From Empty All Cages
Activists protesting in Seoul July 7 2012
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) – South Korea is considering hunting whales in
the waters off its shores for what it says are scientific purposes, drawing
criticism from environmental groups and countries around the Pacific Rim.
Citing calls from fishermen for a resumption of limited whaling, the head of the South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission, Kang Joon-suk, said Wednesday that Seoul was working on a proposal to hunt minke whales migrating off the Korean Peninsula.
Watch South Korean Whaling Video
Korean fishermen complain the whales are disrupting their fishing activities and eating fish stocks, Kang said at the commission’s annual meeting in Panama. Nonlethal measures are not enough to assess the whales’ numbers and feeding habits, he said. But environmental organizations were skeptical about the South Korean explanation.
South Korean fishermen murdering a whale
“Blaming whales for declining fish populations is
like blaming woodpeckers for deforestation,” Greenpeace said in a statement.
“Whales do not cause declines in fishing stocks, over fishing and
mismanagement by humans do.”
“We believe this move is a thinly veiled attempt by Korea to conduct commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, similar to hunts conducted by Japan in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary,” said Wendy Elliott, head of World Wildlife Fund’s delegation to the whaling commission.
Japan hunts whales each year despite a worldwide moratorium in place since the 1980s, utilizing a loophole in the law that allows for killing the mammals for scientific research.
Korean law permits the processing and sale of meat from a whale that is ”accidentally” enmeshed in fishing nets. A British scientist, Professor Douglas MacMillan, calculates fully one third of the world’s whale so-called by-catch happens off South Korea.
Environmental activists like the organization Sea Shepherd track the Japanese hunters, facing off with them in a high seas drama that has led to collisions of ships, the detaining of activists and the firing of smoke bombs.
Mother and her baby dragged onboard a South Korean whaling ship
South Korea intends to pursue a similar approach to
Japan by submitting a proposal to the Scientific Committee of the
International Whaling Commission.
Other countries in the region reacted to Seoul’s plans with dismay. “I am very disappointed by this announcement by South Korea,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia said Thursday. “We are completely opposed to whaling; there’s no excuse for scientific whaling.” Gillard said she had instructed the Australian ambassador to South Korea to take the matter up “at the highest levels of the Korean government.”
New Zealand intends to take similar action over the situation, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said, suggesting that South Korea’s plans could undermine the standing of the International Whaling Commission. The announcement “will put further pressure on an organization that already has significant difficulty sustaining itself as a credible international institution,” he said.
The minke whales that would be the target of South Korea’s proposed hunt are considered endangered by the whaling commission’s Scientific Committee, WWF said in a statement. But Seoul is suggesting that the number of minke whales in the north Pacific has “recovered considerably.”
Hoisting a stabbed whale (side and mouth)
In his statement to the whaling commission, South
Korea’s Kang said that his country’s “whaling history dates back to
prehistoric times, and whale meat is still part of a culinary tradition of
some of Korea’s local areas such as Ulsan.”
Before the international moratorium came into effect in 1986, Koreans were catching about 1,000 minke whales each year in the waters around the peninsula, he said.
But his claim that the whales were now making life difficult for fishermen failed to impress environmental groups.
Go on to Record numbers of ivory seizures
amid rise of organized crime gangs
Return to July 10, 2012
Return to Newsletter Directory
on the link to see photos and bios)
Staff Editor and Contributor: [email protected]
Staff Contributor and Advisor: [email protected]
Sled Dog Action Coalition: www.helpsleddogs.org [email protected]
Staff Contributor: [email protected]
Pawprints, Footprints & Animal Chatter: [email protected]