Whaling: Who Gets to Decide if Cultural Tradition Justifies Slaughter?


Whaling: Who Gets to Decide if Cultural Tradition Justifies Slaughter?

A protest in Tokyo in November against research whaling and the killing of Taiji dolphins. Whale hunting evokes strong emotions on both sides of the issue in Japan.Franck Robichon/European Pressphoto AgencyA protest in Tokyo in November against research whaling and the killing of Taiji dolphins. Whale hunting evokes strong emotions on both sides of the issue in Japan.

Japanese whaling is losing money, in part because younger generations are losing their appetite for whale meat. As a result, the Japanese government is subsidizing the controversial industry.

That’s the conclusion of a report released this week that was commissioned by the animal rights group International Fund for Animal Welfare.

According to the report, the Japanese government backed the whale hunt with ¥3.06 billion, or $33 million, in 2011, a ¥2.28 billion jump from previous years.

The rights group’s report says the whale hunt is now making less money than the growing whale-watching tourism industry.

The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, although some permits for aboriginal subsistence hunting are still granted. Japan issues scientific licenses to whalers to work around the ban. However, environmentalists charge that the scientific data collected from killing the roughly 1000 whales a year is weak and not worth the sacrifice. And the meat harvested during these expeditions is sold in stores for human consumption.

Japan has a long history of whaling and advocates for the practice say the hunt is engrained in the country’s maritime tradition and its national heritage.

“No one has the right to criticize the food culture of another people,” said Masayuki Komatsu, a Japanese official and author.

Join our sustainability conversation. Should states subsidize cultural practices that they say are important to their heritage but that others deem unsound or environmentally unsustainable? Who gets to decide?

Source: International Herald Tribune

Fisheries minister says Japan will not stop whale hunting

Fisheries minister says Japan will not stop whale huntingAgriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said that there will probably no end to whaling in Japan, in spite of the sometimes violent objection from conservationists. He believes that the criticism of the whaling practice is “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture”.

Japan has always claimed whaling as a cultural tradition and along with Norway and Iceland, are the only nations that have defied the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan has used a loophole on the international ban by using the whaling expeditions as “scientific research” although admittedly, the whales end up as culinary treats. Australia and New Zealand have continually voiced fierce objections to Japan’s annual expeditions in the Southern Ocean, which is considered a whaling sanctuary by the International Whaling Commission.

Aside from worldwide criticism, the whaling fleet also deals with sometimes violent confrontations on the sea with militant conservationists like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which for the past years has chased off the whaling fleets in Antarctica in an attempt to stop the slaughter of the mammals. Their latest confrontation on the icy waters last Monday saw the two sides accuse each other of ramming its vessels. Sea Shepherd has alsoaccused the fleet of spilling oil in Australian waters. The Japanese government meanwhile has protested the activist’s latest “stunt” which saw Sea Shepherd’s ship Bob Barker position itself between two Japanese ships to stop them from refueling.

 Source: The Japan Daily Press

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras


Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 


~ by FSVSF Admin on 27 February, 2013.

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