Subject: Whaling laws, techniques and statistics

Aldemaro Romero (
Thu, 05 Mar 1998 00:37:00 -0500

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>Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 17:40:12 -0500
>From: (Angela Gray)
>Subject: Whaling
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>To: aRomero@ACC.FAU.EDU
>>To: Aldemaro Romero
>>From: (Angela Gray)
>>Subject: Whaling
>>Dear Mr. Romero,
>>        Hello.  I am doing a independent study on whaling.  I was wondering
>if you could perhaps provide me with some information on whaling (world
>wide).  Any sort of information would be greatly appreciated.  I basically
>need information on the different techniques of whaling, statistics, and the
>laws and regulations for whaling.  Thank you for taking the time to read
>this.  You can email me back at or fax me at
>>Thank you again,
>>Angela Gray

Dear Angela:

Whaling has been practiced by humans for hundreds of years.  The Basques
seem to have initiated it around the XI Century and it was expanded and
perfected by fishermen from other nations, including the U.S. from the
XVII Century on.

Today the basic technique consists in the use of a harpoon launched from
a whaling ship using explosives.  The harpoon head itself usually has an
explosive that detonates once it hits the whale. Some artisanal whaling
is still practiced using hand-held harpoons.

In recent years most nations that are members of the International
Whaling Commission have complied with its resolutions to ban commercial
whaling. Still nations like Japan, Norway, and Iceland continue whaling
and kill several hundreds of these aniamls every year, somtimes under
the excuse that they do it for scientific reasons (although the whale
meat finds it way to supermaket in some counties). There is even an
increased tendency by other nations to soften their stance against
whaling based on several premises: a) that the populations of some
species such as the minke whale are abundant enough that they allow the
resumption of their capture; b) that whaling by "aboriginal" people who
used to kill whales in the past is part of their "cultural heritage"
and, thus, should be allowed even if that capture will not change
substantially the living conditions of those peoples; c) that coastal
whaling should be permitted since it will benefit local fishermen. Many
nations from small islands in the Antilles to the U.S. itself, have been
leaning in favor of the above-mentioned arguments.  On top of that there
is "pirate whaling," i.e., whaling being conducted by ships whose
registration and port of origin and/or destination is unclear and for
which statistics are difficult to obtain.  Since the International
Whaling Commission lacks enforcement power, there is little what they
can do. Only a handful of non-profit organizations such as Sea Shepherd
are acting against such activities.

I hope this answers your questions.

Best wishes,

Aldemaro Romero, Ph.D.