Subject: IWC: Whalers told shoot first, lanc (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 24 Oct 1997 14:18:15 -0400 (EDT)


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Date: Fri, 24 Oct 97 12:35:00 GMT 
Subject: Whalers told shoot first, lanc

Whalers told shoot first, lance for last resort

    MONACO (Reuters) - Whalers must try to finish off whales by
shooting them before electrocuting them, the International
Whaling Commission (IWC) agreed Thursday.
     Britain and New Zealand led a campaign at the IWC, which
holds its annual meeting in Monaco this week, to ban the use of
electric lances, which are believed to be very painful.
     "We suspect it must be excruciating," said New Zealand
delegate Geoff Barnes. "We can see that in the reaction of
whales in video footage and from accounts of people who have
survived the electric chair in the United States," he said.
     Whalers initially strike the large sea mammals with
exploding harpoons and reel them in close to the whaling vessel.
If the animal is still alive, Norwegians try to shoot it in the
brain but the Japanese prefer electric lances.
     A Japanese delegate said lances are easier to use and cause
less damage to the whale's body.
     Two steel-tipped lances are plunged into the whale and an
electric current is run through them until the animal dies.
     Under the new rule, whalers are required to shoot the
harpooned whale first and electrocute it only as a last resort.
     Animal rights advocates say electrocution can take up to 20
minutes in extreme cases to kill a whale.
     "We would have preferred a ban. This is the next best
thing," Barnes said.
     The IWC banned old-style harpooning in 1981 because it took
too long to kill whales. The organization banned commercial
whaling the next year, but Norway objected to the moratorium and
continues to whale in the North Atlantic. The Japanese hunt
whales for research.