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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 23, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta Warning labelled outdated TORONTO An Or.- larlo government doctor t v rcccnl wanmiKs in tlie C in i Medical Association Jour- nal that doctors iilioulil bcvjtc of pcrmiUinj! substitution eyes, is r e a (i I n g his whale poem: "We are wiping out an he says, "that is conceivably our equal in intelligence, and turning it into pet food and fer- tilizer anii lipstick." A score of his friends walk In a circle, bearing placards with "Save the Whale" slogans and drawings of the vanishing IcviaUians themselves. From a record-player on the pavement come the eerie hut strangely beautiful sounds made by the Humpback whale, a species that has been reduced by man from a population of tens of thousands to a few thousand. This is Project Jonah, an or- ganization of CalUorrJan cru- saders for the whale; the Jap- 1 anese Trade Centre is one of its most frequent targets because, says project leader Natalie Ilolwrts, Japan is one of the world's worst offenders againsi the whale, a country that votcrotcclion, is making a re- covery has been along (he Uni- ted States Pacific Coast. Onco almost extinct, Grey Whales now number more than The great 40-ton mammals, measuring perhaps 50 feet in ength, may be seen sometimes 'rom Point Dume. a few miles south of Los Angeles, signalling .heir presence with plumes of spray. All other species have been hunted lo near-extinction. Fifty years ago there were an esti- mated Blue Whales the biggest of them all today there may he left. The second largest, the Finback, is thought lo have dropped in numbers from some lo today. Only hundreds of Right whales remain out of last century's vast populations. As the larger whules have been massacred by Ihc latent means a 100-foot, creature can be pro- cessed these days in 15 rmn utes so the whalers have turned on the smaller si And Inevitably to obtain the same profit Ihcy must kill more of Ihem. Thus (lie Sei whale has been reduced by a third in the last decade: and now it i. the turn of the Sperm anc Minhe whales to be slaugh tered. Japan and the Soviet Union between (hem take 85 per cent j if Ihc world catch. Next comes! >cru, which takes only six per; cenl but adopts a. peculiarly ag- gressive policy and refuses to join the International Whaling Jommission, in which organi- zation lies the whale's hope of survival and therefore tlic fu- ure of the industry. Even in the lH40s when Her- man Melville was writing his great saga of whaling, men were overfisfu'.ng the southern waters. Hut, as ho observes in Moby Dick: "The Sperm whale and Die Right whale are the only ones regularly hunted by man." Thai quickly changed. Today's modem fleets, armed with radar, sonar, helicopters jxl long-range explosive har- poons, find the most elusive cetacenas to be easy game. The industry Is in- different to the fact that it is destroying its or.vn future. Mar- tha Wright a vvhaUnj? expert of the American National Wildlife Federation, says lhal the Jap- anese fleets often kill pro- cess pregnant CT young well under the internationally agreed legal size. They have been known to wipe out whole colonies of "protected" whales; and Mr. Scott McVay chair- man of the Environmental De- fense Fund's Committee on Whales says he has seen Jap- anese fleets lake in whole schools of Sperm whales, of which haJf were under the regu- lation length of 35 feet, But at least the Japanese troubled to appear at this sum- mer's whaling debate at the UN Environment Conference: the Soviet Union, the world's sec- ond major whaling nation, did not bother to turn up. Nor do the Russians show any inclina- tion to join a proposed interna- tional o b s e r v a tfon which would place paid impar- tial observers on all whaling ships and shore stations. Fleets which break international laws would be given stiff penalties. America is no longer a whal- ing nation, and last year it placed e i g h t species of whalo on the endangered species list, thus effectively barring impor- tation to the U.S. of whale prod- ucts. Previously, America had taken some 20 per cent of the world catch to turn into cold cretin, ccfikrip b' ;r-.'l even He Fntldle.s. besuifs j ti'.G products all-early mentis- cd. This put the U.S. a conser- vationist step abend of Britain, which still imports C.fj ont of the world catch, worth al- most million. Meanwhile, at the University of California's Marine Labora- tory aech new Grey whale sighting is carefully logged and reported to the American Ceta- cean ociety; and the hope is that the comeback of that spe- cies is not illusory. 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