I’ve been hearing from several friends that they are also frustrated with the current state of whaling affairs, and want to know how to help. So this post is designed to suggest some actions we can all take. It will not be exhaustive, but hopefully will prove to be a useful starting place.
There are three things that are bringing attention to these matters to the fore: the death of the SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau, the recent Small Group meeting of the International Whaling Commission to discuss a fundamental shift in whaling (basically going from “banned” to permitted commercial whaling), and the Oscar win for Best Documentary to The Cove (congrats to all involved in that film!).
What can we do, those of us who are not working for marine organizations or right on the front lines?
At the moment, the most urgent thing we can do is to contact our government representatives. There is a serious effort being made to create a plan that allows for some commercial whaling towards the goal of ending all commercial whaling. The US is one of the countries working on this – it is critically important to increase public pressure to say that this is NOT acceptable. Killing whales on a commercial level needs to end, period. This proposed compromise simply rewards Japan, Norway and Iceland – who have been flouting the ban on whaling for decades and even increased their kill numbers – by given them legitimacy without an enforceable way to ensure that the killing DOES end. Meanwhile, thousands more whales will suffer inhumane deaths. President Obama has promised not to allow whaling – contact the White House and make sure he does not become the president who DID move towards killing whales.
In the case of The Cove, which works to expose the slaughter of thousands of dolphins in Japan, you can send the text DOLPHIN to 44144. Be aware that this will place you on a text alerts list (from which you can easily opt out) and will be subject whatever text charges you have on your cell plan.
Stay up on the news. If you’re on Twitter, there are loads of marine, whale and conservation groups you can follow which post stories and developments. For ideas of some, check my follow lists for oceans, whales, and green/nature. You do not have to be on Twitter to see what people are saying, and you can often find websites for organizations by clicking on their @ nicknames to reach their individual pages.
Greenpeace is another organization that posts current news and offers e-petitions that can be signed and shared. These e-petitions do NOT replace direct individual contact from us to our representatives. Individual letters still hold more weight.
I keep a list here on the blog of whale research and conservation orgs. Again, it is not comprehensive but is a good start. Go to their sites, read up on their work, and support them however you can.
In the end, there are countless matters of concern for ocean conservation: ending shark finning, establishing marine parks, ending destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling and long lining, cleaning up pollution. There are countless organizations involved in many of these causes. Use the web – find out who is working on the issues that matter to you most, and get involved. All it takes is one voice to get the ball started.