Whaling, misc questions

From: pulipal@netscape.net
Date: Mon Apr 21 2003 - 17:42:33 EDT

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    Hi !
    My name is Coraline Klein, I'm 22 years old and I'm a french student of marine
    biology in the university of La Rochelle.
    I prepare a conference which will count for my terminal exam, and the subject
    is : "whale hunting : the situation in the 21th century". That's a good
    question, isn't it ? So can I ask you a few question about this subject ?
    So here they are :
    1) What is the marine mammal which is the most catched in the world ?
    2) Why is it so complicated to prevent Japan and Norway from doing whale
    hunting ?
    3) What's your position about whale hunting ? How did you see the future ?
    4) What do you think about people's action against whale hunting ?
    5) Do you think that whale hunting by the Inuit or an other artic ethnic group
    should be forgiven because it's their traditional custom ?
    6) Did you or have you ever worked whith a whale commission ? how do you do to
    bring action to a succesful conclusion?

    *******************
    Coraline,

    Since you're working on a presentation for an exam, it doesn't seem right that I do all your research for you. I'll answer some of your questions, but I strongly recommend that you revisit the WhaleNet website and look thru the archives to see if some of your questions haven't been previously asked. I imagine most of them have.

    I recommend that you contact the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the U.K. for information on the statistics of catches. I should warn you that they may not have as detailed information on catches of small cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) which are actually more frequently killed than the larger whales. The International Whaling Commission has a good website and you can reach a contact via them. I personally have never been involved with a whaling commission, though I do know folks who have been.

    As you can imagine, politics have a large role in why whaling continues. Participation in the IWC is voluntary, and the IWC has no police power behind it. This means they can decide to ban whaling, but how to enforce something like that is another story. The Japanese and Norwegians have cultures deeply entrenched in whaling, and there are many people eating these animals. Bottom line...there's a market for the whale meat, so there is someone filling the demand.

    I'm neither for or against whaling. I wish we didn't have it, but I also feel that just because I don't eat whale meat or that my culture doesn't involve whaling, doesn't mean I have the right to completely complain about it. I personally eat meat, it just so happens to not be whale meat. As for the future of whaling, I think as long as there is a market for the meat, and as long as there is no enforcement of bans against whaling, whales will continue to be killed. We're also seeing, as some whale populations increase, growing interest by natives to resume their culture of hunting.

    As an American, I support people's rights to voice their opinions. I do worry about the zealousness of some groups though. I don't think running a rubber inflatable between a whale and a large harpoon from a whaling vessel is really the answer. One has to use some common sense in all of this as well.

    In regards to cultural whaling, I think it depends on the situation. The Inuit have been whaling for a long time. A tribe in Washington State resumed whaling after not having done it for many years. In the case where there is a continuous thread and you can see how the whaling fits into the culture, it makes sense. In the case where you have only some individuals wanting to resume whaling, and the tribe doesn't provide a united front or voice, well, that gets people wondering if it's really needed.

    I hope this helps. As I mentioned earlier, the IWC can provide more assistance to you, as well as going back to the WhaleNet site. Good luck with your exams.

    Sincerely,
    Dagmar Fertl

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