Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another nation resumes whaling

Iceland, citing its centuries-old whaling tradition, has announced it will issue permits for taking a total of 39 fin and minke whales. Iceland stopped commercial whaling when an international moratorium was agreed on in 1989. While the minke whale is relatively abundant, probably numbering in the hundreds of thousands (it has benefited greatly from past hunting that decimated the numbers of larger baleen whales), the "finner" is still listed as an endangered species by the IUCN.

COMMENT: The north Atlantic minke and fin stocks could, from a hard-nosed numerical point of view, survive a limited annual cull without significant harm. HOWEVER, in the bigger picture, this is a very bad idea. First, it further legitimizes whale hunting, encouraging more nations to resume the practice, inevitably leading to larger kills and environmental impacts. Second, the more widespread whaling is, the more it provides cover for the taking of protected species. Numerous samples of humpback, blue, and other rare species have been found in markets selling meat from Japan's "scientific" harvest of minke whales. (How good can their scientists be if they can't tell a humpback from a minke? One sample was even shown to come from a blue/fin hybrid. Try mistaking that for a minke sometime).

No comments: