Gareth Hughes
Whales needlessly dying on the doorstep of our largest city

Imagine if a Japanese whaling fleet every year came down to New Zealand and hunted and killed two critically endangered whales in the Hauraki Gulf, just off Auckland? Imagine the outcry, the protests and activists racing around on small boats to stop it.

Imagine the surprise then that this occurs every year on average for the nationally critically endangered Bryde’s whale but from a more prosaic but easily avoidable source, but there’s hardly any media attention on it at all.

The Bryde’s whale is listed as nationally critically threatened by the Department of Conservation and it is estimated there are 46 resident and 159 transient Bryde’s whales in the Hauraki Gulf, making up the bulk of the population.

This whale is threatened simply by large ships travelling too fast and striking and killing the whales in the Hauraki Gulf. Between 1996 and 2012, 42 Bryde’s whale mortalities were recorded, 19 of which are known or suspected to have been caused by vessel strike. Scientists have pointed out the chance of surviving is greatly increased if ships slow down to 10 knots. Speed is needlessly killing them and pushing them closer to local extinction.

For a country that loves whales and has spoken out loudly in global forums for the end of commercial whaling it is tragic that the Bryde’s whale, a species on the cusp of local extinction, is dying needlessly right on our largest city’s doorstep.

While I acknowledge and welcome the Hauraki Gulf Forums attempt to reduce ship speeds I am concerned by how long the process is taking and the considerable threat this species is under. The time for talk is over and the time for action is now.

I’ve just written to the Minister of Conservation requesting that he use his considerable powers under the Marine Mammals protection Act (1978) to protect these whales. Nick Smith could use either Section 22 to declare a marine sanctuary with ship speed controls or use Section 28 to make regulations that address ship speeds and the chances of strike. He could do this tomorrow.

Imagine if we had a Government that used the powers it has right now to protect our amazing marine mammals?

27 thoughts on “Whales needlessly dying on the doorstep of our largest city

  1. So, the sarcastic question (which comes in two flavours) is:
    – what is the market solution?
    – who do I pay, in order to have reduced ship speed and whale mortality?

    What I don’t have, is a plan for getting the public conversation to engage enough with the sarcastic question, in order to feel embarrassed that it doesn’t work that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  2. The choice is clear – you can either move the whales , or move Auckland.

    But with 100,000 Bryde’s whales in the rest of the world, you’re also going to have a 10 knot restriction across the whole planet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 (-3)

  3. Solkta jumps to the forefront of intelligent Green debate by making up something that was never said then howling at it in a duck voice.

    That’s such original thinking, except for hundreds of times you’ve done it before

    With that level of intelligent debate, I wouldn’t be surprised if you went a long way in the Green movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10 (-9)

  4. Whales die. They’re born, the swim around, they eventually die. That’s nature.

    Could all boats slow down to ten knots so that on the rare occasion a whale is hit, the whale is only merely injured? Well, they could, but what is the economic cost of that? And is a badly injured whale dying miserably over a few days better off than a whale killed outright?

    Because even at ten knots, you’re not preventing whale strikes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9 (-7)

  5. How RWNJ’s see nature #1:

    “Whales die. They’re born, the(sic) swim around, they eventually die.”

    Given the depth of their understanding of the natural world, is it any wonder they don’t notice when they trample all over it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 (+4)

  6. Can I take that back?
    On closer inspection, photo seems unable to differentiate between ducks and wolves –

    “… howling at it in a duck voice…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  7. Do you have any stats for boat strikes on whales at ten knots or below, and the impacts thereof?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  8. Given the depth of their understanding of the natural world

    That’s life. You’re born, you do stuff, you die.

    Gareth’s position is flawed as he hasn’t told us how many whales are saved @ ten knots or below vs speeds now. The whale may still die even at ten knots, or be injured and die shortly after. Contrast this with the economic costs of slower speeds. What are these costs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  9. Arana, Mauritius Island, at the moment when the last dodo is about to be clubbed:

    “But what’s the economic cost of not bashing it to death eh! Answer me that!!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  10. “That’s life. You’re born, you do stuff, you die.”

    *Cronk!!!

    *The sound dodos made.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  11. “But what’s the economic cost of not bashing it to death eh! Answer me that!!”

    Is there only one whale left? Perhaps there are other ways to stimulate local whale populations so that the occassional boat strike, which will happen regardless of speed limits, doesn’t have a long term impact on numbers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. “Gareth’s position is flawed as he hasn’t told us how many whales are saved @ ten knots or below vs speeds now.”

    Gareth’s position is flawed as he is unable to give an economic analysis of something that hasn’t anything to do with economics. In order to make his case, he would need to provide sound analysis of the economic value of a Byrde’s whale now and in the future, given the possibilities of a Byrde’s whale having currently unknown economic value, the emotional and spritual value of a Byrde’s whale to the public quantified in dollar terms, at an standardised rate of emotions to the dollar, and the biodiversity value of a Byrde’s whale in dollar per kilo of whale flesh terms and compare this with the economic costs of reducing vessel speeds, including, but not limited to, the costs of the emotional deprivation of people who like going fast. If he can’t do this he should shut up.

    Of course, we shouldn’t apply this test to capitalist activities because they are God’s default option for human society and don’t have to prove anything, the burden of responsibility should always rest on Greenie hippie types, and other wreckers, as has been ordained.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  13. So, how much would you spend maybe, but maybe not, making a possible difference to local whale numbers?

    Save the whales! Save them! No whale should ever die, ever. Blo*dy humans and their watercraft. Should have stayed up in the trees of the African Savannah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  14. Every dead whale has an ecological value in that it is shark food, fish food, and bird food.

    Dead whales are not wasted, they are perfectly recycled in the way nature intended.

    Much ado about nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 (-1)

  15. I’m sure the humble local plankton community will breathe a sigh of relief.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  16. Every dead dodo has an ecological value in that it is rat food, fly food, and bird food.

    Dead dodos are not wasted, they are perfectly recycled in the way nature intended.

    Much ado about nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 (+5)

  17. “Is there only one whale left?”

    “The Natural World According to Arana” 2:00 pm, on Frogblog.
    On today’s programme, Arana explains how species can be reduced to the very last individual, then miraculously rebuilt, using SCIENCE and MONEY.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  18. Programme update:
    There were watercraft in the trees of the African Savannah!
    Join Arana at 2:39pm for more extraordinary True Facts on the Natural World According to Arana.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  19. On today’s programme, Arana explains how species can be reduced to the very last individual

    There are over 100, 000 of them, so we’re not running out of them anytime soon. Many die of natural causes, and join the food chain.

    We need to know the costs of slowing boats down. We also need to quantify the benefits i.e. how many whales are saved. Without that information, then how can you make a decision?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  20. There were watercraft in the trees of the African Savannah!

    Join Greenfly, and the other kids, for a reading and comprehension lesson. Then, if we have time, we’ll watch “Origin Of The Species: The Evolution Of Man”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  21. greenfly says “There were watercraft in the trees of the African Savannah!”

    greenfly – your inability to comprehend basic English is only surpassed by your ability to continually invent wacky statements that nobody has ever said or even implied.

    Again you are howling (or quacking) at the moon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  22. Just for the information of those questioning the economics of it… slower boats (<10knots) save considerably on fuel consumption. Please check the facts. On the USA east coast we are currently running a project "Act Right Now," to protect North Atlantic Right Whales. This includes continuing the speed restrictions on vessels over 60ft. and adding the restriction to vessels under 60ft. The shipping companies are supportive due to the above equation… less speed = less fuel. Find 8 minute video on Vimeo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  23. Yes, I was surprised to see this story on the news and I didn’t know anything about them. My response was “just get the ships to slow down”. I know it is a complicated issue, but at the end of the day it just needs to be done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  24. Stop killing whales! Let our oceans be abundant with whales. And please slow down the speed of ships where whales are roaming underwater. Be considerate to them. Don’t let it be extinct; otherwise one day mankind will also be extinct through the chain of eco-system. Love whales, love creatures; the Creator will love you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

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