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DIVE LOG EDITORIAL - Standards for divers.
SANCTUARY TOO FAR AWAY - Whale sanctuary in the Pacific.
I have been critical of the Japanese government for their destruction of whales "in the name of scientific research" but I fear that we Australians have to clean up our own backyard also. The seals on Macquarie Island, halfway between Tasmania and the Antarctic continent, have been subjected to inhumane abuse since the devastation of their population in the early 19th century for their oil. This ended after several decades of cruelty, and the animals were left in peace for a while - until it was time to conduct "scientific research" on their habitat and population. For the past half century, marine, bird and terrestial life at Macquarie Island hve been harrassed in the name of "scientific research". In 2001, the public became aware of a horrific process of hot-iron branding of seals, with large numbers several inches high. The process had commenced in 1993, and thousands of seals had been branded in the eight years.  The injuries to most of the animals were quite horrific. A public outcry put a stop to the barbaric practice. Now, according to a recent television program, the seals are again subjected to harrassment, in the name of "scientific research"; not by hot-iron branding, but by intrusion into their habitat, and by fixing tracking transmitters on some seals by a strong adhesive to their back. Images of festering flesh after the transmitters have sheared off was most disturbing - and I wager that there is not a proceedure to remove the transmitter after its usefulness. It appears that Dr. Mark Hindell of the Zoology Department of the University of Tasmania heads the "scientific research" program, with the objective of studying the supposed decline in the seal population on the island. It appears that "research expeditions" have been going to Macquarie Island annually and never stopped after the hot-iron branding attrocity. As the reporter quite rightly noted, perhaps the seal population has diminished due to unwanted attention from scientists and graduates who were shown to use long sticks to beat off animals, and just their mere presence is enough to upset such a habitat. If the university would like to listen, I can advise how I can help their research budget.  Give me the $100,000 that it costs (at least) to undertake such research, and I will give you a simple, one page, one paragraph conclusion - if you want the popultion to increase - leave them alone. Better still, use the money saved to undertake serious research that may benefit our waters - the Grey Nurse needs a bit of help at the moment. 
For further details, some of which you will find disturbing, see the Tasmanian Conservation Trust's website, specifically their October 2001 Newsletter at http://www.tct.org.au/n17c.htm.
The Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria reports in their informative newsletter that yet another study is underway on the future of the Cerberus off Black Rock, Port Phillip. There is some interest now in restoring, or at least protecting from furthr deterioration, this world unique vessel. Unfortunately, the cost would b well over $2 million, and as it is Sandringham Council property, they certainly would not have the funds to do it, and will need support from state and federal governments. I remembr thirty years ago, historian/author Peter Williams said it must be restored, but no action was taken. In the early 1980s, I took author Cliv Cussler to Black Rock to see the vessel. He was amazed at what he saw, and was prticularly interested in seeing it preserved because he had found the Monitor, a not dissimilar vessel. The Cerberus is named after the three-haded dog in Greek mythology, and she was certainly a dog of a ship. But her historic importance cannot be underestimated. (2002)
Those of you who have had the pleasure of diving Papua New Guinea and meeting the remarkable indigenous people will be saddened to hear that although the government was 'seriously' looking at curtailing further forrest logging in the country, they have accepted an offer of several billions dollars to log no less than five million acres of old growth forrest. When you are strapped for cash, you have to be practical, but this is a terrible act, and other countries, more wealthy than PNG, should assist them in order to protect the world environment. No need to say who has dangled the carrot, or should I say, the chili - Malaysia of course, whose government and major business interests couldn't give a damn about the environment - in someone elses country. The PNG government however deny that they have issued more logging licenses. And indeed, this is possibly so. What they have done is issue 'road building permits' into the forrests. This allows the 'road builders' to clear a pathway of many hundreds of metres wide and hundreds of kilometres long, meandering through the forrest, on the pretext that the 'road' will assist the ingigenous people in reaching th coast. What do the indigenous people think. Who knows, as nobody hs bothered to ask them. (2002)
Did you know that 'scientists' in Japan have added a gene from a particular jellyfish  to the DNA of a Zebra fish to make it glow in the dark. This will increase its value as an aquarium fish. I suppose such manipulations were bound to happen, and we can 'look forward' to a range of 'weird and wonderful' genetically modified fish to suit out amusement. This would not be allowed if the subject was an animal, but with fish - well, they just dont matter do they? After all, it is nothing for us to see on television a fish flapping about in the bottom of a boat in its last death throes, or a harmless marlin strung up for sporting pleasure. Over the next ten years we will see a surge in 'modified' sea creatures, simply for our amusement. (I see also that the Australian Museum is going to clone a Tasmanin Tiger. Well, that will be fun for the scientists, and no doubt a great achievement if you believe in such things. Watch out for the fascinating litigation when their offspring end up in the wild, doing damage to property and person. Wont the lawyers have fun with this). (2002)
To give you some idea of the stupidity and incompetence that the concerned public have to deal with, consider these quotes from the NSW Director of Fisheries, Mr Steve Dunn on ABC Radio, 28 May, 2002, regarding the Grey Nurse Sharks.
"There is only anecdotal evidence of the number of Grey Nurse Sharks with hooks in them."
Here he chooses to totally ignore the four years of data collection undertaken by his own  department.The fact is that on Sunday 26-05-02 of the thirty-two Gray Nurse Sharks on the Pinnacle off Forster, twenty-six had hooks in them.
"It is naive to believe that banning fishing in areas will stop them getting hooked."
How else are they getting hooked? Are they doing it themselves? What a ridiculous comment. 
"We really dont know the numbers of the population (of the Grey Nurse Sharks) and whether the population is increasing or decreasing."
Here he directly contadicts the Overview ot the NSW Draft Recovery Plan, quote from this document, "Their abundance in NSW waters has declined significantly in recent decades."
"We have to educate people to stop catching them in the first place."
And thats true; but how naieve. How does he propose to so this? I thought we establish laws so that people knew their legal responsibilities and acted in accord for the benefit of the society in which they live. 
The submission time has passed.

Is this what protection of our marine 
species is all about?

Grey Nurse shark with large stainless
steel hook and line embedded in jaw,
taken at Seal Rocks, NSW. All in 
the name of sport!!


Contact  greynurse@yahoo.com
and have them email you the pdf file Extinction for Grey Nurse Shark.pdf
This is a most disturbing report and not at all pleasant to read.
Also contact Ron Harding at
ron@diveforster.com.au or see www.diveforster.com.au for further details.
Contact the NSW Minister for Fisheries, and the Premier, demanding the end of fishing in prime Grey Nurse areas.
Contact Threatened Species Unit (Grey Nurse Shark)
NSW Fisheries, Private Bag 1, Nelson Bay, NSW, 2315. Fax: (02) 4916 3880
And request their Draft Grey Nurse Recovery Plan.
And place a written, or on line submission 

Save the Grey Nurse from extinction - we can do it if we have the courage and compassion. Submission must be made no later than 28 June 2002 - but it may still help to voice your opinion. 

Further Grey Nurse links:
Information regarding the consultation process and the Discussion Paper can be viewed at:

The Recovery Plan for Grey Nurse Sharks in Australia can be found at:


The Japanese whaling lobby have opposed the right for the indiginous people of Alaska, the Eskimos, and other indigenous peoples, to take whales for food, on the grounds that it is against "their principles". What absolute bloodyminded hypocracy is that?

The following extracts from The Age newspaper (without permission, but with respect), gives you some idea of the hypocracy of the whole whaling situation.

By Shane Green, Tokyo correspondent for The Age . May 24 2002

Eventually, the obvious and most important question came. For the best part of eight hours, Japan had brought the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission to a halt, blocking an agreement over quotas for subsistence whaling by aboriginal communities. British Fisheries Minister Eliot Morley, who endured the session, went so far as  to say that Tokyo had gone for the "nuclear option" of wrecking the workings of  the IWC. As the issue developed yesterday, the Eskimos of Alaska and the Russian Chukotka  people probably felt the same way when, for the first time in 70 years, they were denied the right to their whale catch after Japan forced a vote. 

So then to the main question. Why, in the face of such hostile international reaction, did Japan persist in its efforts to resume commercial whaling? If Japan's Joji Morishita paused at all before answering, it was only for a second. "From Japan's point of view," he said, "this is an issue of principle."

And with those simple words, the official from Japan's Fisheries Agency answered  the question that has perplexed most of the Western world, countries that have opposed Japan's relentless attempts to lift the two-decade ban on commercial whaling.

There has been much talk of cultural differences, and in part, they are important. But in essence it comes down to a principle for Japan. For a principle, also read honour, and even loss of face. In money terms, the world's second largest economy has little to lose. At best, there are about 500 jobs depending on Japan's "scientific" hunt of close to 600 whales a year. But as Mr Morishita explained, this isn't about protecting what was left of the nation's whaling industry. If Japan allowed what it believed to be a "gross neglect" of international law and science to proceed, it would create a precedent in a world that increasingly relies on international law. Mr Morishita's answer goes a long way to explaining Tokyo's consistent stand at each meeting of the commission and why it it is prepared to take on opposition led by Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Britain.

Japan remains Australia's biggest export destination, and at most levels, Canberra does all it can to strengthen the ties. Yet when it comes to whaling, we remain divided. So it was this week when Australia and the other anti-whaling nations faced off against Japan and the pro-whaling nations in the annual, week-long festival of power politics, good and bad science and powerful emotion. Japan has been the host country for the whaling commission conference, and pointedly chose Shimonoseki, the former commercial whaling port in far western Japan, which still earns about 200 million yen a year from the country's "scientific" whaling program.

The Japanese made the most of being on home, whale-friendly turf. In a small tent outside the commission's conference, Japanese Whaling Association members wore T-shirts bearing messages such as "Whales increase, fisheries decrease, people are in trouble". This is Japan's "scientific" case - whales are eating the fish that humans need. Whale meat was also available from the tent.

It was the way the numbers stacked up on the conference floor rather than the whale-meat tent outside that mattered. In the lead-up to the conference, there was talk that Tokyo might get a simple majority. To lift the ban on commercial whaling, it needed three-quarters of the votes. But a simple majority would have  enabled it to influence the proceedings of the commission. The first few ballots demonstrated clearly that it was still a few votes short. Conservation groups had talked up Japan's efforts at vote-buying through aid. A late addition  to the conference was that great whaling nation Mongolia, landlocked as it is. 

As it turned out, Mongolia was indeed pro-whaling. But had they sold out to Japan? "Time and again, we are told about this, as if Japan bought us," said Bold Suh-Ochir, of Mongolia's Foreign Ministry. "Time and again, I answer them that this participation question in the IWC is not on sale." The oceans were the common heritage of mankind, said Mr Bold. Other landlocked nations such as Austria and Switzerland were also members. Of course, Japan and Mongolia had a "comprehensive partnership", he said. "We consult each other and, of course, support each other."

There is indignation and outrage among the alleged "bought" nations. Taking US President George Bush's cue, this week they named the anti-whaling nations, including Australia, the "axis of intolerance". "What we're seeing in this organisation is that a few countries who have a tremendous amount of influence in the international community are trying to dictate exactly how decision-making is done in the organisation," said Daven Joseph, a powerful orator from Antigua and Barbuda. "It's being done in a way in which small, vulnerable countries are being railroaded. Our views are not being tolerated, our views are not being heard, and as a result of that, there is a high degree of intolerance that is being shown by those countries," he said. His country and five other small east Caribbean states are among the pro-whaling  bloc. While denying they have been bought, they also make no secret of what Japanese aid is doing for their nations. In a publication for the conference, they reveal that Japan has contributed $US200 billion to their nations.

At the very least, this sort of commitment would certainly make these nations well disposed towards Tokyo. It also demonstrates that this isn't simply about whales, but more complex questions about what the aid does for developing nations. Japan, too, reacts angrily to suggestions of vote-buying. "Just try to find a developing country that doesn't receive aid from Japan," says famed whaling commission member Masayuki Komatsu.

Yet there was at least one Caribbean state not always pro-Tokyo. On the vote on the plan by Australia and New Zealand for a South Pacific whale sanctuary, St Vincent and the Grenadines abstained. 

Australia and New Zealand didn't get the required two-thirds majority, but the 24-16 vote in favour, with five abstentions, made both countries happy, securing  an extra four votes on last year.

But for the anti-whaling nations, any celebrations were muted. Japan's move to force the vote on the whale quotas for the Eskimos and Chukotka showed that even  without a simple majority it could still deliver what many countries described as a "black day" for the IWC. The quotas are supported by the anti-whaling nations because they are vital to the survival of these communities. It may seem perplexing that Japan should stop the catching of whales, until taken in the context of the commission's decision earlier to deny Japan's coastal communities the right to catch 50 minke whales. For Tokyo, it is all a matter of principle.

LONG VOYAGE TO PROTECT THE WHALE   (THE AGE editorial, Thursday, 23 May, 2002)
Australia should continue to press for a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific.

A Japanese commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, Masayuki Komatsu, criticised Australia and New Zealand this week for not giving up on their proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the South Pacific. The latest IWC meeting at Shimonoseki, Japan, was the third time the countries had tried to create the sanctuary; it was also the third time the proposal failed to win the two-thirds  majority required. After the defeat (24 nations voted for the plan, 16 voted against and five abstained) Mr Komatsu rhetorically asked: "How many times does this proposal have to be defeated before they'll get the point the IWC was never intended to be a protectionist organisation?" 

The commission was set up under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was signed in 1946. The purpose of the convention was to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry. 

However, the complete protection of certain species and the designation of specified areas as whale sanctuaries are also part of the IWC's duties, as is the compilation of catch reports and other statistical and biological'records. As whales become more endangered, the IWC' s role as a conservation body has become more important. A moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since 1986; the industry only continues to exist where the international agreement is ignored. Norway refuses to accept the ban and has been whaling since 1993. Japan undertakes "scientific" whaling expeditions in the north Pacific and Antarctica; the meat is sold in Japanese supermarkets and restaurants. This year Japan ignored the commercial ban and imported cheaper whale meat from Norway in an attempt to revive a taste for it among young Japanese. This year, too,. Iceland - another pro- whaling nation - was defeated in its bid to rejoin the IWC without signing up moratorium. 

It is important that Australia and New Zealand not give up their attempts to create a- South Pacific sanctuary; certainly their adversaries in the IWC appear determined to continue lobbying for a return to commercial whaling. The fact that landlocked Mongolia . has recently joined the commission, as well as small, remote countries such as Cape Verde and Palau - all of them reportedly pro-whaling - has led to accusations that the Japanese are buying votes. The accusations have been denied, but the controversy suggests that the fight to make the seas safe for whales is far from over. A South Pacific whale sanctuary, extending from the equator to the Southern Ocean sanctuary and east to Pitcairn Island, would allow the region's great whale populations, which remain seriously depleted, to recover. We hope the bid succeeds at next year's IWC meeting in Berlin. 
And here's a thought... from Letters to the Editor, The Age,  Thursday, 23 May, 2002 
The Japanese Government has been sending a message that there is no difference between eating lamb meat and whale meat. There is a very big difference in the cruelty involved. If the only way we could have a steak was by harpooning a cow, then letting it drag around the paddock for several minutes before it died, most Australians would become vegetarians. 
Vincent Serventy, Pearl Beach, NSW 
Is this perhaps the same (Dr) Vincent Serventy, one of Australia's most dedicated and brilliant naturalists and authors. 
(Thanks to Steve Bird for bring my attention to som of these matters.)

One of our clients contacted us recently and commented on a documentary that he had seen on TV some time ago, on the Japanese whaling industry. He said that the Japanese were extremely (and uncharacteristically) frank about it all. They showed the camera crew through the ‘research area' in a factory vessel (sorry research vessel), a very tiny room in a huge ship. However, the area where they break down the carcass and process the meat it was huge!!. The Japanese government minister responsible for whaling basically said that no one really considers the activity necessary ("nobody really eats whale much anymore"), but in true Japanese style said that they do it as a symbolic act to show the western world that they can't be pushed around - and to hold onto an icon of 'japaneseness'. My client related the attitude of the Japanese (government) to their inability to apologise for crimes committed during and pre the Pacific War. 
An article in The Herald and Weekly Times (24 October 2001), by fishing writer Steve Cooper, amusingly titled, "Sorting fact from fantasy", raises some issues to which I invite comment.  Mr Cooper immediately destroys his credibility by an attack on "greenies". Considering the problems of our troubled world at the moment, I would have thought that such emotive generalisations were no longer 'politically correct' and certainly not warranted from a responsible journalist, but that merely sets Mr Cooper's credentials; it is his "facts from fantacy" that concern me, his comment on marine life through his 'observations'. 
Mr Cooper states (and I do not write this out of context):
"If man is the most destructive creature on Earth - as some claim - then the seal is equally destructive in its environment."
Mr Cooper waffles on to say that seals will take a fish, "toss them around", and then dive down for another, infering that the seal wantonly destructs for play, not necessarily for food. He is concerned that the seals of south-eastern Australia take 448,000 tons of fish each year - compared to the combined commercial and recreational catch of 7000 tons. (He speaks of culling and harvesting seals but that is a separate issue on which he does not dwell). He is concerned that seals have diminished a penguin colony (at Montague Island), noteing that the decrease in penguins was "in proportion to the increase in seals".
"Of course, the seals might not be feasting on the penguins; perhaps they are just killing them for the sake of it"."Nor do I have much sympathy for the penguins. They also kill indiscriminantly. I have seen penguins swim around live baits, kill the baitfish, and then move, and kill another, with no attempt made to eat the dead fish". 
Now on a roll, Mr Cooper vents his frustrations on other marine life.
"Swans are another annoyance. Go to any estuary or bay where swans aare nesting and feeding and check out the weed rotting along the shoreline. Many people blame commercial netting for this, but swans are a major culprit as they pull the seagrasses out from the seabed.".
"... and what of cormorants, or shags, and pelicans? These are birds that some claim eat more than their bodyweight in fish every day and will quite literally gorge themselves on fish until they aare too heavy to fly".
He ends with an emotional and confrontational comment, with, I can only presume, a measure of sarcasm.
"But of course, it is anglers who do all the damage. We tear out the weed, destroy fish stocks and endanger wildlife ... at least according to the greens. I fuilly support protection of the environment, but I do get a bit sick of the anti-fishing lobby groups who make claims based on false perceptions".
False percentions, eh Mr Cooper?
I welcome comment on the matters raised by Mr Cooper, in particular the assertions that seals and penguins kill for pleasure. And would a seal take penguin?  Email me.
Peter Stone, 30 October, 2001
What you said.
That the Japanese goverment continues to condone the killing of whales is bad enough - but they seem to treat the rest of the world as complete morons in their naive attempt to justify such killings. Masayuki Komatsu, "a leading diplomat" has publicly stated that the MInke whales are "... the cockroaches of the sea. There are too many and they are swimming too quick.They are sinking many ships."  This is obviously  absurd, but it demonstrates two things - firstly, that the Japanese are trying new strategies of argument as their "killing for scientific research" is gaining little credibility; and secondly, that the Japanese seem to treat the rest of the world with disdain, and superiority of their own rightousness - just as they did fifty years ago. To add to my personal condemnation of their atitude, they are now bribing third world countries, members of the International Whaling Commission, by offers of aid if they vote Japan's way - or elimination of aid if they already receive it. Komatsu's response, "In order to get appreciation of Japan's position... that is natural that we must do ... there is nothing wrong". Furthermore, Komatsu taunts the US and Australia by implying that we have a military power, suggesting that we would use threat of force to get our way with the smaller nations. "You may dispatch your military power to East Timor." What on earth is this man talking about? I condemn the Japanese government for what they are doing to the whales, but moreso for their lies, bribes, and arrogance. 
Peter Stone, Australia.
13 August 2001. In a recent newspaper article it was reported that: 
Japanese whaler's received a hero's welcome when they returned to port from a three month "scientific" hunt with 158 whale carcases that will be sold as gourmet meat aand blubber. Government officials presented bouquets to the 180 crew of the Nisshin Maru, the last of a six-vessel fleet to return from a controversial; hunt in the Pacific.
To justify their blantant disregard of conservation issues, the Japanese head of the fisheries agency, Yoshiaki Watanabe, said that:
We are committed to continue the whaling program because our research benefits the marine resources of the entire world.
What a load of rubbish. Why do the Japanese continue to taunt the rest of the world with their ignorant and condescending attitude? Try writing to the Japanese consulate in your country and ask them for a copy of this research that is so benefical to the world. 
The Melbourne Herald Sun reported that a record catch had been hooked off Nelson Bay - a hammerhead shark "believed to be the largest ever caught". The 358 kg, 4m "monster" was caught by 43 year old angler Tony Eastwood of Broken Bay near Sydney. Eastwood posed triumphantly with his prize - "a great start to the NSW interclub game fishing tournament". "It took just 45 minutes to reel in the shark but ten people to drag the catch on to the boat." I am sure that most divers would like to congratulate Mr Eastwood for not hiding behind his doubtful intelligence. How any resonable person could derive any form of pleasure in killing any living creature for the sake of sport is beyond me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if those who kill for pleasure just take a good look at their children and ask themselves if they are doing the right thing. On the other hand, rather than attempt to instill some intelligence into testosterone-blown people like Eastwood, it may be simpler to hang them by their testicles next to their "prize". 
2 March 1999 (Previously included on the Dive Australia page). Peter Stone.
Conservation and the protection of the sea and the creatures within it is given a high profile by all western governments, but when it comes to genuine protection which may cost loss of revenue or may upset the business interests of the countries leaders, such expressed concerns are only pathetic lip service. I am disgusted at the grounding of the Mexican registered ship on the Great Barrier Reef in 2000, and more recently, the wreck of the oil tanker in the Galapagos. Mishaps will occur, that there is no doubt. But surely the respective governments of Australia and Equador can recognise the potential disaster that such shipwrecks can cause. So why not ban shipping within a reasonable disatnce from such world heritage sites - perhaps five hundred miles. So what if a ship has to travel further to avoid these once pristine regions. The reason is of course profit, and the inability of the government to stand up to the pressures of the oil and shipping companies. One wonders how much back-pocket finance goes on in allowing these companies to travel inside the GBR, or close to the Galapagos. It is a disgraceful situation. 
Peter Stone, Yarram, Australia
Update - it was recently reported (February 2001) that the oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef will be "cleaned up" by March, but that there could no guarantee that it could not happen again. Next time it could be even worse. What is our government doing? No wonder we have such a poor reputation for our attitude toward the environment. 
LEAFY SEA DRAGON - UPDATE (From Kangaroo Island Diving Safaris)
Leafy Sea Dragons are now the South Australian Official Sate Marine emblem. One of the primary objectives this season is to film in the wild the transfer of eggs from the female LSD to the male LSD. This has never been witnessed before. Earlier this year we were able to assist Koji Ozaki in capturing on film the hatching of the Leafy Sea Dragon in the wild. It is a world first on High Definition Digital. This has since been screened as a documentary in Japan As of 14th November we are keeping a courting pair of LSD under close observation as we hope to witness the transfer of eggs from the female to the male. Both of these creatures are known to us from the last 3 years. For more up to date observations on the dragons look at our web site www.kidivingsafaris.com Water temperatures are currently 17Deg. C and warming towards our summer average of 20Deg. C Weedy Sea dragons are also breeding well with three old friends currently incubating good numbers of eggs.
Standards Australia - and the Japanese.

This month I'm angry .... angry at Standards Australia for treating divers in this country as idiots and I'm angry at the Japanese not only for not stopping their so-called ‘scientific' whaling, but actually expnding it to include Brydes and Sperm Whales!

Firstly the proposed new standards for Standards Australi and New Zealand ‘Occupational Diving Operations, Part 3: Recreational Diving and Snorkelling'. I challenge why there has to be a standard at all for ‘recreational diving'? No other outdoor activity has Australian Standards for their recreationaal activity! Standards Australia state that ... "already this year, two divers have lost thier lives...", that is two divers in ten months! With the millions of dives undertaken in that ten month period. I would have thought that the result was good. Last year four snow borders lost their lives in one accident; last month two surfers died in two days; two hang gliders died in one accident, plus snow skiing, rock climbing and rock fishing all have high accident and death rates  - yet none of these outdoor activities have Australian Standards for recreational pursuits. 

Why does stuba diving? I can understand why Workplace, Heath and Safety monitor activities such as bungee jumping, hot air balloon rides, paying hang-gliding passengers, jet boat rides or even even paying passengers while on a dive boat enroute to a dive site.  As in all these outdoor activities the paying customer has no control of their safety.  This is entirely in the hands of the operator.  However once a diver is in the water the oceans is NOT a 'workplace!'. No more than  the is oceans is a 'workplace' when a surfer goes surfing! Can you imagine what surfers would say if Standards Australia told them they had to surf in 'buddy pairs'? When an individual pursues a chosen outdoor activity he or she has to be responsible for their own actions. I say this to Standards Australia - butt out of our chosen outdoor recreational pursuit, it is none of your business! 

Now to the Japanese.... last month (September 2000), their northern whaling fleet returned to port withj a so-called ‘scientific' catch of eighty-eight whales - 43 Brydes, 5 Sperm, and 40 Minke Whales! While the world protests the Japanese go on ddoing what they like and prepare for their summer ‘Scientific" hunting season in the Southern ocean! Unless we lobby our politicians and the Japanese embassy, unless we stay angry and yell loudly they will continue to go on doing what they like nd expanding thier ‘scientific' catch of whale meat for the commercial sales market in Japan. Tell the Japanese they are out of touch with world sentiment - tell Standards Australia and NZ to keep out of our recreational diving activities! Because, if we don't, nothing will change! Stay angry!

Barry Andrewartha and Belinda Barnes.
Editors and Publishers, Dive Log Australiasia.October 2000.
(Kindly reproduced with permission).

Obtain a copy of the standards from
Ms Carol Foster
Standards Australia
P.O.Box 1055, Strathfield, NSW, 2135.
Fax: (02) 8206 6022

Ask for a copy of Standard DR00219, 'Occupational Diving Operations, Part 3, Recreational Diving and Snorkelling.'

Comments to be considered in the standard closed on 15 October 2000, but you should still become familiar with the standard, as it affects YOU, and make comment to Standarsd Australia as you think appropriate.

Website http://www.standards.com.au
You may be able to download a copy of the draft from this site.

Check out Bob Halstead's excelent comment on the standard in the October 2000 edition of Dive Log Australasia, available (generally free) from any good professional dive shop.

Note: Standards Australia is not a government body. It is a private organisation called a 'quango', the name popularised by the brilliant British comedy, Yes, Minister! A quango is a 'quasi autonomous national government organisation' - I think that is it - which basicaslly means that it is a private organisation funded by the government to do what the government bids. Standards Australia's role is to write standards. If there is no standards to write, there is no need for Standards Australia - or at least, its funding would be diminished considerably. So it is in Standards Australia's interests to find a subject and write a standard. Technically, the draft standards written by Standards Australia don't mean a thing in law - until they are ratified and adopted and implemented by the (federal) government - which is what usually happens because no body in the government (public servant or politician) seems to care too much about what is proposed, so long as it appears to be in the nation's interests and it doesn't rock the politicians boat. For a politician to understand the implications of a standard would mean the necessity to study the subject and gain an understanding of what the standard is all about - and why do that when you have a quango in the first place. So in effect, Standards Australia can propose virtually what they like, no matter how preposerous it may seem to the general public and those who have to implement the standard, because you will get no support from the politicians. It is therefore necessary to make Standards Australia realise that what they are proposing in any controversial standard is ludicrous and not in the best interests of the country. If you can make Standards Australia realise that what they are doing is stupid, and you will expose their stupidity to the public through the print and electronic media, then perhaps you will get somewhere. If you can convince a politician that the standard proposed is not in the best interests of the public, and that if some action is not taken, you will expose the politician's incompetence or disinterest, then perhaps you will get somewhere. That is the modus operandi of a lobby group. Personal emotion on the matter in question may motivate the individual to act, but it will have no effect on the politician (and indeed, no effect on Standards Australia). You need to gather your facts, present your case in a formal and professional manner, seek a response. If the response is not satisfactory (and the cynic may say, with some measure of truth, that it will never be satisfactory), you need to present your argument again and this time with an indication of the consequences if they (Standards Australia, the politicians) will not act in accordance with your wishes. This is not a threat - simply a plan of action. You have that right. This is what democracy is all about. If then, Standards Australia and the politicians feel strongly enough about thie decisions, they can face a public debate. It is time then to get the media on side to press the issue. 
Contact Standards Australia and ask for a copy of the DR00219 standard. Make comment. Communicate. Contact your local politician with your views and seek his or her support and intervention. Ask your local politician what he or she thinks of the standard - they like that. And don't let up. As Barry Andrewartha has said, stay angry - but don't show your anger to Standards Australia or the politicians - show understanding, concern and above all determination. Don't let up. "Because of we don't, nothing will change". 
Peter Stone, Yarram, October 2000.

The recent loss (in August) of the Russian submarine with some 140 people on board has a remarkable parallel more than half a century ago. The 270 ft British submarine Thetis found itself in a similar situation on 1 June 1939, just months before war was declared. Like the Russian Kursk in the Barents Sea, the Thetis sank in Liverpool Bay due to flooding of her first two compartments. It was not however an explosion that took her to the bottom, but a procedure error that caused the front torpedo tube to be opened to the sea. The remarkable similarity between the two losses however is in the subsequent rescue attempt; submariners in both ships could have been saved had it not been for the procrastination and bungling of the respective navies and government. We shall hear more of the loss of the Russian submarine no doubt. The Thetis was a new submarine undergoing sea trials with 103 navy and civilians on board. Within five hours of her first attempted dive she was lying with her bow stuck in the seabed mud at 160 ft, and her stern protruding at a precarious angle some thirty feet out of the choppy seas. Four men managed to escape, using the recently developed David Escape apparatus. Others tried and died, trapped like rats in the small escape champer. The remainder just waited for rescue, and died a slow death, asphyxiated as their carbon dioxide levels built up (not lack of oxygen as is generally reported). Having the stern exposed should have resulted in a more positive outcome. But the attempted rescue was one of the worst bungles in British naval history, exposing the sorry state of communications and rivalry within the Royal Navy. Experienced rescue personnel and equipment were in Scotland at the time, yet it took several days for them to be called. No body seemed to take control, and several rescue attempts failed because of lack of leadership. Meanwhile the remaining submariners were left to die a slow yet painless death. They could have been rescued by cutting into the hull, but the British Navy seemed reluctant to destroy their new toy, particularly with hostilities looming in Europe. Thetis was eventually raised, nearly five months later. It required the services of a mine rescue team to perform the gruesome task of recovering the bodies.  The submarine returned to Birkenhead where she was refitted, renamed Thunderbolt, and went into service against the Germans. She was sunk once again with all hands, and not recovered, in March 1943, by the Italian sloop Cicogna. The Kursk will most likely remain on the seabed as a grave to the victims of a uncertain bureaucracy. *
Peter Stone, 22 August 2000, Yarram Standard News. 
Note: No Australian media seem to have picked up on the similarity of the loss of the Thetis and Kursk. 
Return to catalog entry for the book Thetis - The Admiralty Regrets.
* Not so - the Kursk was raised with the assistance of Norwegian salvors late October 2001. 

Australia should not abandon its attempt to establish a haven 
for whales in the South Pacific.
AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have failed in their bid to establish a South Pacific whale sanctuary.  After an exhaustive debate at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Adelaide on Tuesday (4 July), 18 nations backed the planned santuary - a bare majority of the 35 nations called to vote and six short of the 24 votes needed to win.  The Environment Minister, Robert Hill, has vowed to pursue the plan at subsequent IWC meetings, but the reaction of Japan's commissioner, Minoru Morimoto, indicates that the battle to establish the sanctuary will be hard fought. 
Mr Morimoto said- "My reaction to this absurd proposal is one of bewilderment and resentment.  It should be withdrawn."
Japan's IWC delegates characterised Australia's opposition to whaling as illogical and sentimental.  They said that whales were a traditional food source in Japan, and that to hunt and eat a whale was no more horrible than hunting and killing a kangaroo.  And yet a recent poll by the Independent MORI Organisation found that about 60 per cent of Japanese hadn't eaten whale since childhood and only one per cent ate it more than once a month.  Of those polled, only eleven per cept backed whaling. 
The Japanese have described minke whales - the species that is the main target of their "scientific" whaling expeditions - as "the rabbits of the sea".  The president of the Japan Whaling Association, Keiichi Nakajima, has said that if the IWC's commercial moratorium on whaling were lifted, Japan could sustainably take 2000 Antarctic minke whales a year for 100 years to come.  At present, Japanese whalers take 440 minkes from the Antarctic and 100 from the North Pacific, with plans to hunt 50 Bryde's whales and 10 sperm whales. 
Opponents to whaling have expressed scepticism about these statistics; American researchers, genetically testing whale meat sold in an Osaka department store, discovered that it belonged to the endangered and supposedly protected blue whale.
The purpose of the commercial moratorium on whaling was to protect species that were almost hunted to extinction. The proposed sanctuary would extend that protection and further limit whatever whaling continues to take place. The number of whales in the world has dwindled because of the whaling industry's failure in the past to set realistic sustainable quotas.  The rarity of many species of whales is a potent symbol of the destruction that industry can wreak on the natural world. 
Today, people pay money merely to look at a whale and many experience a sighting as a magical event.  Our relationship to these ceatures commonly elicits an emotional response; for many that is reason enough to hope that the sanctuary proposal eventually succeeds.
The Age, 6 July 2000. Editorial. (reproduced without permission - but we hope they don't mind).

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