A beautiful “spyhop” from a beautiful female humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)!
We don’t normally post things with political interest, but whaling is something we are both deeply passionate about. The world has come a long way since commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the international whaling commission (IWC). This ban was brought forth because whale population numbers were in critical decline. They have slowly recovered, but some nations have not adopted a “total” ban (utilising loopholes such as those that allow whaling for scientific purpose), and it will be a long time before we can list whales as “numerous” or “safe from extinction”. This year, Japan launched a proposal that would reintroduce commercial whaling. It was denied by the IWC, and Japan has since threatened to leave the IWC and commence whaling anyway.
Their reasoning (as voiced by Japanese MP Kiyoshi Ejima):
- “Originally, [the IWC] was an organisation that was concerned with resource management, but currently it’s in a deadlock which can’t move forward or backward”.
- “Some countries, including Australia, worship whales. They think whales are especially precious and it’s outrageous to eat whale meat, which is close to religion, and it’s not science”
- “Japan wants to resume commercial whaling - sustainably”.
These statements seem fair, but here is the issue we have with each of them:
- Just because your vote doesn’t get a majority in the IWC (votes were 41 countries against commercial whaling, 27 for, and 1 abstained), does not mean that there is a deadlock. It means the majority believe that a return to whaling is unsustainable at this point in time.
- We think most Australians oppose the consumption of whale because they are so endangered, not because they are “precious”.
- If Japan’s whaling for scientific pursuit has been deemed unsustainable (see Brierley, 2015, Nature), how can commercial pursuits be managed?
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