Saturday, January 7, 2012

Whale killings

"There are over 80 species of cetaceans, a group made up of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Despite many protections including a moratorium on whaling since 1986, many species of cetaceans continue to be threatened – with some on the verge of extinction"

The world's great whales were hunted to near extinction in the previous century, and despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling, several countries continue to whale commercially - Norway and Iceland using objections to the moratorium, Japan under the guise of 'scientific research'.

(from WWF)

Despite a global whaling ban, the survival of whales, dolphins and porpoises continues to be threatened by commercial trade, pollution, over-fishing and depletion of the ozone layer.

Japan is the main trading culprit. The country’s government continues to authorize hunting of more than 1,000 great whales a year – under the guise of “scientific whaling.” It also has regularly authorized the annual killing of an estimated 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales – collectively known as small cetaceans – in poorly regulated and unsustainable coastal hunts. The meat is then sold to supermarkets and restaurants across the country.

(source: extract from

Whale killings

Aftermath of a Japanese whale hunt

Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organised fleets in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century.

As technology increased and demand for the resources remained, catches far exceeded the sustainable limit for whale stocks. In the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually and by the middle of the century whale stocks were not being replenished. In 1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling so that stocks might recover.

While the moratorium has been successful in averting the extinction of whale species due to overhunting, contemporary whaling is subject to intense debate. Pro-whaling countries, notably Japan, wish to lift the ban on stocks that they claim have recovered sufficiently to sustain limited hunting. Anti-whaling countries and environmental groups say whale species remain vulnerable and that whaling is immoral, unsustainable, and should remain banned permanently.

Whaling began in prehistoric times and was initially confined to (near) coastal waters. Early whaling affected the development of widely disparate cultures—such as Norway and Japan. Although prehistoric hunting and gathering is generally considered to have had little ecological impact, early whaling in the Arctic may have altered freshwater ecology. The development of modern whaling techniques was spurred in the 19th century by the increase in demand for whale oil, sometimes known as "train oil" and in the 20th century by a demand for margarine and later meat.

Whale oil is little used today and modern commercial whaling is done for food. The primary species hunted are the common minke whale and Antarctic minke whale, two of the smallest species of baleen whales.

(source: extract from wikipedia)

Traditional whaling is mainly at coastal areas and for own consumptions by indigenous peoples for oils and meats, it was sustainable. But modern whaling is now mainly for food, commercially for global market, and there is the problem of overhunting merely for profits, causing much ecological problems.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the ICRW to decide hunting quotas and other relevant matters based on the findings of its Scientific Committee. Non-member countries are not bound by its regulations and conduct their own management programs.

The IWC voted on July 23, 1982, to establish a moratorium on commercial whaling beginning in the 1985–86 season. Since 1992, the IWC's Scientific Committee has requested that it be allowed to give quota proposals for some whale stocks, but this has so far been refused by the Plenary Committee.

At the 2010 meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco, representatives of the 88 member nations discussed whether or not to lift the 24 year ban on commercial whaling. Japan, Norway and Iceland have urged the organization to lift the ban. A coalition of anti-whaling nations has offered a compromise plan that would allow these countries to continue whaling, but with smaller catches and under close supervision. Their plan would also completely ban whaling in the Southern Ocean. More than 200 scientists and experts have opposed the compromise proposal for lifting the ban, and have also opposed allowing whaling in the Southern Ocean, which was declared a whale sanctuary in 1994. Opponents of the compromise plan want to see an end to all commercial whaling, but are willing to allow subsistence-level catches by indigenous peoples.

Stop eating whale meat if you are not indigenous peoples who traditionally depended on whale oils and whale meat. If you are not whale meat eater, then do not start it..... Save our whales...

Further readings

1. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) official website,
2. EIA in the USA,
3. Whaling,
4. Japan Whaling Association,

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