exploitation of whales

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Mon Nov 18 2002 - 15:28:34 EST

  • Next message: Pieter Arend Folkens: "killer whales"

    >im currently studying marine biology at the university of hull. im
    >doing an essay on the need to rationalize the exploitation of whales. is there
    >any specialised sites that you could suggest. or any info that you could give.
    >any help would be appreciated.

    The premise of the essay is troublesome. Why is there a "need" to
    rationalize an exploitation? The arguments tend fall heavily on the
    opposite rationalization; that is, to no longer exploit whales.

    The Japanese are forwarding a rationale that goes like this:
    whale eat fish;
    Japanese fisheries are failing for lack of fish;
    whales are in competition with whale for the fish stocks;
    therefore whales should be killed to reduce the competition for fish.

    If that rationalization is not obviously stupid on its face, consider this:
    the major stocks of large whales are endangered and still a amount to
    only a small percentage of their original, normal population size.
    Their recovery is severly restriced due to a compromised eco system
    in which fishstocks have been severely depleted by overfishing, and
    some of which are endangered themselves. The Japanese have made it
    quite clear that they endeavor to hunt all whales and take all fish
    until such activities become commercially extinct.

    Along similar lines a rationalization is promoted which simply says
    there are hungry people who could eat whales, therefore feed them
    whale meat. Whale populations are a mere small fraction of what they
    should be in a normal, healthy environment. Human populations have
    artifically expanded well beyond the natural carrying capacity of the
    environment and will continue to expand. Artifically large human
    populations should not be allowed to exploit depressed wild food
    resoures as extinction and major eco-systems disruption are the
    inevitable results.

    For a recent and lucid review of that issue I suggest you contact
    Cetacean Society International at 460 Wallingford Road, Cheshire, CT
    06410. There may be some pro Japan Whaling web sites, but I
    understand it is all hyperbolic propaganda.

    Other rationalizations for exploitation include aboriginal whaling
    for subsitence and cultural preservation. This makes more sense than
    all-out commercial whaling, but begs a curious question: is it
    appropriate to preserve a neolithic tradition in its entirety while
    most of the rest of the world moves into a 21st Century modern

    Whale watching and 'swim-with' programs are considered a form of
    'benign exploitation.' However, participants in these activities have
    anthropomorphized many marine mammals and have essentially reduced
    the 'wildness' of these critters. I do not believe this is a good


    Pieter Folkens

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