STARING AT THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS
This is the conservation message that accompanied "The Ocean Reglitterized", an exhibit at the Pelham Art Center that displayed my underwater photography in autumn of 2011. In showcasing my imagery, a primary goal was to have viewers come away with new insight about the relationship and responsibility of stewardship they had with the ocean environment.
ENOUGH WITH SHARK FIN SOUP!
The world's sharks are being killed off at a frighteningly rapid pace, primarily to display prosperity through the custom of serving expensive shark fin soup at Asian banquets and weddings. Shark finners slice off the fins (worth up to US$800 a kilo) and the less valuable mutilated shark is discarded back into the ocean to slowly die.
Aside from this grotesque cruelty and waste, the harm from killing off sharks extends nearly everywhere on Earth. Many shark species are necessary in regulating species abundance and distribution to uphold the biodiversity vital for the ocean's functionality and, in turn, maintaining terrestrial ecosystems as well.
Speciescide – driving a species towards regional or global extinction – is an abomination from every perspective that must be eradicated using every means necessary.
FAREWELL TO A NAPOLEON WRASSE
Yes, this is an obituary for a fish...the very same Napoleon wrasse who's featured in the "Portraiture" gallery of this website.
The flip-side to anthropomorphism is anthropocentrism and the accompanying prejudice of speciesism (human supremacy). It's only recently that scientific materialism has accepted consciousness for animals other than humans…something even most children realize through unbiased observation. As most divers know, aquatic animals go way beyond being "just fish."
“It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.” ~ Mark Twain
FOR A COMING EXTINCTION
This extraordinary poem by W.S. Merwin is addressed to a gray whale, a critically endangered species. It explores the unending burden that mankind must assume in the wake of needless extinction.
"For A Coming Extinction" was selected by Carol Muske-Dukes, Poet Laureate of California, to accompany "A Sea of Deceit and Capitulation"* – my article revealing the Obama administration's outrageous plan to lift the ban on commercial whaling at the intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in March of 2010.
A formidable coalition of anti-whaling forces ultimately defeated the U.S.-led plan to resume commercial whaling at the IWC summit in June of 2010. Ironically, W.S. Merwin became the first U.S. Poet Laureate to be chosen during Barack Obama’s incumbency in July of the same year.
OBJECTION TO COMPACT REVIEW CLAIMS
"Objection to Compact Review Claims" was sent in July of 2009 to the U.S. and Palau Compact of Free Association Review teams, as well as to Palau's National Congress, newspapers and relevant civic organizations. The Compact of Free Association (COFA) is a long-term agreement wherein the U.S. provides millions of dollars of aid annually to Palau.
My objection document detailed the detrimental nature of Palau Senate Bills' No. 8-44, 8-50 and 8-56. I argued that these bills were contrary to COFA terms and were inconsistent with Palau's claims of achieving environmental stewardship and economic security. Illuminating Palau's policy breaches triggered pressure over unfulfilled treaty obligations and the legitimacy of U.S. taxpayer funding for future aid.
This assertion helped compel Palau to eject its rapacious legislation. In a historic turnaround, Palau designated its 237,000 sq. miles of ocean as the "World's First National Shark Sanctuary" at the United Nations on Sept. 25, 2009.
SUMMATION OF PALAU BILLS
This report on Palau Senate Bills' No. 8-44, 8-50 and 8-56 was presented as an addendum to my "Objection to Compact Review Claims" sent to the U.S. and Palau Compact Review teams.
SB No. 8-44 to enable shark finning was immediately withdrawn once Palau's President designated his nation's EEZ as the "World's First National Shark Sanctuary" before the UN. Afterwards, both SB No. 8-50 and 8-56 were struck down by presidential veto.
SB No. 8-50 would have denied Palauans fish catch export tax along with assigning a foreign port as Palau's transshipment hub. Without tax revenue incentive and with catches bypassing Palau, regulatory oversight would have been removed – allowing the overshoot of catch quotas and rampant shark fishing & finning.
SB No. 8-56 would have devastated threatened Napoleon wrasse, Bumphead parrotfish and grouper species as well as Palau's conservation image.
Palau has now secured its environmental and economic well-being in preserving its marine heritage.
THE STAR THROWER
This is a tale for all those who feel compelled to make a difference. Let your actions speak for you...they will echo forever.
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
~ Aldous Huxley