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Save Ocean, save Earth. UK: no whale meat; Germany: honor Ric O'Barry for dolphins; EU: label oil/ tar sands as carbon-intensive

By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 15 November 2011

importing whale meat into the UK or Europe is in breach of international law

Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director for Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project and star of the hit documentary The Cove, will receive the Bambi Award in Germany.

Protesters outside the White House in Washington against TransCanada's proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would take oil extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and carry it through a pipeline cutting across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

Do not bring whale meat home from Iceland, British tourists told - Whale meat on sale at Keflavik airport prompts the Foreign Office to issue a warning to Britons at risk of breaching international law
Up to 70,000 Britons who visit Iceland each year have been given a stiff warning by the Foreign Office not to bring home any whale meat, saying to do so is in breach of international law protecting endangered species.

Penalties of imprisonment or fines up to £5,000 could be meted out by the courts, says the Foreign Office, because importation into Britain and other EU countries is illegal under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites).

The government has added the warning to its advice on travelling to Iceland after being alerted to the fact that whale meat is on sale at Keflavik airport. Environment department Defra, responsible for border checks on illegal food imports, said: "There have been no reports of whale meat on sale in the UK or being seized at the border."

Icelandic whalers are trying to win tourists over to their point of view, offering them the chance to go to see with them, feel harpoons and eat whale meat and blubber.

Within hours of the Foreign Office updating its travel advice to British tourists, warning that they faced possible imprisonment or fines of up to £5,000 if they brought home whale meat, authorities withdrew the food from sale at Keflavik airport.

Anti-whaling campaigners on the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society(WDCS) and Animal Welfare Institute had raised the issue with signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which makes it illegal to import the meat into the EU and other countries. Its removal from sale at the airport began on Wednesday night, a spokeswoman for Visit Iceland said on Thursday. It would be informing the Foreign Office of its action.

About 70,000 Britons a year visit Iceland and the WCDS is also alerting tourists to the part they may play in keeping Icelandic whaling alive, claiming that up to 40% of minke whale meat from local waters is eaten by visitors in local restaurants. Local whalers are also trying to win tourists over by offering them trips out to sea.

A WCDS spokesperson said: "We ask people who are thinking of going to Iceland to resist the temptation to give the meat a try despite what you may be told by local whale hunters. The fact is that only a small percentage of Icelandic people eat the meat these days. The whales suffer a long and slow death, they are not suitable as a species for human harvesting and, contrary to myth, they are not responsible for reducing local fish stocks."

Fish and chips… but are yours served with whale slaughter on the side?
Fish and chip lovers should ask their local chippie some serious questions about the source of their fish warns the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), after it discovered that much of the fish served by the country's 10,000 fish and chip shops comes from Icelandic fleets with close links to whaling. ‘We would never suggest people stop enjoying one of the UK's favourite dishes, but we do think that people and businesses need to consider the source of the fish they are buying and eating, and ask whether their purchase helps prop up whaling in Iceland.

WDCS has secured support from leading UK retailers. Waitrose, Sainsbury's and others have already confirmed they do not buy from HB Grandi and have warned the Icelandic Government of the UK public's opposition to whaling. Recently, after discussion with WDCS, the Findus Group, parent company of well-known brands Young's, Findus and The Seafood Company, agreed to take Grandi off its list of preferred suppliers. ‘We warmly welcome this commitment, and urge other suppliers to follow suit. Consumers really don't want to eat fish that pays for whaling, and big brands won't want to be seen as the bad guys on this issue.'

Ric O’Barry to Receive Prestigious Bambi Award in Germany - Nov. 10th Live Broadcast in Europe to Reach 5 Million
Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director for Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project and star of the hit documentary The Cove, will receive the oldest and most prestigious media award in Wiesbaden, Germany - the Bambi Award - on November 10th.

The awards show will be broadcast live during prime time throughout Europe to an estimated audience of 5 million people.

While Mr. O’Barry is pleased to be receiving the award, more important is the chance to reach such a wide audience with his message: Don’t buy a ticket to a captive dolphin show or swim with captive dolphins! Dolphins should be free and left to live their lives in the wild.

Other winners in the past of the Bambi award include Bill Clinton, Meg Ryan, Keanu Reeves, Tommy Hilfiger, Queen Rania of Jordan, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Silvia of Sweden, Britney Spears, Kate Winslet, Orlando Bloom, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Ric’s and Earth Island’s efforts to protect dolphins from being slaughtered in Japan was the story of The Cove, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records for winning more film festival awards than any other documentary in history.

The Bambi Award was established in 1948, and is awarded to people who have had an enduring effect on audiences and the public and have made the world a better place.

The Dolphin Project was established on Earth Day 1970 by Richard O'Barry and Fred Neil and is dedicated to abolishing the billion-dollar dolphin slave trade.

O’Barry will be honored for his work with Save Japan Dolphins and Earth Island Institute as well as The Cove, which won the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary and has won more film festival awards than any other documentary.

EU climate chief: science shows Canada oil sand risk
* Hedegaard says science shows oil sands more polluting
* Britain, others lend backing to Canada in fight against EU
* Environmentalists firmly back European Commission stance

BRUSSELS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The European Commission's plans to class fuel from oil sands, including Canada's, as highly polluting are based on science and it will proceed with talks with EU member states to implement the measure, its climate commissioner said on Thursday.

Canada, which has huge deposits of the unconventional crude oil, has hit back fiercely at a European Union proposal to label oil sands as carbon-intensive, in a ranking designed to help fuel suppliers choose the most environmentally friendly option.

Canada fears the ranking could damage the market for its oil. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has said the Commission's proposal is based on politics, not science. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard denied that it is politically motiviated. "We have the knowledge and the fact that oil sands are more CO2-polluting than other kinds of fuel," Hedegaard told a conference in Brussels. "And therefore we say it should have a specific value. It's nothing targeted against this particular fuel. We are doing that with all our different biofuels. It's the same methodology that we are applying for different things in the same directive," she said. "And now we are discussing this also with our member states, with the Commission, which has proposed this."

The 2008 fuel quality directive assigns greenhouse gas emissions values for a range of transport fuels, most of which were dealt with by the end of last year. After earlier lobbying by Canada delayed the process, it was only provisionally approved earlier this month that oil sands would be included in the EU's fuel quality directive.

The news on Oct. 4 triggered another round of lobbying by Canada, which has won the support within the 27-member European Union from Britain and Eastern European states, EU sources said.

Environmental groups have strongly supported the Commission. "Canada's plans for tar sands will put the world on track for 6 degrees of warming, way past the globally accepted limit of 2 degrees," said Franziska Achterberg of Greenpeace.

"Six degrees would be game over."

The proposed ranking assigns oil sands crude a default greenhouse gas value of 107 grams of carbon per megajoule, compared with 87.5 grams for conventional oil. Two of the other unconventional fuel sources have higher values than oil sands. They are oil shale at 131.3, found in EU-member Estonia, and coal-to-liquid at 172.

The EU has a set of 2020 goals to make its energy mix more environmental, including cutting the amount of carbon it releases by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels. As part of that target it has agreed to reduce the carbon intensity of its transport fuels by 6 percent.

Skidmore students join thousands in Washington, D.C. protest - protestors express objections to Keystone XL and hydrofracking

On Nov. 6, 65 students traveled to Washington, D.C., to join 12,000 people protesting against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project as part of a committee organized by the Environmental Action Club.

TransCanada, a Canadian oil and gas conglomerate, proposed this $7 billion project to transport Tar Sands Oil over 1,500 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast. This would involve sending highly toxic materials over most of America's heartland, including the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the country, and through the fields that supply most of the country's wheat.

Once in Washington, D.C., students stayed in St. Stephen's Church overnight, as per the original schedule, which was briefly changed to a one-day trip before the EAC reverted it back to its original format. On Sunday, organizers of the occupation addressed people against the issues of the Keystone XL Pipeline and hydrofracking, a drilling process that threatens to contaminate public drinking water.

"We want to act, to put our bodies on the line to show Obama that this was something that really impacted us," said Eliza Sherpa '14, vice president of the Environmental Action Club, "We want to show him that his constituents feel really strongly about this, and are willing to take action."

At 3 p.m. protesters encircled the White House with posters, t-shirts and costumes, including polar bear costumes worn by members of the Alaska Wilderness League, a group working to preserve Alaska's wilderness.

Slogans included, "Hey Obama, we don't need no pipeline drama" and " Tell me what democracy looks like?" The protests ended at 5 p.m. without any arrests.

Margot Reisner '14, president of the EAC, organized the trip along with Sherpa in order to combat a problem that at its base, she said, represents many core problems found throughout American politics today.

"[Keystone XL] touches on a lot of different issues that we have in our country from government corruption to hydrofracking to issues of transportation," Reisner said. "All these issues are coming together in one form - the pipeline, which we really just need to stop. "

The protest was held one year before the next election in order to remind President Barack Obama of his agency in this issue, Sherpa and Reisner said. "The pipeline isn't something that has to go through Congress or any government body. Obama is the sole decider," Sherpa said.

TransCanada says Keystone XL has the potential to be a large future source of employment but, however, both Sherpa and Reisner disagree with its projected numbers. "Most of the jobs will be outsourced," Reisner said. "At most, 5,000 jobs will be created."

Among the damage created from the pipeline, the process of Tar Sands Extraction is extremely water heavy, with an average of three barrels of water to a barrel of oil. This leads to a massive amount of stagnant, polluted and unusable water that is left to sit in collecting pools, where chemicals like Ammonia and Cyanide can leech into the local water supply.

TransCanada's previous Keystone pipeline has a history of seven leaks in the first year of its existence. Sherpa and Reisner described the future potential oil spill as having the capability to equal the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, when approximately 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of three months.

No decisions have been made about the pipeline, and the Obama administration announced this week that it is putting off the decision until after the 2012 elections. Reisner and Sherpa hope President Obama will make a final decision in support of the protesters.

"A lot of the people who care about these issues and who were at these rallies really worked hard to get Obama into office because we thought he represented change and hope and all these things," Reisner said. "Now we're holding him accountable to all these promises that he made to us when we got him into office. He said all those things in his campaign and now he forgot all of that and let the tyranny of oil take away his backbone."

Sherpa and Reisner were pleased with the success of the event. "We brought 65 students to this rally, which is a really big thing for Skidmore," Sherpa said. "Skidmore students are active, are civically engaged and really do care about these issues of moving our world away from fossil fuels, and that's something we're willing to fight for and need to be working for on our campus, in our state and in our country."

Keystone XL protests will continue throughout the year and the EAC will continue to promote protests and rallies. An account of the protest by Katherine Cavanaugh '14 can be found in Features.


Photos courtesy Reuters, Jonas Fr. Thorsteinsson /,, Examiner,, AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite, and Sierra Club - Nebraska Chapter

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