Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Thursday, February 17, 2011:
I came across the last outposts of snow. The final remnants of blizzard days. They were damp and melting, sweating it out, as it were. Scattered and pretty much defeated, they were under siege from all angles, seemingly looking to the heavens for reinforcements. Won’t be happening tomorrow. Highs well into the 60s.
Late today, I explored a coyote zone over in Stafford. I saw and heard nothing. A few old tracks. I stayed on into the darkness, watching a full moon rise with a thick haze veil. Oddest thing I saw was a moth in the headlights of my GMC as I departed the area on a dirt road. It was rushing the season to be sure, though tomorrow will likely fool a few more light-sleeping insects. Could see some random flakes this coming week but we’re inching so close to March I can taste it. It’s one of my favorite months.
I had a few folks interested in the knives I make. I’ll get some shots of my latest creations in here, possibly for the weekend. Remember, the SRHS Fishing Rams Flea Market is Saturday.
Below is a story on whalers being stalked in Antarctica. While I’m supportive of commercial fishing as a whole, there is absolutely no need to hunt whales any longer. First of all, the Japanese hunting whales aren’t fishermen. Whales are mammals, so those guys are essentially commercial hunters.
The sooner the true commercial fishing community distances itself from the whaling fleet, the sooner the public will see the positive potential for commercial fishing being done in a resource sustainable manner.
By the by, over 80 percent of Americans are opposed to whale hunting, that number is anchored by younger Americans.
[Wall Street Journal] By Yoree Koh - February 16, 2011 -
Japanese whalers may cut out from Antarctic waters early and head home as the annual expedition continues to be dogged with confrontations from environmentalists.
Japan's Fisheries Agency said that Japanese whalers have suspended their operations since Feb. 10, pointing to harassment from the anti-whaling environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
'The Sea Shepherd boats have been chasing the Nisshin Maru very closely and continuously,' said Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku. 'We must firstly think about the safety of the (Nisshin Maru) crew.'
Mr. Nakaoku said the Nisshin Maru is taking a break from the hunt while it assesses the conditions. While this would not be the first time for a whaling trip to be cut short, it would be unusual for the fleet to turn back early citing aggravation from the militant environmental group, now in its seventh maritime campaign against Japanese whalers.
The whaling season typically runs until mid-March. Mr. Nakaoku emphasized that the decision to stop the hunt has not been made and declined to specify how long the suspension will last. The last time a whaling ship returned home early was in 2007 when one of the ships caught fire following an encounter with the conservation group, according to Mr. Nakaoku.
It has been an especially tense season for the Japanese whalers, who have been fending off confrontations from the activists since the start of the year. Sea Shepherd environmentalists lobbed stink bombs and other objects at ships in early January. Paul Watson, the head of the U.S.-based group and the captain of one of the boats pursuing the whalers, said the group most recently hurled 25 meters of rotten butter and more stink bombs onto the decks of the whaling fleet on Feb. 9, the day before Japan suspended operations.
'Oh yeah I think you can very well say this is a victory,' Mr. Watson told JRT by telephone from the Steve Irwin boat in the Antarctic over the potential early end to the hunt. 'This is our best year yet. Every year we come down stronger and every year the whaling fleet comes down weaker.' The Sea Shepherd added a high-speed boat to its fleet this year, making it easier to track and disrupt the whalers' ability to hunt. Japan has returned in recent years without fulfilling its catch quota due to increasing harassment from the campaigners.
Japan has been the target of international opprobrium for continuing whale hunting missions despite a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling set by the International Whaling Commission. Japan has said it is conducting 'whale research,' a crack in the ban that allows whales be caught for research purposes. Japanese whaling fleets depart for annual whaling hunts in the Southern Ocean in mid-November citing scientific research purposes. The Sea Shepherd group has emerged as one of the most aggressive anti-whaling organizations.
But Mr. Watson said the group's actions are not dangerous and there is no reason for the whalers to be concerned for their safety.
'We've been down here in the Southern Ocean for seven years and we've never injured anybody,' Mr. Watson said.
The Sea Shepherd group has been criticized in recent years over their tactics, escalating the high-seas feud to new heights and glorified on Animal Planet's reality TV show 'Whale Wars.' It boiled over last year when a whaling vessel and Sea Shepherd collided in January 2010, destroying the activist group's boat. The skipper Peter Bethune subsequently boarded the Japanese vessel in an attempt to make a citizen's arrest of the ship's captain and was later convicted in Japan on assault charges.
Rather than personal safety, the bigger concern may be whether the Japanese whalers have enough juice to get around while hunting. This year's chase has forced the whalers to zig zag around the waters, straying from their intended route and eating up fuel. Mr. Nakaoku said that lack of fuel is one of the concerns being weighed in the decision over whether to abort the hunt.
'They are a long way from where they are supposed to be. If you can picture Antarctica as a big round table we're chasing them around the table,' said Mr. Watson.