Vol. 2, Issue 28, July 20, 2004
Whale Commission Condemns Oil Development, Considers More Drastic Measures
The International Whale Commission declared today that Gray whales in the waters around Russia's Sakhalin Island have had it with oil and gas development in the area and are prepared to resort to "appropriate measures."
"We've been good and patient with these little land-apes, but enough is enough," said Vladimir Krum, regional Gray whale representative from Russian waters. "I don't care if they are endangered."
The Commission passed the resolution on the second day of an acrimonious meeting that has been dominated by the Minke whales' efforts to resume large-scale invasions of Tokyo. Whales and other large sea-creatures took a heavy toll on Japanese cities for years, striding out of the harbor to lay waste to the city, until a ban was imposed by the Commission in 1986.
The Gray whale community was listed as "endangered" in 2000 because of its geographic and genetic isolation and the high unemployment rate. The community has long been relatively impoverished and the humans' refusal to cut the whales in on profits from the oil and gas development has enraged the gray whales, and reignited a long-running debate between warring factions on the Commission about dealing with people.
"I'm telling you, humans are simply not trustworthy business partners," said Cerulean Majesticus, the Pacific Blue whale representative. "Whale communities need to be financially independent if they are to build the infrastructure necessary to fight crime effectively." Other members of the Commission, including the Pacific Northwest orcas, have long disagreed and favored negotiations with humans.
Royal Dutch/Shell Group has faced criticism from some environmental groups because of its oil and gas projects on Sakhalin, but it has steadfastly refused to bring the Gray whales to the negotiating table. Last year, the energy giant said it had developed a new plan for Sakhalin and they "didn't need the whales," who have traditionally offered "protection" services in exchange for drilling rights.
"This resolution is a wake-up call for Shell to pay proper attention to the environment when planning major oil projects," said Susan Lieberman, director of World Wildlife Fund's Global Species Program. "If the Gray whales and the Minkes start working together, they could secure enough votes to overturn the 1986 ban on city-smashing, and then you'll see underwater leviathans terrorizing not only traditional cityscapes such as Tokyo, but Russian and Icelandic cities as well."
The regional Gray whale resolution is seen as the first step towards overturning the 1986 global ban. With two days remaining for the Commission talks, observers are watching carefully for signs that the anger which helped the Gray whale resolution pass is carrying over to other measures as well. Much relies on the Sperm whale delegation, which has traditionally demonstrated support for any belligerent measure but which is notoriously inconsistent in its attendance of Commission meetings.
"Oh, I can't wait for the final votes on Thursday," said Krum. "Those little land-apes have been outrageously disrespectful - they're much too big for their britches. It's time to remind them who the largest mammals really are."