GREENPEACE MEDIA RELEASE
Pacific Whales Tracked By Greenpeace
Suva, Fiji, 10 October 2007. Greenpeace today announced the launch of the "Great Whale Trail", a website which uses satellite tracking to show the migration of threatened humpback whales from their breeding grounds in the South Pacific to their feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary(1).
The tracking project will produce vital scientific data on the whales' movements, habitat use and population structure. The website is also a window through which the public can follow their progress and learn more about the range of threats to marine life.
In stark contrast, under the guise of "scientific whaling", the Japanese whaling fleet intends to kill 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales and 50 threatened humpback whales this year. The inclusion of the larger fin and humpback whales means a four-fold increase in the overall weight of the whaling kill, in comparison to the smaller minke whales alone. The "Great Whale Trail" non-lethal tracking programme is intended to show that whales don't need to die for science.
Greenpeace fears that humpback whales from small, threatened populations in the South Pacific, where many countries have whale-watching industries, could be among those killed by the Japanese fleet. The region is home to four of the worlds endangered and vulnerable whale species, and currently nine Pacific Island Countries already offer sanctuary to whales in their Exclusive Economic Zone – totaling to 28.15 million square kilometers of ocean. (2)
"The whale meat which Japan brings back from the Southern Ocean provides virtually no income, whereas Pacific Island countries have developed whale watching into a multi-million dollar industry," said Nilesh Goundar, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Oceans Team Leader. "The Japanese government's whaling programme is jeopardising the economies of whale-watching nations."
Whale watching is a thriving industry. More than 87 counties run whale-watching operations in the world. This generates US one billion dollars in revenue worldwide each year. “In Tonga alone, the total economic benefit form whale-watching is estimated at more than one million TOP. Each humpback whale in Tonga’s waters brings 50 000 TOP in whale –watch earnings each year, which adds up to 1.6 million TOP during its 50-year lifetime”, said Mr Goundar.
The "Great Whale Trail" website also highlights the need for a global network of marine reserves which would provide over-exploited species with a chance of recovery.
Research and Conservation (www.whaleresearch.org) With financial support from Greenpeace, scientists successfully attached satellite tracking tags to whales from New Caledonia and Rarotonga, in August and September 2007.
2. Ten Pacific countries- Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Tonga, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, Australia and New Zealand - have declared their EEZs (totaling to 28.15 million km2) as whale sanctuaries or have laws against hunting whales.
3. About video materials for this project.
You can watch the first in a series of three videos about the whale tagging on Greenpeace TV:
Or on the site of the Great Whale Trail: