A Whale Call for Help

Although considered a mostly ancient practice fit for the likes of men such as Captain Ahab in the novel Moby Dick, whaling is in fact still exercised today. No other country practices whaling quite like Japan, who according to an article featured on The New York Times’ website on October 13th of this year, has slaughtered approximately 3,600 whales since 2005.
Despite International Sanctions laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan has continued to kill these creatures via a loophole in the Commission’s regulations. In 1986, the Commission banned commercial whaling, but according to an article on the National geographic website, Article Eight of the 1986 ban warranted the killing of whales for scientific purposes. Therefore, Japanese whaling cruisers have been donned with “research”, written in English on their sides, in order to justify their murdering of whales. These cruisers claim that the Japanese government is collecting tissue samples of the whales in order to gather scientific data on certain whale species, such as minke whales.

 

Whale tied to the side of a japanese "research" vessel.
Whale tied to the side of a Japanese “research” vessel.

Japan has been able to carry on with their whaling practices for quite some time, until the International Court of Justice ruled in March of this year that Japan’s hunt for whales was not attributed to scientific purposes, but rather commercial ones under their whaling program in the Antarctic (JARPA II). Although Leah Gerber, a marine mammal biologist at Arizona State University in Tempe stated that Japan does collect some of the whales’ organs for use in research, a vast majority of the whales captured by Japanese vessels goes to market, where it’s sold for consumption. In fact, only two peer-reviewed scholarly articles have been produced from years of “scientific whaling”. This information was taken from an article published on National Geographic’s website on March 31st.
The suit was brought to the UN court by Australia, and Japan issued a statement claiming they would abide by the court’s ruling, until they created a new whaling program to go around the restrictions issued to them after the trial. The New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean (NEWREP-A) focusses on killing 333 minke whales per year over 12 years, meaning by the program’s end in 2027, 3,996 more whales will be killed. The plan is to be reviewed by the IWC first, but while it is still in the process of revising it, the IWC has no legal authority to block the resumption of “research whaling”. This information was extracted from an article posted in November, 2014 on the Whaling and Dolphin Commission’s website.
Although whaling for scientific research is merited, Japan will continue to kill whales for commercial practices under a “scientific” banner. Perhaps the IWC can set regulations on just how many whales a country is allowed to kill for scientific purposes, on top of banning commercial whaling. But until a solution such as that arises, whales in the Antarctic and elsewhere will be murdered nonetheless. For science, eh?

REFERENCES:

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/opinion/the-big-lie-behind-japanese-whaling.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%221%22%3A%22RI%3A7%22}&_r=0

National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140331-whaling-japan-international-court-ocean-animal-conservation/ , http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140331-whaling-japan-international-court-ocean-animal-conservation/

Whale and Dolphin Commission: http://us.whales.org/news/2014/11/business-usual-japan-publishes-new-research-whaling-plan

 

The Bird that Tweets Gets the Worm

Twitter is a very useful social media platform used to foster and maintain relationships via the exchange of 140 characters or less messages, or tweets. The site has been utilized by many to creatively share information with the twitter public and garner a following of users whom are all commonly interested in their posts’ content. However, farmers are some of the last ones to adopt this valuable networking tool, despite its multiple uses. Farmers and agricultural professionals in general should start using twitter in order to more easily educate and facilitate relationships with the general public.

Twitter is the third most popular social media site, with over a billion users and 255 million active monthly users. (Digital Insight). Such a substantial audience is very useful for communicators and public relations professionals, and can be for farmers as well. A single tweet has the potential to be seen by tens or hundreds of thousands of users, making it possible to convey a message directly to more people than ever before.

Twitter has over 255 million monthly active users. 500 million tweets are sent per day.
Twitter has over 255 million monthly active users who send 500 million tweets per day.

 

There are many different ways one can send a message on twitter. According to the article “A Little Birdie Told Me About Agriculture:Best Practices and Future Uses of Twitter in Agricultural Communications”, there are many different types of user intentions on the site. These intentions include reporting the news, participating in the common chat of the site by reading others tweets, engaging in conversations by replying to posts, and sharing information, photos, and links to outside information sources.

Will Gilmer, a Dairy Farmer and Sulligent, Alabama native uses his Twitter to give his followers an idea of the daily procedures and occurrences of farm life, such as calf births, cow vaccinations, etc.  Gilmer believed it to be the farmer’s responsibility to update consumers and let them see how animals are handled. In an interview with FarmWeek, Gilmer said of whose role it is to inform the public as to where their milk comes from: “It might as well be us”. The rest of Gilmer’s twitter story can be seen here:

It is drastically important that the consumer be informed by the farmer and not a third party considering that now, more than ever, consumers are doubting legitimacy of farming practices in a field that is becoming increasingly controversial. Twitter provides an outlet in which farmers can not just deliver a message to the public, but also receive feedback on the deliverance of the message. This feedback allows Farmers to maintain relationships with the people they serve by answering their questions about farm life and genuinely interacting with their audience. This two-way relationship farmers maintain on the site can lead to more favorable opinions of farm practices and farmers themselves.

As stated in the Article “To Bother or Not to Bother? Media Relationship Development Strategies of Agricultural Communication Professionals”, “Existing research suggests that effective media relations can enhance the amount of media coverage devoted to agricultural information.” Therefore, effective media relations, such as the ones farmers have with their followers on twitter, can lead to an increase in general interest in agriculture and its coverage. If people see interesting stories regarding farm life, they will be more inclined to demand more media coverage of farm-related events.

Farmers can benefit from tweeting in numerous ways. Tweeting can help to educate the public real-time on farming practices, lead to a more positive public opinion of agriculture, and create relationships with followers that can help to eliminate controversy within the agricultural field. So why wouldn’t they take advantage of this useful tool, especially in a time where mobile technology and personal computers are at their most accessible? We’ve gone digital, and it’s about time farmers did the same.

References:

Daily insight info-graphic: http://blog.digitalinsights.in/social-media-users-2014-stats-numbers/05205287.html

FarmWeek “Dairyman Uses Social Media to Tell Public About Agriculture” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXpYw0W1Ylg

“A Little Birdie Told Me About Agriculture:Best Practices and Future Uses of Twitter in Agricultural Communications”: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/230888183_A_Little_Birdie_Told_Me_About_Agriculture_Best_Practices_and_Future_Uses_of_Twitter_in_Agricultural_Communications

“To Bother or Not to Bother? Media Relationship Development Strategies of Agricultural Communication Professionals”: http://journalofappliedcommunications.org/images/stories/issues/2008/jacv92n3-4.pdf