Georgia Wildlife Resources Division / Flickr
Georgia Wildlife Resources Division / Flickr
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Whaling Industry Cannot Be Trusted

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: International Whaling Commission, Whales, Whaling

The government of Japan will propose opening up commercial whaling at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission, beginning next week in Brazil.

To say that the global whaling industry is corrupt is an understatement.

Icelandic whalers recently killed a blue whale (though they claimed it was a blue-fin hybrid) while ostensibly focused on “only” killing minke and endangered fin whales in the North Atlantic.

So, Iceland’s whaling industry refuses to follow its own self-imposed rules and is willing to kill protected species when encountered.  

This is not an unusual occurrence in whaling history.

In 1994, DNA testing of whale meat bought in markets in Japan discovered that humpback whale meat was being sold.  Humpback whales were completely protected by the IWC back in 1966 as they neared extinction worldwide. Japan’s government claimed the humpback meat on the market had been in frozen storage since before 1966 and only now was being offered to consumers!  Again, the killing of humpback whales violated Japan’s own quotas for its so-called “research whaling.” Other species identified by DNA included endangered fin whale (protected since 1989). 

After the fall of the Soviet Union, scientists from Russia and the US worked together, in 2012, to document extensive illegal whaling by the former USSR, including continual violations of IWC regulations in Antarctica, from 1947 to the 1970s.  Researchers discovered that the Soviet whalers had falsified their compliance reports to the IWC. For example, the Soviet Union shockingly caught an estimated 338,336 whales in Antarctica, of which only 185,778 were reported to the IWC. 

In the North Pacific, Soviet whalers killed an estimated 190,183 whales (and possibly 195,183, as several years had no data), while only reporting a catch of 169,615 to the IWC, at least 20,000 whales short of the real catch.  Large numbers of female sperm whales were killed, but falsely reported as larger and more robust male sperm whales.

Other violations also occurred, including the killing of protected species, captures of undersized (e.g. immature) whales, and the killing of females accompanied by calves.

A Soviet scientist complained to Soviet Fisheries Minister Aleksandr Ishkov that his grandchildren might live in a world without whales.  Ishkov famously replied: “Your grandchildren?  Your grandchildren aren’t the ones who can remove me from my job.”  

Russia officially ended whaling activity with the implementation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling enacted by the IWC in 1986-87 Antarctic season.  However, the country has become a global supplier of captive dolphins, orcas, and beluga whales caught in the wild. Russia also almost always votes with the pro-whaling block led by Japan at the IWC.

In a word, far from shore and prying eyes, commercial whalers do not resist killing any whales that surface in their path, falsifying records and making lame and false excuses when they have been occasionally caught.   This is a primary reason why calls for allowing a “controlled” commercial harvest of whales under “scientific management” and quotas is a fool’s paradise.

The whaling industry kills, and it does not care what it kills.  It has no ethics, is devoid of a moral compass, nor is there any compassion for the great beings it preys upon.