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This will be the first time in 100 years that whales will
not be hunted in the Southern Ocean
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has extra reason to
celebrate their National Whale Day this year. On 31 March, the
International Court of Justice declared that Japan's Southern Ocean
whale hunt was illegal under international law.
This will be the first time in 100 years that whales will not be
hunted in the Southern Ocean. Given that over 50% of the world's
cetaceans are found in Australian waters, including 45 species of
whales, dolphins and porpoises, this is a great thing for the
protection and diversity of the species.
So celebrate this significant win. Take a whale watching boat, or
hike along almost any headland to see them migrate along the NSW
coastline. They head north from late April to August, and return
southwards from around September to November. The Office
of Environment and Heritage website is a great place to start.
Personally I like the gentle stroll from Kiama South, where I once saw
a mother whale teaching her youngster how to wave at us. (You can
interpret this how you like, but that's my story.)
The International Court of Justice's decision is one small step in a
race to stop hunting the world's largest mammals. The Japanese are
already appealing the decision and it hasn't stopped whaling
elsewhere. But it's still an important win.
But what can you do to help? IFAW's National
Whale Day website suggests a creative approach, encouraging
people to describe, in words or pictures, why whaling should end for
good. The best 100 entries will be passed on to politicians and
diplomats to spread the message of support for an end to whaling.
And on a more domestic front, be mindful of what you put in your
rubbish bin. Whales have been found dead with intestinal blockages due
to plastic bags and other non-biodegradable rubbish. So look to your
recycling practices, use carry bags instead of plastic, don't dump
rubbish out of your car that will only get washed out to sea in the
next storm. And if you enjoy fishing, make sure you dispose of your
bait bags, old lines and nets properly.
Whales are majestic creatures. To see one breach out of the sea is a
beautiful sight and one we should all be able to share with our
children and grandchildren.