Despite international opposition and campaigns by various animal rights activists against the hunting of whales, however, pro-whaling nations of Norway, Japan, and Iceland don’t seem to know how to stop.
Information on the website of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a wildlife charity which opposes the capture of whales, states that the three countries kill around 1,500 whales each year combined.
Norway, which hunts minke whales, and is the world’s leading whaling nation, announced in March that it is raising its annual whaling quota to 1,278. This would lead to further increases in the number of whales killed each year.
To kill whales, hunters shoot them with grenade harpoons that feature spring-loaded “claws” on their tips. The spear, upon hitting a whale, plants itself deeply into the animal’s flesh, causing it to die a slow, painful death. Even worse, the harpoon is used to drag the body onto the deck of the whaling boat.
In defense and defiance, the pro-whaling countries often claim that whaling is an important tradition in their cultures. But this is nonsense. Tradition is no excuse for killing these defenseless animals, not to mention blowing a hole in their side and letting them die slowly.
Whales are recognizable marine mammals with high levels of consciousness. Besides, research suggests, among others, that whales possess complex brain structure for complex function and that they are capable of experiencing a range of emotions. This indicates that whales are worth more alive than dead.
An International Whaling Commission moratorium on whaling bans the killing of whales for commercial purposes. In spite of this, Norway and Iceland still practice whaling in the North Atlantic to this day. As for Japan, the country not only objected to the moratorium but also takes advantage of a loophole which made an exception for boats that conduct “scientific research.”
A minke whale is processed at a port in Kushiro on the island of Hokkaido on Sept. 4, 2017. | KYODO
Japan claims that it engages in whaling to study whales’ health, diets, age, etc. However, one does need to be a scientist to know that killing whales for research is preposterous. Japan could very easily conduct its research through non-lethal means such as by using special small projectiles to collect tissue sample or gather samples of feces instead of brutally killing whales.
Whaling, whether practiced for commercial purposes, subsistence, science, or in keeping with traditional practices, is primitive, savagely cruel and should be stopped. Whales are an amazingly beautiful species that deserve a chance at life. Asides the fact that they help us deal with the impacts of climate change, whales can be toxic if eaten, as they contain toxins such as mercury and PCBs, which accumulate in their blubber as they age.
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