28th 2011
Returning with Sort of Good News

Posted under news

Well! I can’t believe I haven’t updated this blog in so long. My apologies. Quick run down of last summer: 8 whale watches taken. I have photos and will try to get them up before the 2011 season kicks off. Now that I finally have a digital camera, that means lots more to sort :-)

So, good news? Sort of! Let’s start with the news that Japan has ended its Antarctic whaling season early this year! They are, of course, blaming Sea Shepherd for keeping their quota of 1000 whales down to less than 200. And yes, there have been clashes (no injuries reported). But there’s also been mounting international pressure which has to be making an impact. Not to mention the fact that there is something like 5000 tons of whale meat sitting in freezers already because the population just is not eating it.

What almost made me laugh for its ludicrously blatant chess puffing is an editorial from Japan about the end of the Antarctic season. The most telling line in it is this, at the end: “And we tend to react with anger when foreign countries tell us we shouldn’t eat it.” The editorial acknowledges foreign pressure. It also acknowledges the lack of stomach for the meat: “Demand for whale meat is not growing at all in Japan, and the nation’s ocean-going whaling industry is effectively dead. Given this reality, there is little justification for Japan’s stated need to resume commercial whaling in the Antarctic.”

And yet, the crux of it all comes down to the defensiveness of the “don’t tell us what to eat” position. They refer to whales as “utilizable resources” (using the quotation marks themselves) as opposed to the intelligent marine mammals that most of the rest of the world sees them as, seeking their protection. If Japan had no other resources for food, zero other means for feeding their population, that position might hold more credibility. It does not. I get not wanting to be told what to eat. But this is larger than that. This is their refusal to actually learn anything from their so-called scientific research aside from, theoretically, how many whales they can kill without devastating the populations, much less learning from the massive and growing bodies of research from around the world which bolster the many reasons why whales should be protected and not eaten.

Why is this all only sort of good news? There has been no permanent cessation of commercial whaling by Japan (not to mention Iceland and Norway). There is still the vicious dolphin hunting that occurs every year in Taiji, Japan. Whaling for this year might be over (including an early end to the dolphin slaughter), but the matter is still unresolved. I wish we could find a way to help Japan end these programs while also allowing it to save face culturally as it appears to desperately want. That would be a win on all sides.

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