Whale hunting – action needed now…

Where is whale hunting legal?

In 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) announced an international moratorium on whale hunting and this was what put fully into effect by1986. Although the IWC could not make whale hunting illegal, its 88 member countries upheld the ruling and stopped commercial whaling.

Because of a ‘loophole’,  several countries continued whaling- supposedly for ‘scientific reasons’ and these countries were Norway, Iceland and Japan.

‘You would imagine that there would be strict laws about the grounds for scientific research which allows “scientists” to capture and kill wild animals. However, after more than 25 years of this practice, almost no significant data has ever been published by a reputable scientific journal. Many of the Japanese “research” objectives are flawed or are based on incorrect scientific assumptions. In most cases, the information they claim to be collecting would be much more efficiently rounded up from non-lethal methods such as tagging, photo ID, and DNA profiling – certainly not death’. An extract from One Green Planet.

In 2018, Japan proposed to renew its licence but this request was rejected by the IWC. Japan left the IWC and has continued to hunt whales commercially – but only within its territorial waters. Whales have been hunted by the Japanese since 800 AD. Whale meat commands a high value on the Japanese market and whale tail meat is considered a real delicacy. July 2019 saw the end of commercial whaling in Iceland when the last whaling company did not request to renew its licence.

In the United States, Alaska is allowed to continue whaling for the survival of its native population, but the whaling there is not undertaken commercially. The Faroe Islands are an independent archipelago in Denmark and whaling continues there as part of the historical traditions, 100 whales are slaughtered each year. Aboriginal communities have also been able to continue whaling as part of their culture.

Norway kills more whales than any other country in the world and last year, the published figure was 1,278 whales.

How many whales are killed each year?

Current figures suggest that1,500 large whales and 100,000 small whales, dolphins and porpoises are killed every year. Sadly, these figures are not likely to be accurate as much illegal whaling is kept ‘under the radar’. These shocking figures are explained by One Green Planet –

‘In 1986, a Moratorium on Commercial Whaling was brought into effect by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), but this was not enough to stop the cruel practice. Using loopholes in the regulations, some countries have continued whaling under the provision of scientific research. However, this is just a legal way for them to carry on hunting whales which will ultimately be destined to end up in food markets and restaurants. Japan alone

has killed more than 8,000 whales under the guise of scientific research since the Moratorium began in 1986’’.

Why whale hunting should be banned

It has been proven without a doubt that the whale population should be carefully preserved as these huge mammals play a key role in balancing marine life in the oceans and of combating global warming- which is the biggest danger to the world this century. Whales consume huge quantities of carbon dioxide when they feed as their diet is mainly krill, plankton and small fish. Whales also aid the absorption of carbon dioxide by their regular diving to the depths of the ocean. This tends to push nutrients from the deep up to the surface where they are food to phytoplankton and other marine flora– both of these absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide.

Whales regularly surface to breathe, but also to excrete huge faecal plumes. These faecal plumes are rich in iron, nitrogen and phosphorous. The plumes are light and foamy so they float and these help to fertilise the plankton and other marine plants – encouraging their growth in numbers. Scientists have found that the more whales there are in an area, the greater the presence of plankton and other plant life– and the greater the absorption of C0².

What can we do?

The future of whales hangs in the balance as their recover from the mass slaughter that took place in the 19th and 20th century. The recovery has been very slow and many species remain ‘endangered’ and the total number of whales in the oceans remains low. There are a number of things we can do to ensure that their conservation remains a top priority especially as some countries would like to see the reintroduction of commercial whaling as it is a lucrative business as whale meat and other body parts command a high price. To ensure the conservation of the whales so that they can help fight global warming and fulfil their role in balancing the oceans’ ecosystems, as many people as possible should-

* Support the work of the WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) which exposes the suffering of these vital marine animals.

* Campaign against the slaughter of whales.

* Reduce the world’s demand for whale meat – make sure that tourists travelling to countries where it is eaten, boycott the meat.

* Watch whales, guard against plastic pollution in the oceans and never eat whale meat or buy products made  from whale meat or other body parts.