Japan and Norway have begun whale hunting season in spite of widespread objections and a moratorium by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
In 1982, the IWC established an international moratorium on whale hunting. The moratorium began in the beginning of 1986's whaling season. Whaling had been a traditional practice in nations like Norway, Japan, and Iceland, along with some indigenous communities in Siberia, Alaska, and Canada. Whaling had been around since about 3000BC. People hunted whales for their blubber, meat, and oil. In modern times, however, whale oil is no longer as necessary as it was. Modern commercial whaling is now primarily done for whale meat and blubber.
As some species of whales came close to extinction, the IWC thought it prudent to establish a moratorium.
In spite of the moratorium, however, whaling nations are still engaging in whale hunting. Japan found a loophole in the moratorium and is claiming that they are hunting whales for scientific purposes. The IWC, however, has considered the hunting of whales for scientific research to be completely unnecessary. The IWC's report, however, is just the latest in a growing collection of evidence that there is no justification for Japan's “scientific” whaling program. Many organizations have condemned the program as a mere cover for commercial whaling.
Norway, meanwhile, has opted to simply ignore the moratorium. April is usually the beginning of whaling season, and Norway has already had a head start. Norway's quota this year is a whopping 999 minke whales.
According to Norwegian officials, minke whales are not endangered. Therefore, ceasing to hunt them is unnecessary. The problem, however, is that most of the hunted whales are female. A Norwegian documentary claims that 90% of hunted minke whales are female and pregnant.
Obviously, extinguishing two generations in one fell blow is not a good idea. If minke whales aren't endangered now, they could be in the future if this practice goes on.
Warning: the next paragraph will be discussing the inhumane treatment of whales, which may be upsetting to some.
Whale hunting is far from humane. Whales experience a lot of pain once hunters shoot them with harpoons. Hunters fit harpoons with grenades, and the tips with claws. The claws clamp onto the whale's flesh, and the grenade detonates when it makes contact with the whale's body. In spite of all this, death does not come easily, and whales languish in pain for hours before finally dying. If a whale takes too long to die, hunters shoot it with rifles.
It's unclear why these nations insist on hunting whales. Though some people are willing to eat whale meat, not many do. There isn't a high demand for whale meat in Norway, Japan, and Iceland. Norway, which can bring in more whales than the two other countries, even exports much of its whale meat to Japan.
So to recap: whale hunting is not only cruel, it's also not absolutely necessary, at least for whaling nations. Indigenous groups hunt whales only for subsistence, not for commercial purposes. Hopefully, though, whaling nations that hunt hundreds of whales will soon realize that all those efforts is actually for naught.
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