Whale Watching On the Rise in Japan and Iceland

Whale watching is one of the fastest growing tourist activities in Japan, which is a marked shift in the way the Japanese people think of whales — as something to observe in the water rather than on a dinner plate.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), has been keeping track and found that from 2008-2015, the last year for which ifaw had statistics, the number of whale watchers in Japan each year increased by more than 40,000, and most of these tourists are from Japan rather than foreigners who are visiting.  In Iceland, where tourism has been steadily increasing since 2010, the Icelandic Travel Industry Association is concerned that bad publicity surrounding commercial whaling there offends the animal and outdoor-loving, high-spending tourists that the country is most keen to attract.

According to ifaw’s Patrick Ramage, the tide in these countries is beginning to turn. “What’s remarkable is the steady growth in the whaling countries. While their governments figure out how to climb down from whaling, citizens and tourists in Iceland, Norway and Japan are climbing aboard whale watching vessels. Animals, people and coastal economies thrive when whales are seen and not hurt,” Ramage said.

Why This Matters: Most species of whales are endangered.  Robert Watson, the chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that produced the Extinction report, said “[w]e need to reduce and eliminate harmful subsidies. We really have to think about what is the economic system that will be much more sustainable in the future.”  Exactly — government subsidies for non-consumptive activities like whale watching, which is a $2 billion dollar industry worldwide, are key to shifting the paradigm from consumption to conservation.  Meanwhile, there are other threats to whales that need to be addressed such as ocean noise, entanglement in fishing gear and being struck by ships.  Just Monday the 9th gray whale this year washed up dead in San Francisco.

What You Can Do:  Sign a petition to urge the Icelandic government to put an end to commercial whaling by clicking here.

Up Next

The House Select Committee’s “Blueprint” for Solving the Climate Crisis

The House Select Committee’s “Blueprint” for Solving the Climate Crisis

By Jean Flemma and Miriam Goldstein Historically, the ocean has been overlooked in the climate debate. That makes no sense. Ignoring the 71 percent of the planet that creates more than half the oxygen we breathe and has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat created by climate change can hardly lead to a complete […]

Continue Reading 1040 words
First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm In Federal Waters Completed, Ready to Spin

First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm In Federal Waters Completed, Ready to Spin

On Monday, the state of Virginia and Dominion Energy announced the completion of the second offshore wind facility in the U.S. and the first one in federal waters.  Its two turbines sit 27 miles off the coast and when operational later this summer, will produce enough electricity to power 3000 homes.

Why This Matters:  If the waters off Virginia are suitable for wind farms, with their close proximity to ports, naval facilities, and tourism, then it is hard to imagine why wind power can’t be developed in many other areas along the U.S. coast.

Continue Reading 521 words
One Working Remotely Thing: The Wonders of The Coral Sea Discovered

One Working Remotely Thing: The Wonders of The Coral Sea Discovered

Recently, a deep-sea expedition to the Coral Sea northwest of Australia conducted by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, founded by Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google, and his wife, Wendy returned with stunning images to share.  Bill Broad of The New York Times wrote an in-depth story that featured the images and described some of the most important findings.

Why This Matters:  Aside from the many discoveries, such as 10 new species of fish, snails and sponges, the entire expedition was conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic — which apparently is a global first, but is unlikely the last time that will happen.

Continue Reading 275 words