Senior Marine Scientist at Humane Society International
Mark Simmonds is Senior Marine Scientist at Humane Society International, and a world-renowned marine biologist who has spent the better part of his career looking at factors impacting marine mammals in the modern world. He is the author/co-author of more than 200 scientific papers, reports, articles and reviews, and a number of books. Along the way he has helped to raise the alarm about the impacts of chemical pollution and marine debris on seals and cetaceans, the growing significance of marine noise and the threat posed by climate change. He has been employed in the university sector (as a researcher, lecturer and Reader) and by several international non-governmental organisations. In the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was awarded an OBE in recognition of his work in marine mammal conservation and environmental sciences.
At IWC 66, we should celebrate the 30th anniversary of the moratorium. The IWC and its members should be proud of its growing engagement with modern issues and we should all look to see where else it might be able to lend assistance!
An old enemy has re-emerged to threaten again the survival of marine top-predators, such as orcas, other dolphins, and other marine animals.This pollutant foe was first identified in the 1960s ... recent research has shown that it was only diminished, and far from extinguished as a source of harm or even extinction.
There are few more distressing sights than the body of a dying whale being rolled around in powerful surf. Sadly, in the last few weeks, we have witnessed just this as a number of magnificent sperm whales have stranded on North Sea coasts. Not surprisingly, questions are being asked about why this happened, and also whether we could have helped them.
Together with 11 other conservation and welfare organisations, HSI recently launched a <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106992" target="_hplink">petition</a> urging the UK government to do just this. If you care about the whales and you are a UK citizen or live in the UK, please sign and share the petition to get your voice heard.
On at least two occasions since the moratorium on commercial whaling was agreed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), member nations have circled around the idea of coming to some form of compromise between the pro-whaling and the pro-whale sides. These attempts at compromise have failed and the moratorium remains in place, but there are indications that another deal is in the offing. This is an unfortunate development.
Counting whale corpses matters! It not only shows how devastating whaling has been but as the latest revelations show, it also underpins one of the key arguments against any resumption of commercial whaling in the future - which is that whaling must be subject to independent scrutiny...
Japan should note that the commitment of those peoples and nations that see no place for whaling for profit in the modern world remains strong and, if anything, the current Japanese inquisition will be causing them to sharpen up their arguments and resolve against commercial whaling.
If this pint-sized porpoise does become extinct, it means that we will have discovered and exterminated the smallest of the cetaceans in less than a human lifetime. Its imperilled status has long been of concern and its main threat well established as incidental capture in fishing nets, sometimes called 'bycatch'.
Days ago, from a conference center perched on the edge of the bustling mountain city of Quito, Ecuador, delegates to the Convention on Migratory Species made an urgent and unprecedented call to end the live capture of whales and dolphins. This is the first time that any international body has called for this cruel and unnecessary threat to cetaceans to end.
An estimated 6.4 million tonnes of marine litter is dumped in oceans every year. In hotspots more than 3.5 million pieces of litter can occur per square kilometre. Plastic, which constitutes between 60 and 80 percent of marine debris, does not biodegrade and can persist in the marine environment for hundreds to thousands of years.
The locals said they couldn't recall a storm like it. It seemed relentless, starting at dusk and continuing well into the early hours of the morning. The thunder rumbled, and forked lightning struck the sea over and over again, searing the eyes of those watching with vivid after-images...
For the moment, Japan seems intent on launching its plan for a new 'scientific' whaling programme in the Southern Ocean. Whilst it has some allies, the issue drives a wedge between Japan and many other nations. Japan may be able to deflect charges against whaling, including that it is cruel, by casting such criticism as a form of anti-Japanese cultural imperialism. Our only hope is that, given the ICJ ruling is above any rhetoric or politics, perhaps those in power in Japan will be better able to see that commercial whaling is ecologically unsound, uneconomic and, in terms of international relations, disastrous.
Countries worldwide must take decisive and meaningful action to bring the slaughter to an end, and the démarche is a good start on this march towards a fully effective worldwide ban on commercial killing of the whales.
There was a time when the fight to save the whales was at the forefront of environmental concerns. Sadly, this is no longer true and, as we approach the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission a little later this month, it is worth reflecting on the dilemmas now facing those who continue to oppose whaling for profit.
03/09/2014 15:46 BST
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.