Environment

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Joerg Sarbach/AP
A boat tows a dead sperm whale.

Save the Whales—by Hunting Them

July 03, 2008 03:02 PM
by Shannon Firth
Some conservationists say ending a halfheartedly obeyed, 22-year-old whaling ban will allow for tighter controls and monitoring that could save species from extinction.

30-Second Summary

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Despite the conciliatory approach of some conservationists, the 59th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Santiago, Chile, ended in a stalemate.

Prior to the meeting, conservationists like Susan Lieberman, director of the World Wildlife Fund, believed that ending a 1986 ban on whale hunting in favor of better monitoring was a possibility. “I think countries have an obligation to see if they can bridge the gap here,” Lieberman said.

Aboriginals in Greenland, Russia and Alaska are exempt from the 1986 global moratorium on whale hunting for subsistence farming; some countries, such as Iceland and Norway, have ignored the ban. Japan, somewhat dubiously, claims that its hunts are intended for research, and hence has allowed itself a quota of 1,000 whales per year.

According to a BBC article, the Japanese rebelled when the United States and United Kingdom had them shoulder the blame for the extinction of some whales. At the time, both countries had caught more whales than Japan.

But the lines of debate among activists aren’t determined by nationality. According to a Japanese poll, 56 percent of Japanese, mostly men, support whaling for research purposes. Japanese women in their twenties, however, are its greatest opponents.

Greenpeace, meanwhile, opposes the idea of lifting the ban. On June 30, Greenpeace volunteers in Australia left 10,000 origami whales at the Japanese consulate, representing five times as many signatures on antiwhaling petitions.

Headline Link: International Whaling Commission ends in a stalemate

Background: A brief history of Japan versus conservationists: “Did Greens Kill the Whales?”

Opinion & Analysis: Who supports whaling?

Related Topic: Australian environmentalists protest Japanese whaling practices

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