Once upon a time, gigantic marine creatures ranging in size from a relatively modest 11 feet all the way up to 115 feet (known more familiarly as beluga, sperm, blue, pilot, humpback and killer whales in the Cetacea order) –– used to enjoy thriving populations…that is until man got in on the action.
Once we figured out that we could profit from the sale of their flesh, oil and ambergris, we launched massive commercial hunting expeditions (as early as the 1600s) which were so successful that we severely compromised their numbers.
As the years have progressed, whales continue to be faced with added threats such as ocean-bound pollution, fishing net entanglement, Navy underwater ship shock explosive tests and collisions with sea faring crafts.
Whether they’re the subject of illegal sushi slinging, climate change-fighting excrement, unprecedented celebrity activism or Pierce Brosnan’s latest save the whales public service announcement, it might be natural to think that our society has whale on the brain…so you’re probably scratching your head and asking yourself why the 88 countries participating in the International Whaling Commission’s peace talks are hashing out the details behind closed doors. Frankly, so are we.
Do they have something to hide? Former 80s Midnight Oil frontman and Australia’s current Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett – who penned such notable eco-tinged hits as “Blue Sky Mine” and “Beds Are Burning” – is troubled by the development, noting that transparency is the best policy.
At stake: trying decide whether Iceland, Norway and Japan should be allowed to legally resume Antarctic whale hunting for one decade as long as they gradual decrease the total amount taken, which currently hovers at around 2,000 whales (some of which are threatened with extinction).
The World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Pew Environment Group have offered a preliminary bargaining tool which gives the thumbs up to whaling as long as endangered species are exempt, unilaterally determined whaling quotas are abolished, whale meat/products are expressly prohibited from trade and Southern Ocean whaling is off limits (among other conditions), but other notable environmental groups have immediately vetoed any deal that supports commercial whaling in any way, shape or form.
Greenpeace has explained that while they support a global ban on whaling, most of what occurs is “outside the reach of the IWC. The only way to properly make the moratorium work is to bring commercial whaling under the reach of the IWC and then to enforce the ban.”
Unfortunately, a loophole has enabled Japan to kill approximately 1,200 whales annually for supposed scientific study and to fuel a cultural practice that despite falling out of favor with its residents is still inexplicably subsidized by its government.
If only the whales could speak up and set everyone straight.