rock climbing and rock fishing all have high accident and
death rates - yet none of these outdoor activities have Australian
Standards for recreational pursuits.
Why does stuba diving? I
can understand why Workplace, Heath and Safety monitor activities such
as bungee jumping, hot air balloon rides, paying hang-gliding passengers,
jet boat rides or even even paying passengers while on a dive boat enroute
to a dive site. As in all these outdoor activities the paying customer
has no control of their safety. This is entirely in the hands of
the operator. However once a diver is in the water the oceans is
NOT a 'workplace!'. No more than the is oceans is a 'workplace' when
a surfer goes surfing! Can you imagine what surfers would say if Standards
Australia told them they had to surf in 'buddy pairs'? When an individual
pursues a chosen outdoor activity he or she has to be responsible for their
own actions. I say this to Standards Australia - butt out of our chosen
outdoor recreational pursuit, it is none of your business!
Now to the Japanese.... last
month (September 2000), their northern whaling fleet returned to port withj
a so-called ‘scientific' catch of eighty-eight whales - 43 Brydes, 5 Sperm,
and 40 Minke Whales! While the world protests the Japanese go on ddoing
what they like and prepare for their summer ‘Scientific" hunting season
in the Southern ocean! Unless we lobby our politicians and the Japanese
embassy, unless we stay angry and yell loudly they will continue to go
on doing what they like nd expanding thier ‘scientific' catch of whale
meat for the commercial sales market in Japan. Tell the Japanese they are
out of touch with world sentiment - tell Standards Australia and NZ to
keep out of our recreational diving activities! Because, if we don't, nothing
will change! Stay angry!
Barry Andrewartha and Belinda
Editors and Publishers,
Dive Log Australiasia.October 2000.
(Kindly reproduced with
Obtain a copy of the standards
Ms Carol Foster
P.O.Box 1055, Strathfield,
Fax: (02) 8206 6022
Ask for a copy of Standard
DR00219, 'Occupational Diving Operations, Part 3, Recreational Diving and
Comments to be considered
in the standard closed on 15 October 2000, but you should still become
familiar with the standard, as it affects YOU, and make comment to Standarsd
Australia as you think appropriate.
You may be able to download
a copy of the draft from this site.
Check out Bob Halstead's
excelent comment on the standard in the October 2000 edition of Dive Log
Australasia, available (generally free) from any good professional dive
Note: Standards Australia
is not a government body. It is a private organisation called a 'quango',
the name popularised by the brilliant British comedy, Yes, Minister! A
quango is a 'quasi autonomous national government organisation' - I think
that is it - which basicaslly means that it is a private organisation funded
by the government to do what the government bids. Standards Australia's
role is to write standards. If there is no standards to write, there is
no need for Standards Australia - or at least, its funding would be diminished
considerably. So it is in Standards Australia's interests to find a subject
and write a standard. Technically, the draft standards written by Standards
Australia don't mean a thing in law - until they are ratified and adopted
and implemented by the (federal) government - which is what usually happens
because no body in the government (public servant or politician) seems
to care too much about what is proposed, so long as it appears to
be in the nation's interests and it doesn't rock the politicians boat.
For a politician to understand the implications of a standard would mean
the necessity to study the subject and gain an understanding of what the
standard is all about - and why do that when you have a quango in the first
place. So in effect, Standards Australia can propose virtually what they
like, no matter how preposerous it may seem to the general public and those
who have to implement the standard, because you will get no support from
the politicians. It is therefore necessary to make Standards Australia
realise that what they are proposing in any controversial standard is ludicrous
not in the best interests of the country. If you can make Standards
Australia realise that what they are doing is stupid, and you will expose
their stupidity to the public through the print and electronic media, then
perhaps you will get somewhere. If you can convince a politician that the
standard proposed is not in the best interests of the public, and that
if some action is not taken, you will expose the politician's incompetence
or disinterest, then perhaps you will get somewhere. That is the modus
operandi of a lobby group. Personal emotion on the matter in question
may motivate the individual to act, but it will have no effect on the politician
(and indeed, no effect on Standards Australia). You need to gather your
facts, present your case in a formal and professional manner, seek a response.
If the response is not satisfactory (and the cynic may say, with some measure
of truth, that it will never be satisfactory), you need to present your
argument again and this time with an indication of the consequences if
they (Standards Australia, the politicians) will not act in accordance
with your wishes. This is not a threat - simply a plan of action. You have
that right. This is what democracy is all about. If then, Standards Australia
and the politicians feel strongly enough about thie decisions, they can
face a public debate. It is time then to get the media on side to press
Contact Standards Australia
and ask for a copy of the DR00219 standard. Make comment. Communicate.
Contact your local politician with your views and seek his or her support
and intervention. Ask your local politician what he or she thinks of the
standard - they like that. And don't let up. As Barry Andrewartha has said,
stay angry - but don't show your anger to Standards Australia or the politicians
- show understanding, concern and above all determination. Don't let
up. "Because of we don't, nothing will change".
Peter Stone, Yarram, October
LOSS OF THE RUSSIAN SUBMARINE
The recent loss (in August)
of the Russian submarine with some 140 people on board has a remarkable
parallel more than half a century ago. The 270 ft British submarine Thetis
found itself in a similar situation on 1 June 1939, just months before
war was declared. Like the Russian Kursk in the Barents Sea, the
sank in Liverpool Bay due to flooding of her first two compartments. It
was not however an explosion that took her to the bottom, but a procedure
error that caused the front torpedo tube to be opened to the sea. The remarkable
similarity between the two losses however is in the subsequent rescue attempt;
submariners in both ships could have been saved had it not been for the
procrastination and bungling of the respective navies and government. We
shall hear more of the loss of the Russian submarine no doubt. The Thetis
was a new submarine undergoing sea trials with 103 navy and civilians on
board. Within five hours of her first attempted dive she was lying with
her bow stuck in the seabed mud at 160 ft, and her stern protruding at
a precarious angle some thirty feet out of the choppy seas. Four men managed
to escape, using the recently developed David Escape apparatus. Others
tried and died, trapped like rats in the small escape champer. The remainder
just waited for rescue, and died a slow death, asphyxiated as their carbon
dioxide levels built up (not lack of oxygen as is generally reported).
Having the stern exposed should have resulted in a more positive outcome.
But the attempted rescue was one of the worst bungles in British naval
history, exposing the sorry state of communications and rivalry within
the Royal Navy. Experienced rescue personnel and equipment were in Scotland
at the time, yet it took several days for them to be called. No body seemed
to take control, and several rescue attempts failed because of lack of
leadership. Meanwhile the remaining submariners were left to die a slow
yet painless death. They could have been rescued by cutting into the hull,
but the British Navy seemed reluctant to destroy their new toy, particularly
with hostilities looming in Europe. Thetis was eventually raised, nearly
five months later. It required the services of a mine rescue team to perform
the gruesome task of recovering the bodies. The submarine returned
to Birkenhead where she was refitted, renamed Thunderbolt, and went
into service against the Germans. She was sunk once again with all hands,
and not recovered, in March 1943, by the Italian sloop Cicogna.
The Kursk will most likely remain on the seabed as a grave to the
victims of a uncertain bureaucracy. *
Peter Stone, 22 August
2000, Yarram Standard News.
Note: No Australian media
seem to have picked up on the similarity of the loss of the Thetis and
to catalog entry for the book Thetis - The Admiralty Regrets.
Not so - the Kursk was raised with the assistance of Norwegian salvors
late October 2001.
TOO FAR AWAY.
should not abandon its attempt to establish a haven
whales in the South Pacific.
and New Zealand have failed in their bid to establish a South Pacific whale
sanctuary. After an exhaustive debate at the International Whaling
Commission meeting in Adelaide on Tuesday (4 July), 18 nations backed the
planned santuary - a bare majority of the 35 nations called to vote and
six short of the 24 votes needed to win. The Environment Minister,
Robert Hill, has vowed to pursue the plan at subsequent IWC meetings, but
the reaction of Japan's commissioner, Minoru Morimoto, indicates that the
battle to establish the sanctuary will be hard fought.
Morimoto said- "My reaction to this absurd proposal is one of bewilderment
and resentment. It should be withdrawn."
IWC delegates characterised Australia's opposition to whaling as illogical
and sentimental. They said that whales were a traditional food source
in Japan, and that to hunt and eat a whale was no more horrible than hunting
and killing a kangaroo. And yet a recent poll by the Independent
MORI Organisation found that about 60 per cent of Japanese hadn't eaten
whale since childhood and only one per cent ate it more than once a month.
Of those polled, only eleven per cept backed whaling.
Japanese have described minke whales - the species that is the main target
of their "scientific" whaling expeditions - as "the rabbits of the sea".
The president of the Japan Whaling Association, Keiichi Nakajima, has said
that if the IWC's commercial moratorium on whaling were lifted, Japan could
sustainably take 2000 Antarctic minke whales a year for 100 years to come.
At present, Japanese whalers take 440 minkes from the Antarctic and 100
from the North Pacific, with plans to hunt 50 Bryde's whales and 10 sperm
to whaling have expressed scepticism about these statistics; American researchers,
genetically testing whale meat sold in an Osaka department store, discovered
that it belonged to the endangered and supposedly protected blue whale.
purpose of the commercial moratorium on whaling was to protect species
that were almost hunted to extinction. The proposed sanctuary would extend
that protection and further limit whatever whaling continues to take place.
The number of whales in the world has dwindled because of the whaling industry's
failure in the past to set realistic sustainable quotas. The rarity
of many species of whales is a potent symbol of the destruction that industry
can wreak on the natural world.
people pay money merely to look at a whale and many experience a sighting
as a magical event. Our relationship to these ceatures commonly elicits
an emotional response; for many that is reason enough to hope that the
sanctuary proposal eventually succeeds.
Age, 6 July 2000. Editorial. (reproduced without permission - but we hope
they don't mind).