Over 25,000 whales have been slaughtered since a ban on commercial whaling was introduced in 1986. Norway, Iceland and Japan will kill over 2,000 whales this year between them by exploiting loopholes in the ban. Sadly, world goverrnments are not prepared to take any meaningful action that will stop this outrage and every year the whalers kill more whales.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC), the UN recognised management body for whaling, has failed to stop the killing and now a compromise deal may lift the ban altogether condemning many thousands more whales to a cruel death.
In 1994 the IWC created a whale sanctuary in Antarctic waters - the Southern Ocean Sanctuary - and many believed the battle to save the whales had been won. But Japan has ignored the sanctuary and along with Norway and Iceland, they continue to defy the whaling ban. Japan plans to kill over 1,000 whales this year for 'research'. 'Scientific' whaling as it is known , is a loophole that allows Japan to kill whales despite the whaling ban. The whale meat is still sold commercially, making a mockery of the ban.
As environmental concerns increase, whaling is no longer the issue it was or deserves to be. With little public awareness of increasing whale slaughter there has been no pressure to stop it. Consequently, the political will to confront the whalers and enforce the whaling ban has slipped away.
Commercial whaling has devastated whale populations the world over, pushing entire species to the brink of extinction. There is still great scientific uncertainty about the size and status of remaining whale populations. Meanwhile, climate change, increasing toxic pollution, massive over-fishing, entanglement in fishing nets, boat collisions, habitat loss; even the ozone 'holes' threaten the future survival of these magnificent and gentle giants.
Whales are facing increasing threats to their survival and need to be protected, not hunted.
After systematically destroying all the larger whale species, the little minke whale, the smallest of the great whales, is now bearing the brunt of the whalers greed. With whale meat fetching anything up to £150 per pound or more in Japan, massive profits can still be made from killing them.
Whaling is terribly cruel. An exploding harpoon is fired into the whale's body. Sometimes more than one harpoon is needed and a whale can be shot many times with a rifle, or even electrocuted to finish it off. Whales can suffer for up to an hour before dying. Dr. D H Lille, a British physician, spent time aboard a British whaler in 1947. He said, "If whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it"
Commercial whaling is appallingly cruel and unnecessary and should be condemned to history, to a time when sadly we knew no better!
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