Tuesday, June 21, 2005

But I'm So Hungry for Whale!

The vast majority of whales and other cetaceans on this planet are either threatened or endangered.

So I don't know about you, but the idea of hunting whales for food in 2005 strikes me as . . . a little old-fashioned. And the idea of hunting whales for food with explosives and the "electric lance" strikes me as . . . a little barbaric. But the idea of hunting 935 minke whales for food while calling it an annual "research cull" strikes me as . . . just plain idiotic.

But that's what the Japanese want to do. This year they plan to slaughter 440 minke whales so they can "conduct research" on whaling. Why? So a bunch of Japanese people can eat whale meat properly, as a delicacy, thinly sliced, in expensive restaurants without chairs.

Somehow, Japan managed again this year to convince the International Whaling Commission that in order to know more about minke whales it must exterminate them. Unlike the Norwegians, who are the only folks in open defiance of the world-wide whaling ban upheld today by IWC members, the Japanese say they're not defying the ban; they're conducting specialized scientific experiments.

I went over to the International Cetacean Research website, run by--guess who--the Japanese. Not surprisingly, I learned:

"It is important to remember that capture and testing is only conducted in a strictly limited way on the numerically abundant, non-endangered whale species. Sampling in the Antarctic has included a take of up to 440 Minke whales in one year. The [International Whaling Commission] estimates that 2,000 Minke whales per year could be taken for 100 years without posing a threat to the stock. Under the IWC's 'no waste' rules the by-products of the research program, including whale meat, are required 'so far as practicable to be processed'. It is this aspect of the program which is often inaccurately sensationalised as 'illegal commercial whaling'."

O.K. Let's assume that the Japanese want to study whales. Cool. Bully for them. Let's also assume that they could do this (as every other Western country interested in research on wild animals, including whales, does) with minimal--if any at all--killing of the animals they study. Why don't they? Because the Japanese market value of minke whale meat is so high.

But, c'mon, you say. You're being too hard on our friends perched precariously on the Pacific Rim. If it weren't for IWC's helpful "no-waste" exception that now drives commercial hunting on boats occupied by hungry scientists, we wouldn't know so much about minke whales. Maybe so.

But if the Japanese didn't know how good Minke whales tasted, they probably wouldn't want to know so much about our 30-foot-long finned friends.

Now I'm no vegetarian and I don't play one on TV (although I did play one in real life for about 6 years, then I got really hungry). But I'm thinking: Yo. Japan. Give it up. Traditions are one thing. Being arrogant dolts who flaunt environmental policies even the Bush Administration backs is another all together.

8 Comments:

Blogger ajmac said...

Was that an implicit (albeit backhanded) endorsement of a Bush administration policy? On this blog?

Pardon me as a regurgitate my teeth.

Do the Japs offer a pretense of an explanation for why killing the whales is a necessary predicate to studying them?

1:50 PM  
Blogger The Accipiter said...

I've never made a blanket statement about GW and his policies, some of which I struggle to understand, others of which I endorse, a few which I loathe. Here, the administration has it right. Unlike Kyoto, they're staunchly behind the ban, as far as I can tell.

The Japanese say that they need to dissect them to learn about their organs. They need to kill them to measure them. Etc. Etc. 400 of them? 900 of them? It's baloney.

I didn't realize you had swallowed your teeth. I would hope inspiration for spitting them back up would require less than a blog posting over at The Accipiter.

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