Whaling: On the Brink of a Return to Full Scale Commercial Whaling

Humpback Whale

Leaping for Joy?

Did You Know We Are on the Brink of a Return to Full Scale, Commercial Whaling?

I didn’t.  And that’s the way its supposed to go.  You and I aren’t really supposed to know about this.  This isn’t some conspiracy theory or clandestine operation.  Its just a good ol’ fashion case of commercial greed coupled with a touch of nationalism and a very methodical application of a lot of “economic incentive” or bribery if you want to call a spade a spade.  Its Japan (mostly) and Norway and Iceland and the commercial fishing interests in those countries laughing in the face of the International Whaling Commission’s ban on commercial whaling for the last 20+ years and being rewarded.  And I am stunned ….. really I am. I never even conceived of the notion that I might see something like this in my lifetime.  I thought we had fought this fight and won a decisive victory in the world of public opinion.  The world, literally said we don’t want to or need to be killing these highly sentient and mostly endangered beings any more.  We can manufacture, synthetically, everything we used to produce from whales and we don’t need to be killing 1000 whales a year for “scientific research.”

Japan and Other Nations are Pushing Strongly to Resume Commercial Whaling

The following short article was sent to me by Marie Levine, the Director of the Shark Research Institute.  This is such a big deal, they are involved too because they realize that if its open season on whales again then nothing is safe in the Ocean anymore.  If you want to know what’s really going on, it is a concise, insightful read.  Most importantly, click on the link at the end of the article and make sure you give your two cents on the issue by sending an email.  Its that important.  Please, share this blog with your address book, Stumble it, Digg it, retweet it and share it on Facebook.

A Sea of Deceit and Capitulation – Commercial Whaling

by Edward Dorson
April 25, 2010

The trajectory of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), meeting in Morocco this June, is on a disastrous course for the world’s whales. A new proposal to resume commercial whaling will be presented at the IWC summit. Simply put, it’s an awful deal. In order to foresee the fate of the whales with this proposal on the table, look no further than how all the marine species fared at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) last month, where each and every proposed aquatic species was denied protection. This was a Japanese orchestrated “victory,” and the same bullying, vote swapping and “influencing” that Japan deployed at CITES to prevent marine protection is also entrenched to dictate the fate of the whales at the IWC.

The IWC proposal would actually reward the whaling abuses of Japan, Norway, and Iceland. This “compromise” deal allows whaling countries to continue killing for at least the next 10 years, with an unachievable requirement for reduced kill quotas. It offers no true enforcement, it can’t hold the whalers to any promises, and it obviously undoes all conservation measures made since the 1986 declaration of a whaling moratorium. Furthermore, it would legitimize Japan’s slaughter in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and promote a Japanese generated ploy wherein “Indigenous” whaling would apply to Japan’s coastal whalers, allowing more killing of whales in the North Pacific.

Japan has unfailingly undermined every marine regulatory convention that may affect its ability to plunder the world’s oceans — systematically rolling back years of international conventions and marine protections. Removing the moratorium on commercial whaling would also remove the most recognizable boundary to Japan’s hubris and greed, and would assist in the unrestrained taking of the less “cuddly” species such as the highly lucrative tunas and other fish species.

Japan wants a resumption of commercial whaling to divert the focus away from its unsustainable pillage of the seas. Whales are highly sentient beings, and, despite what Japan projects, they aren’t universally perceived as a “product.” From elaborate scientific study to casual observation, they’ve proven to be extremely social, communicative, highly intelligent, and able to feel intense emotion and pain. Japan realizes that if the killing of such iconic species is sanctioned, the remainder of what’s left of aquatic life will be theirs for the taking.

A recent document by Professor Shohei Yonemoto, titled “Useless Research Whaling Should Be Abolished,” gives his pragmatic perspective on Japan’s ambitions of dominance of the dwindling life in the oceans. He speaks of trading off “research” whaling only to go unhampered in the whaling closer to Japan. In the last two paragraphs, Dr. Yonemoto reveals Japan’s ultimate objective in relentlessly exploiting the more valuable tunas, sharks and other fish:

“It is said that eating whales is Japan’s traditional culture. But this is a myth that was started through a PR company during the mid-1970s. Actually, whale meat does not sell well and there is surplus stock. If Japan proposes to the IWC to allow it to engage in coastal whaling in exchange for giving up research whaling, I expect the long-standing opposition to be immediately settled.
Currently, there is a growing trend for strengthening control over marine resources such as tuna on a global scale. Also in order not to raise questions over Japan’s scientific data in international forums to discuss regulations on fishing of tuna and other fish, Japan should abolish research whaling as a government project.”

Japan now has a formidable ally in its quest to lift the ban on commercial whaling: President Barack Obama. In the March intersessional IWC meeting, the Obama Administration was the chief proponent in advancing the plan to resume commercial whaling and is currently urging other nations to follow. This is clearly based on geopolitical maneuvering and Japan’s leverage with our debt obligation; devoid of scientific or ethical consideration.

The U.S. position is a drastic departure from then-Senator Obama’s campaign promise made on March 16, 2008, when he stated: “As president, I will ensure that the U.S. provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements, including strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling. Allowing Japan to continue commercial whaling is unacceptable.”

As the current proposal is written, pro-whaling countries will directly benefit with a return to what was described by the president as “unacceptable” commercial whaling. Nearly 25 years of conservation efforts may be swept aside if former staunch allies of the whales, the U.S. and other nations following our lead, capitulate to Japan as they have indicated.

The president’s unfulfilled pledge to “ensure that the US provides leadership in enforcing international wildlife protection agreements” could be achieved by compelling Japan to honor all the agreements it has broken with impunity. Japan has violated the Law of the Sea Convention, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

If the president truly wanted to see these agreements upheld, he could seek redress from the rogue whaling nations by using the sanctioning powers available under the Pelly Amendment against Japan, Norway, and Iceland until they stop whaling completely.

The president should be urged to be true to his word and protect the whales — and not to insure their demise. Over 75% of Americans oppose the barbaric practice of whaling, and the U.S. government should mirror their demands. In order to fulfill his promise of “strengthening the international moratorium on commercial whaling,” President Obama should be lending his full support towards the rapid passage of the International Whale Conservation and Protection Act of 2010, sponsored by Senator John Kerry.

Of critical importance: there’s absolutely no method to kill a whale “humanely.” An explosive harpoon is shot into them, they’re then electrocuted through an attached cable, repeatedly shot by high caliber rifles, and drowned by being dragged through the water. Even with this torture, which wouldn’t be tolerated in the most hellish slaughterhouse, it’s not unusual for a whale to take over an hour to finally die. With a fiendish abuse of language, this atrocity has been labeled by pro-whaling states as “harvest” or “culling,” and any dissent is dismissed as “emotional.”

It’s high time to make all whale species off-limits to slaughter and to acknowledge them as unique beings that are fully deserving of inherent rights. It’s now been empirically shown that the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) possess such a high order of sentience that they can’t rationally be designated as some “product” to be butchered, bartered, or compromised.

If mankind is going to continue in benefiting from the gifts that the ocean offers, we must recognize that no nation or cartel of nations should be allowed to dominate the seas and deplete its bounty at the expense of the future. Experience and knowledge are there to reveal the boundaries of not only sustainability, but of sentience and sanity as well. We must now realize that this threshold has been breached by Japan with its continuing assault upon the world’s whales and its accompanying lust to eliminate what’s left of the oceans. This must be stopped, not revived.

Edward Dorson is Director of Conservation Strategies for the Shark Research Institute
To take action, see the Shark Research Institute’s Campaign to Prevent the Resumption of Commercial Whaling

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