The ethics behind whaling
As the whaling seasons starts up in Japan, Sea Shepard, Earth Island Institute and other anti-whaling groups are again fighting for the lives of dolphins and whales in the world’s oceans. Currently, in the Japanese town of Taiji, whalers are trying to hunt and capture dolphins. They are mostly killed for consumption, with some are being taken for dolphinariums, including SeaWorld Parks.
Japan isn’t the only whaling country; Norway and Iceland have both continued commercial whaling after objecting to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban. It is estimated that 2,500 whales die each year due to whaling. So why do these countries continue whaling after the ban? Many of the countries involved are backing their rights to conduct scientific research, which the IWC permits.
Japan states it is essential to gather information about the status of whale populations. Another issue is culture: pro-whalers in Japan say foreigners should not oppose whaling as it is part of their culture (dating back to the 12th century), and provides many communities with money and food. However the opposition to whaling is widespread. IWC, many governments and environmental, conservation and animal welfare groups have all refuted the claims of scientific research, saying that it is used as a disguise for commercial whaling.
It is a fact that many whale species are endangered and need protecting – whaling threatened many species in the first place which is why the ban was put in place. Another thought: Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are highly intelligent, and suffer great stress from hunting practices, making it highly unethical.
The debate between pro and anti whalers will continue for years to come, but it is clear to me (and many other scientist) science here is being used as an excuse to cover commercial whaling at the expense of intelligent creatures and dismissing the conservation efforts to protect them.