Next Dive Club Outing:

Memorial Day May 23-24 at Manchester Group site near Pt. Arena

and the Annual BCD Golden Abalone Cookoff!

Reigning Champ Curt "Get 'em While They're Hot" Haney

Guests are $12 a night. Free to club members.


NCUPS Annual Beach Dive Photo Competition - May 16th and 17th, Monterey

This is a one-day competition open to all underwater photographers and videographers of all experience levels. All photos (and videos), must be taken from beach dives along the Monterey coastline on Saturday, May 16. A panel of judges, comprised of professional photographers, will select the winners on Sunday, May 17, with the winners being announced and prizes awarded on Sunday afternoon.

editor's note: I won a weeks stay in an oceanfront condo in Belize off this competition


In other Ocean News:

Here's a few stories I've been following for quite some time:

European Parliament Bans Commercial Trade in Seal Products:

The European Parliament voted today to ban most seal products from the European market, eliminating a primary source of revenue for the world's seal hunters. This was not a good year for the Canadian seal hunt. Of the initial set quota of 280,000 seals, Canadian sealers were only able to slaughter 59,500 seals this year. Prices for pelts in 2009 dropped to 9€ (US$12), down by half from last year's prices, and as a result many sealers stayed home. Only 306 sealing enterprises from Newfoundland and Labrador took part in this year's hunt, compared with 977 last year, according to Larry Yetman, a resource management officer with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder and president Captain Paul Watson, a Canadian national, who for years has demonstrated against the seal hunt on the ice, " ... to see the sealing industry devastated like this is better than winning the lottery. I am more than pleased, I am ecstatic."

Controversial killing fleet tastes failure as Japanese lose their appetite for whale meat:

WHALING SEASON in Japan has been a relative failure this year. The fleet recently returned two weeks early to home port at Shimonoseki, after several months of clashes with protesters in the Antarctic Ocean, who effectively prevented the Japanese vessels from reaching their target quotas of 935 minke and 50 fin whales. "They need to kill at least 765 whales to break even," reported Sea Shepherd.

Another hunt was launched last week from the north-eastern port of Ayukawa, with the stated aim of catching at least another 60 minkes in domestic waters before the end of May. The Japanese fleet have caught and killed 679 Minke whales this year, and counting.

For their part, however, the public is not really buying. While the Japanese Fisheries Agency claims that up to 5000 tonnes of whale meat are consumed every year in this country, estimates suggest that at least 3000 tonnes are now sitting unwanted in cold storage.

Despite falling market prices, and regular government efforts to "educate" the population by way of academic lectures, food festivals, and compulsory school lunches, whale meat remains a dish that few modern Japanese have eaten more than twice. Not because it is scarce, they just don't like it.

Daiki Fukuda is owner of a traditional izakaya restaurant called Paddock, in the northern coastal prefecture of Ishikawa. His reasons for not serving whale meat are purely culinary. "It doesn't taste good," he says. "I think it's very strange to go hunting for whales near the South Pole when we have other meat and fish that are much more delicious. I tried whale meat once at school when I was a kid, and I hated it. We all did."

As Ayako Okubo of the Ocean Policy Research Foundation recently put it: "It's not that the Japanese want to eat whale meat they don't like being told not to eat it by foreigners."

This resentment is especially pronounced, because it was foreigners who told them to eat it in the first place. Only a few villages around the edges of Japan can claim a legitimate historical tradition of whaling. Most of the rest of the country had never tasted whale meat until after the second world war, when American occupation forces promoted it to the impoverished and malnourished populace as a relatively cheap and abundant source of protein.

Those who still claim to enjoy the taste tend to be older citizens and nostalgic baby-boomers. Japan's major political parties - all of which support whaling - are well stocked with those.

It's possible that the practice will die out as they do. But for now, says Nanami Kurasawa of Japan's Iruka and Kujira (dolphin and whale) Action Network, it is difficult for the small domestic anti-whaling lobby to be heard over the quasi-scientific rhetoric of politicians and the tacit, if silent, complicity of the general public.

Spotlight: Women's Divers Hall of Fame:

The Women Divers Hall of Fame™ (WDHOF) is an international non-profit professional honor society whose member contributions span a wide variety of fields including: The Arts, Science, Medicine, Sports, Exploration, Marine Archeology, Media, Service, Dive Training and Education, Safety, Business, Marine Environment and Conservation, Free Diving, Commercial Diving, and Military Diving.

WDHOF's two-part mission is to:

1. Recognize women divers who have made outstanding contributions to the exploration, understanding, safety and enjoyment of our underwater world and
2. Support the underwater world and its associated careers by promoting opportunities for women and men in diving through scholarships, internships and mentorship opportunities and a worldwide network of industry contacts.

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