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06/07/2010

What’s up with Obama lifting the ban on commercial whaling?  »

There hasn’t been enough in the news lately about marine life being killed by the excesses of civilization, so what the hell, let’s talk about whaling. Food Fight Grocery alerts us to a FOX News report (via UPI) that Obama is set to “break his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales” by negotiating a compromise to lift the ban on commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission next meets on June 20, when they will take up the proposal for a vote.

FOX News is trying to score cheap political points, but for once, they’re not wrong on the facts. Environmental groups are angry, and there’s a lot to not like here. The International Fund for Animals, along with Greenpeace and HSUS, released an open letter [PDF] condemning the compromise and has been urging action to flood the White House with calls.

So what’s this all about, anyway? The compromise would allow Iceland, Japan and Norway, the three remaining nations that hunt whales, to hunt whales legally for commercial purposes. In exchange, the nations would have to cap whaling below their current numbers and agree to tighter monitoring and regulation, including new efforts to help with conservation of whales and other marine life.

Iceland, Japan and Norway are going to keep hunting whales no matter what, and the number of slaughtered whales has been rising every year. Reducing this number would count a win, and by bringing outlaws under the watchful eyes of regulators, the worst abuses can be stopped—at least, that’s the logic behind the compromise. Environmentalists and other detractors say that passing the compromise would legitimize whale hunting, and that the compromise offers no long-term target to end whaling entirely.

At stake may also be the very existence of the IWC. If members can’t agree on a compromise, all signs point to the collapse of the 63-year-old organization. That would mean no standards, no monitoring, and nowhere to report illegal whaling.

No matter where you stand or which evil you feel is the lesser one, it’s clear that consensus on whale hunting will never happen without reaching the people who demand whale meat (and maybe smacking them upside the head). We’ve already gone after New Zealand for supporting this compromise, and if it passes, we’ll be really unhappy. But if it doesn’t pass? For the whales, it might be even worse.

03/17/2010

Whales: maybe a little less screwed  »

According to the LA Times, Monday marked the end of an expedition in which scientists concluded that we don’t have to kill whales in order to study them. To this I say 1. BRAVO! and 2. ADOY!

Japan uses this claim that they need to kill whales in order to study them as a way around the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Of course they do sell the whale meat after they “study” the whale but that’s just like so nothing goes to waste of course. Not because they just totally want to sell whale meat.

The expedition was proposed by Australia (yay Aussies!) and approved by the commission. It is the first of five expeditions they’re going to do. Yeah, it’s just the first one and already they are like, Hey Japan! Kiss it!

From the LA Times:

The scientists’ research focused on whale numbers, what they eat, how they move between food patches and how they travel to and from their breeding grounds in the central Pacific.
"All of those questions can be and are being answered using nonlethal techniques," expedition leader Nick Gales told reporters Monday.
Although Gales acknowledged that Japan does some “marvelous” nonlethal whale research, he said “the component of their work that results in the killing of the whales” is not the type of science the commission  requires.

Japan was like, OK hippies, how are we supposed to know what’s INSIDE the whales? I’m sure there are ways to do this or eventually there will be ways but here’s my suggestion: Hey science! Why do you have to know what’s inside everything all the time? It’s a complete obsession. And I think we’ve been nursing this fetish long enough! After all, it’s what’s on the outside that counts in this business called life!

[Adorable whale pic from the LA Times]

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