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Friday, February 8, 2013

A Whale Of A Conservation Problem

While working in a large Hitachi R&D complex in Japan in the 1990’s, I ate daily in the large company cafeteria along with thousands of my Japanese colleagues. Noodles – warm in winter and cold in summer – along with many fish and tempura dishes were served. The dishes were quite nutritious and balanced with a variety of salads and Japanese delicacies from octopus and squid to natto (fermented soybeans) and hoshi-imo (dried yams) that were welcomed by the busy workforce.

But what was shocking to me was when small plates of whale meat were occasionally served. Sandwiched up between the salads and pickled vegetables in the cafeteria shelves, I had to do a double-take when my eye first saw the dish. “Whale?!?” I thought. “It can’t be; this is modern society.” But I checked the Japanese characters with my dictionary and then confirmed with my colleagues. Yes, it was in fact whale meat being served.

While initially surprising, my innate curiosity nearly led me to grab the dish for a taste. But my conservationist perspective put a halt to my thoughts. But it was served more than once. Always fried, the small chucks of whale meat looked like pieces of fried chicken. I understood the historic reasons for whale meat in the Japanese diet, but my mind always recalled the beautiful sounds of the whales that I heard while swimming in Hawaii. While I eat regularly beef and chicken, with an occasional buffalo burger or ostrich steak during my travels, I am most definitely not a vegetarian. But listening to whales is so much more appealing to my open water swimmer sensitivities than devouring their fried carcass.

The Hitachi plant is located close to the seaside near Ibaraki Prefecture’s main fishing port, so the cafeteria served a staggering number of marine products. The local sea produced much to keep the employees nutritionally energized, but I gladly grabbed a seaweed salad every time I saw the chucks of cetaceans. I could only imagine the wondrous sounds of the whales being replaced by cries of anguish as killing harpoons delved deeply in their blubber and bloody butchering on the decks of a whaling vessel.

But partly to changing dietary habits and foreign pressure, the demand for whale meat has fallen significantly in Japan. Commercial whaling was halted in 1986, but a clause in the International Whaling Commission convention allows countries like Japan and Iceland to hunt whales for research purposes. In Japan, the whale meat can be sold on the open market in order to cover the cost of this research. The International Fund for Animal Welfare reported this week that the thinly disguised commercial whaling practices have cost taxpayers US$378 million since 1987 without being offset by much value due to the research efforts.

Naoko Funahashi of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and a member of the International Whaling Commission reported, "There are very, very few findings which meet [scientific] aims." Other marine conservation biologists around the world believe similarly.

Masayuki Komatsu, a former Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official in Japan, believes there are Japan’s official annual target is 850 minke whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales. In 2005, the Japanese researchers killed 866 whales, but have stopped hunting humpbacks due to international pressure. Komatsu claims that the number of whales taken is far too small to achieve scientific significance and if the planned number of whales could be killed and analyzed, the data would shed light on the size and health of stocks, and the interaction of whales with their prey and the ecosystem.

But most biologists and others around the world do not agree that research require hunting and killing the whales.

The government subsidies are keeping alive an industry that is facing significantly reduced demand from the Japanese population and is placing an increasing heavier financial burden on the Japanese government at a time when economic conditions has stagnated.

In the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, Japan's four-vessel whaling fleet is now hunting minke and fin whales and being followed by the Sea Shepard Conservation Society that wishes to interrupt the annual hunt with its own four vessels, a helicopter, and drones.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Source

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

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