Most IWC meetings start off with collective hope from energetic NGO’s from around the globe but unfortunately this energy is strategically silenced within delegations IWC proceedings, allowing pro whalers the ability to go about their barbaric treatment towards our ocean kin. But this years IWC 63 in Jersey Island, UK has been the most activated testament to grassroots protesting for animal rights I’ve experienced. Surfers For Cetaceans have been blessed to work alongside the recently formed NGO ‘Women For Whales’ who have created a passionate and well-organized International Whale Celebration.
The first three days were spent largely amongst the local surf crew, where we held a paddle out to commemorate our lost sea kin. As usual there has been plenty of painting projects, music, film festival days, mixing with other NGO’s like Sea Shepherd and Whales Alive to help strategize for maximum effectiveness to stop whaling and a buzzing week-long protest during the IWC meetings.
Attending these meetings brings forth a wide variety of emotions when facing people who continue to do unthinkable actions to planet Ocean. I swung between anger towards the delegates, frustration with the defunct IWC and as always love for the Earth’s most evolved creature. It’s one thing to watch the horrible acts on video, but facing these men eye to eye is enough to bring your blood to boil. The protests held were charged with primordial chanting, music and the ability to tell these international criminals how we felt about their disgraceful actions.
The good thing about the IWC is that it allows us to address the likes of Kristjan Loftsson, operator of the brutal Icelandic whaling station, the Japanese delegation or the spineless Dan Goodman, Canadian citizen paid by ICR (Japanese whaling front) to act as a puppet propaganda goose. With this said protesting is just one element to maintaining a multi faceted opposition line for universal whale freedom.
According to Daven Joseph of St Vincent and Grenadine he is a man who speaks the honorable truth, believes in sustainability and thinks we are all brothers, but for one reason or another our relationship began with him yelling he would %&**$# my women, as I relied “ you’ve already done that to our relatives in the sea” he turned and screamed that he would than $%*&@ my mother and grandmother!” When he returned an hour later I got straight into his face ready to take a punch for the cause but instead got him into a good 20 minute Q and A amidst a heated group, where he stumbled between his sustainable beliefs and how it was time for his people to exploit this world.
Later in the week Japan stalled the commission for the last few days of proceedings when they threatened to pull out of the IWC alongside the Caribbean block they bribe (which secures pro whaling votes at IWC’s), and once again with the typical sleight of hand swept the issues of transparency, cash bribes, prostitution and corruption off the table. It must also be noted that even in the face of an environmental/social catastrophe, Japan has proclaimed that they will be sending another Antarctic whaling fleet to the Southern Oceans. If this wasn’t enough bad news, rumors have it that the whaling industry might be garnishing more governmental assistance from money allocated to helping rebuild the infrastructure of Japanese culture. At this point in the game the proceedings are laughable and it seems apparent that NGO’s must reexamine the way we organize and interact within this governmental body. It must be stated that the UK has spearheaded the issue of incipient corruption within the IWC and is setting a great example for positive environmental protection.
Surfers For Cetaceans key goal is to keep surfers updated with the status of current whaling issues and various issues that our seas our facing. The recently finished feature documentary “Minds In The Water”, a story following Dave Rastovich during his transformation from surfer to activist is a great tool to help spread the message internationally. Following on from a much-needed day of surfing, the UK premiere in Jersey was a great example of this, as it brought out a great variety of youth, family and local surfers. The next morning a fresh little swell filled in and we were able to spend a good part of the day riding with the locals.
Over the course of the week our collective voice was heard through the BBC, iTV and various international media outlets. These actions reassured why we gather in these obscure locations. Without continued international resistance, the pro whalers would do as they please, and would efficiently wipe out the 20 million year old bloodline of the most impressive creatures on planet Earth. I’m left feeling motivated for action, to learning more and to making our group’s efforts as effective as possible.
If your asking what can you do, for starters go Vegetarian, organize a beach clean up, research, write your local/national government, pull together a paddle out and surfers circle with word up to the press, use your given talents to spread the message in your community or write us with ideas and always lead with your heart.
A few good resources below…