January
18th 2010
Two MILLION Whales Killed

Posted under news

Let’s think about that sobering number for a moment.

2,000,000 – two MILLION whales – killed in the 20th century.

That’s a lot of whales. Present populations of different species vary around the world, with some like the Atlantic grey whale’s being completely gone, the Pacific grey whale and North Atlantic right whale very close to it. But two million… that was a number that made me sit up and take notice all of a sudden.  I’ve read different accounts of whaling with estimates of number killed, but never an aggregate total. Of the largest whales, populations were so drastically reduced as to result in single digit percentages (as little as 1-2% of blue whales, 5% or less of humpback whales) remaining from the original, naturally healthy and abundant populations.

Why does this hit me now? With the increased visibility and tension around the fight against whaling in the Antarctic, there are a lot of stories hitting the “wires” regarding arguments for and against whaling, measurements of existing whale populations, etc.

For example, the article which brought home that two million number draws attention to the hollow argument that the Antarctic minke whale population must be growing since there is less competition for krill, now that so many of those larger whales (humpbacks, blues…) are gone. This study finds NO evidence to support that belief. Mother Jones also writes up this information in Whaling Loses Another Flimsy Rationale.

This dovetails with the argument by some who support Japanese whaling that whales need to be killed because they are competing with humans for the fish. To that I say: poppycock! How do they reconcile this flawed thinking with the fact that before commercial whaling and overfishing, the oceans TEEMED with abundance of all. The Pew Charitable Trusts have weighed in on this, as has the Humane Society. We have overfished the oceans; humans are in the process of sucking/trawling/fishing them dry. In fact, overfishing is the single greatest threat to the health of the oceans. Recently, a bluefin tuna sold for $177,000.  They are becoming so critically endangered and yet in such great demand that they draw a high price tag. Still, despite their dwindling numbers (and probably due to the higher potential for profit), Japan resists and fights any efforts to conserve remaining bluefin tuna, calling it a threat to their iconic food. Hello!? Overfishing your iconic food is what is threatening that iconic status! Bluefin tuna are Huge, Fast and Almost Gone, but there actually has been discussion about INCREASING the number taken, rather than trying to conserve and restore their numbers. Immediate profit is overruling long term “supply”.

So basically there are just a bunch of lame excuses masquerading as reasons to kill whales, when the reality is that none of those excuses hold any merit. Frankly, I am a little perplexed as to how the comparatively small island nation of Japan is running the table on both whaling and the bluefin tuna fishery. Seems that so many countries are so afraid of their trade agreements (is there not a whole world to which potential trade can be developed?) that they simply cave to Japanese threats. New Zealand is becoming a largely more visible force to push an end to whaling, with the majority of their population wanting to stop whaling. NZ Prime Minister John Key has been alluding to a diplomatic solution. While I agree that this is probably the most likely route towards resolution, I remain cynically wary to believe that the necessary nations will stand up to Japan in the end. Until concerned nations are willing to eschew or risk their precious trade agreements for the greater good, I fear that nothing will change, whales will still be killed, and the escalating conflict in the Antarctic will also result in the loss of human life.

Two million whales have already been lost. How many more will be added to that number?

4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Two MILLION Whales Killed”

  1. fritter on 23 Aug 2011 at 5:31 am #

    the shocking is two million and that number increases daily. you have put together a great article, and brought it our attention. ty.

  2. Susann Irwin on 28 Mar 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    It’s both sad and infuriating that whaling continues. How foolish to destroy such a beautidul and needed creature. When will we lran and retain that we dwell on a living planet surounded literally by life. We have to develop a beter respect for the life around us and learn to dwell with it, safeguarding it as we would our own lives. The extinction of any living being is our extinction.

  3. whalegeek on 30 Mar 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Thanks, Susann! And the sad thing is that we are losing species we have not even discovered yet, in deepest forests, oceans etc. You’re absolutely right that we have to do more to live in harmony with all of the planet’s residents.

  4. N O All on 07 Jun 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    “And the sad thing is that we are losing species we have not even discovered yet”
    How can you know that?

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