Monday, February 7, 2011

The Minke Debate

I suggest trolling the blogosphere, when you get a chance, specifically to look at how people are actually somewhat divided on the issue of whaling.

In this recent post from Greenpeace, they have put together a petition to pressure Obama to enact trade sanctions on countries that allow commercial whaling. This is to remind him to make good on his promise to help reform the IWC. In another post, Robert Bennett of fish4travel appeals directly to individuals by asking would-be tourists to boycott Iceland until Icelandic whaling stops.

One can find dozens of other similarly minded blogs and articles. Where is the division? While people generally accept that the hunting of certifiably endangered whales should be illegal, some support the hunting of Minke Whales.

According to this post put up by ‘Dr. M’ of the Deep Sea News, the issues surrounding Iceland’s whaling practices are not scientifically based but more ethical. He sites that in 2003 Iceland took a total of 562 Fin, Sei and Minke whales compared to Japan’s nearly 13,000. Dr. M points out that since then Iceland's whaling has significantly decreased as they concentrate more and more on Minkes. He goes on to argue that while Fin and Sei whales are endangered, we simply do not know enough about Minke whales to make any conclusions on their population numbers. He says that there are some studies where Minke whales have actually been seen in some areas in great abundance. He argues that one should stay away from eating endangered whales because there is sound scientific evidence of their population numbers, and that this is not necessarily the case with Minkes. When it comes to Minke whales, there is not enough evidence to say they are endangered with absolute certainty, thus the same rules regarding hunting should not apply to them.

Deficient data aside, in this realm it is safest to assume the worst and act on the premise that Minke whales may be endangered and they deserve the same protection as Fin, Sei and other protected whales. To assume the best possible scenario with no regard for the equally possible worst is simply irresponsible.

That there is any debate on this at all can be shocking at times. Surely the anti-whaling community is aware of arguments like those addressed above. While the world’s anti-whaling community is much larger than their opposite, these days this does not necessarily make them louder or more powerful. This debate highlights why a continued great effort is still absolutely necessary in order to push the world away from whaling, for good.

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