My guest this week is author Nick Wastnage, a man I admire greatly for his love and compassion for all things wild. His eye-opening piece shows the many reasons why we should all support the abolition of whale hunting – “if whales could scream the industry would stop” – he quotes. Welcome Nick, and thank you for this wonderful and informative post.
I oppose it. It’s cruel, inhuman, and endangers the existence of one of the world’s most magnificent, intelligent species of mammals.
- ‘Many whales do not die quickly when hit, and tests to decide exactly when a whale is dead are inadequate.’ Whalewatch, a coalition of 140 groups opposed to whaling.
- ‘There is no humane way to kill a whale at sea’. Sir David Attenborough, a well-known British naturalist and broadcaster.
- ‘If we can imagine a horse having two or three explosive spears stuck in its stomach, and being made to pull a butcher’s truck through the streets of London while it pours blood into the gutter, we shall have an idea of the method of killing. The gunners themselves admit that if whales could scream the industry would stop, for nobody would be able to stand it.’ Dr Harry Lillie, a ship’s physician on an Antarctic whaling trip in the 1940s.
To be fair, a lot’s changed since Dr Lillie made his comment. Methods of hunting and killing whales have become more humane. John Opdahl of the Norwegian Embassy was quoted as saying: ‘For many years, the International Whaling Commissionhas given high priority to efforts to improve whaling methods in order to minimize unnecessary, protracted
suffering, and Norway has always led the way in these efforts. The methods now used in minke whaling are as good as or better than those in other forms of big-game hunting as regards both death times and the percentage of whales that are merely injured.’
Oh come on, at the end of a whale hunt the sea is blood-red! And what’s this comparison with big-game hunting? That’s just killing animals for trophy hunting, and has brought about the near extinction of whole species like the northern white rhino, the Amur leopard, and the western lowland gorilla, to name just three.
So, the case against whaling is compelling. Anyone who’s seen TV documentaries about whales, or, like me, has been lucky enough to go on a whale-watching trip, and seen many of the beautiful creatures come close to the boat, dive deep, surface, and then jump twenty-or-so feet high above the water’s surface before twisting and diving again to some 100 feet below the water, would never support whale hunting.
However, nations do still hunt whales; notably Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, and South Korea, and to a lesser extent the United States, Canada, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Indonesia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In 1986 the IWC banned commercial whale fishing. All the countries I’ve listed applied, and have been granted a quota of whales they are allowed to hunt and kill each year, and they do so – right up to their quota levels.
South Korea and Japan have managed to get around their quota, and hunt and kill more whales, on the excuse of it being scientific. They both vehemently oppose the IWC hunting ban, seek to prove that whale stocks have improved since the ban, and that various whale species are no longer in danger of extinction; therefore the ban should be lifted. These countries claim that whale meat has been traditionally consumed in their countries, and is a major source of protein to far-flung remote communities.
I sort of get that. Meat and fish are freely eaten in the world. However, I like to believe that in most cases, they’re reared and killed in a humane manner – where they’re not they should be. I’ll support any campaign against inadequate husbandry, inhumane slaughter of livestock and fish, and the preservation of fish stocks in the oceans.
Let’s look at it another way. The animals that man eats the most of: cows, lambs, pigs, and chicken are continually restocked by planned breeding programmes, and in the case of fish, a world-wide quota system ensures fish stocks are not exhausted. Whale hunting kills off, never to be replaced, a whole species.
I want to return to big-game hunting and its equally nasty offshoot – poaching. Neither of these practices do anything to replenish stocks of the animals they slaughter; they just reduce the population of animal breeds until the species becomes extinct, a bit like genocide. Man is destroying the planet’s living resources for selfish gain and satisfaction, like in oil exploration and deforestation.
Okay, lets cut to the chase. Back to whale hunting. If the world’s food resources are managed properly and distributed fairly, the case for killing and eating whale meat becomes so weak and untenable that it’s no longer credible.
Greenpeace, the organization that has done most to halt whaling and stop any lifting on the ban, has as its main message: ‘We believe that commercial whaling must be stopped.’
‘The statistics say it all. The blue whales of the Antarctic are at less than 1 percent of their original abundance, despite 40 years of complete protection. Some populations of whales are recovering but some are not.
Only one population, the East Pacific grey whale, is thought to have recovered to its original abundance, but the closely related West Pacific grey whale population is the most endangered in the world. It hovers on the edge of extinction with just over 100 remaining.
Recent DNA evidence shows that the impact of commercial whaling may be even worse than previously thought.
Overexploit, cheat, deplete. The cycle of greed behind the global whaling industry drove one whale population after another toward oblivion. It is still not known if some species will ever recover, even after decades of protection.’ Greenpeace
I’m a crime writer and an optimist – a rare combination – and a lover of things wild and wonderful.