Saturday, October 16, 2010

A whale called Trotsky

Because of too many other commitments, I’ve finally decided not to go to the Biodiversity conference that starts in Nagoya, Japan this week-end. But as I’ve been involved in Nagoya-related discussions in the last couple of years with a number of public authorities and civil society organizations within and outside Japan, I’ll follow it from a distance.

My colleague and friend Duncan Currie who’s in Nagoya now tells me that the local fish market has been closed to foreigners for the duration of the Biodiversity conference.

I’m sure that the local authorities will say that this measure has been taken with due regard to the safety of their foreign guests, as well as for the tranquility of the fish workers. Well, that may be so. But I can’t help remembering that all Japanese officials I spoke with in the last two or three years were showing unease (sometimes nervousness) each time I was telling them that it was important for them to realize that, for a very large majority of Western reporters coming to Japan for the biodiversity conference the Biodiversity + Japan = whales + bluefin + dolphins equation was a very obvious one. Of course, I was not suggesting that they close the fish market to the public. My proposal was to take advantage of the biodiversity conference to make some landmark announcement on marine biodiversity (such as ending the scientific whaling scam in the Southern Ocean, for example, or [and?] supporting calls for the closure of the fishing of bluefin tuna in their spawning grounds).

The closure of the fish market to Western visitors (including journalists) during the biodiversity conference reminds me the Soviet Union leadership wiping out Trotsky from their photo collections. In the real world, wiping out Trotsky had exactly the opposite effect: it was drawing attention and maintaining his memory.

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