As orca protection gets debated and thrown around Friday Harbor, the orcas are still suffering.
It is my suggestion that we all stop throwing out excuses and reasons why it is someone else’s problem as the Southern Residents slowly disappear. Oh I am sure that everyone will blame someone else when they are gone, why not take another track?
The Lopez group have accumulated enough signatures to put their orca protection initiative on the November ballot despite litigation being leveled against them to stop. I am not a lawyer, and I don’t even pretend to be one, but what is up with a lawsuit to prevent residents from voting? When I last looked the San Juans were American, so let the residents decide through the ballot box without fear of ending up in court. Our American legal system is such that anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason they want. A large group or corporation with unlimited funds can tie up individuals forever. It costs thousands of dollars to defend yourself, even when you are right. In this case no matter the money spent on either side, it is the whales who will ultimately pay.
The governor’s task force and the recent moves by Canada support giving the orcas a break, but with business interests threatened… lobbyists worked hard behind the scenes to get their way.
While whale watching interests and others will tell you that new law proposals are too broad and unenforceable with no money being committed for enforcement… is this really any reason to drop the efforts? I believe no, it is time to redouble our efforts. A 650 yard bubble around the Southern Residents will make up-close whale watching illegal for now, but maybe… just maybe there will be whales to watch in the future. The humans on Lopez are finally looking forward. What a positive concept!
The “unenforceable” issue always comes up when the public votes for change. It came up when states attempted to outlaw smoking in businesses and even on beaches in California. These laws were deemed unenforceable by law enforcement organizations everywhere. Was this a reason to not have the laws? As it turned out smoking stopped without storm troopers or extra cops. Smoking stopped because the public agreed that eating in smoke polluted restaurants, and drinking in smoke filled bars was something we could all do without. Peer pressure did the rest. We, the public, can and will enforce regulations by the very fact that they are right. Protecting these whales is simply the right thing to do, and we can do it.
We at gaianetwork.net are presently working with individuals and groups toward “peer” enforcement to end whale harassment. Of course although common sense and much science proves engine noise affects orca communication and inhibits their abilities to live, forage, and reproduce, there are those demanding we all continue to swim against the stream. We, as humans, have the right to exploit nature for education and, of course money… enough said. I disagree.
.We do not propose exemptions for film or even research. There is plenty of “up-close and personal” films and thousands of photos for sale, do we need more? How much more research is really necessary? Yesterday I was accused of harassing whale watchers with drones, and driving around drinking wine and harassing the whale watchers at high speed. THIS WAS NOT US!
We are presently working on a shore based operation called NEIGHBORHOOD ORCA WATCH (N.O.W.) with shore based cameras watching the orca’s feeding areas. We will not become part of the problem to feather our own nest. Once set up, I am sure there will be criticism no doubt, but we will continue to test our concept and hope to get others to help. By just watching and allowing others to watch through LIVE STREAMING, it is my belief that peer pressure will allow the orcas to survive. It is not the solution, but it is a start. Victoria is finally working at cleaning up their act and treating their sewage with a proposed sewage treatment plant. Maybe we can stop consuming so much plastic, dumping used Prozac and other drugs down the drain, and thinking about what pesticides and poisons we use on our properties. Maybe we can limit our take of chinook salmon both commercially and individually and allow the species to come back. I know dams are an issue, as are other abuses, but all of the above are a start. As Buddha said: all great journeys begin with one step. NOW IS THE TIME to take these baby steps no matter what nay-sayers profess. Locally one must only look at the jet ski ban.
We will all change when the orcas are gone as good reactionary humans, but we need to take proactive measures now. Let’s decide to all stop blaming others and take the little steps we can to make a difference. This is how change begins and how change is sustained.
We will continue to try to keep positive and invite all others to join us. The whale watch industry did not go broke the months the Southern Residents were “missing”. This in a way proves they don’t need to “watch” the Southern Residents, no one does. Take a walk at Lime Kiln park and view the whales from shore. Instead of being driven to view from high speed boats, take a leisurely walk and view nature as it is meant to be viewed. If you want to get close, watch one of the many films that exist. There is beautiful footage available. Watch it and let the “real” animals survive while they still have a chance. In the end when the orcas are gone, it is this film archive that will be all future generations have. I , for one, do not want this extinction on my watch. Film is not nature…not even close.
Think about our footprint on this planet and we will all be better off for it. Be a part of the solution.
Peter Brown www.gaianetwork.net