Friday, June 24, 2005

Moby Dick: 2 - Captain Ahab: 0

The original Captain Ahab had a serious obsession with hunting Moby Dick, a Physeter macrocephalus - better known as a sperm whale. Modern Captain Ahabs seem to fancy Balaenoptera acutorostrata just as much. This creature can weigh up to 10 metric tonnes and can grow up to 36 feet in length. Although it is a mammal, it lives in the sea; and since 1986 it has been listed as a ‘threatened species’ and has been awarded the protection of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Its street name in the vast maritime ‘hood is Minke Whale

It might or might not be comforting to Minke Whale to be under the protection of the IWC. As stated, ‘the main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world’. A better group of reviewers and revisers could not be found. There are 66 countries in the commission and, as expected, they bring a variety of interests to the discussion. Three of them (Iceland, Norway and Japan) actually like hunting and eating whales. Three of them (the UK, Australia and New Zealand) are implacably opposed to hunting or eating whales. Three countries (Togo, Gambia and Nauru) are mildly interested although apparently not interested enough to pay their dues to the IWC. Three landlocked Eastern European countries (Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) joined the commission apparently because Eastern European countries will join any international organization these days simply because they can. Although Mali and Mongolia are also completely landlocked, membership allows their representatives access to duty free shopping. Whilst jerk whale has never been a hot menu item for them, several Caribbean countries are members so they can sell whale quotas to the highest bidder. Given these varied backgrounds, the vote on Japan’s request to kill a lot more Minke Whales is a close run thing.

Of course Japan already pushes the limit of its quota of whales by claiming that it needs them for ‘scientific research’. Captain Yakamoto, of CSI: Tokyo must have a stainless steel table the size of a tennis court in order to autopsy the whales for cause of death. (The 12 foot, cannon fired, exploding harpoon sticking out of the whale’s head might only represent an incidental injury.) The Japanese really like to eat CSI: Tokyo’s leftovers and one school district has plans to put McWhale back on the menu. Perhaps the children will get lessons in the use of chain saws instead of chop sticks.

The IWC meeting has witnessed more deal making, back room intrigue, arm twisting and vote buying than a UN plenary session on raising delegates’ meal allowances to $850.00 a day. Japan has threatened to quit the organization and calls the limits on Minke Murder an insult to its cultural heritage! Defenders of whale quotas remain ‘relieved but concerned’ about the future of the Minke. Minke Whales point out that they share the concern and that eating Japanese people has never been part of their cultural heritage.

At the end of all this arguing and posturing, it appears that the demands of Japan to raise or eliminate the quota will be rejected. There will still be a need to police the oceans and enforce the limits. Perhaps, in keeping with its cultural heritage, the IWC could employ Inspector Jacques Cleuseau to patrol the high seas. What could be more appropriate than asking Captain Ahab-san, ‘Do yeu ‘ave a lasaunce for zat Minke?’


Anonymous DV said...

.. and I thought that mink were small furry animals.

Good blog.
One day the whales will show who's in charge round here

8:17 AM  
Blogger John Walter said...

Moby Dick was a sperm whale, not a minke.

8:57 PM  
Blogger John Walter said...

Hey! Thanks for the fix!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Carnival said...

Hello, Just wandering the blogosphere and happened on your blog. I like the way how you have put it all together. I'll be coming back again.


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9:39 AM  

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