After watching a TV show on the Animal Planet Channel called Whales Wars (to be honest, South Park got me onto it), i became interested in the practice of whale hunting. The Whales Wars is a reality show following a marine conversation orgainisation known as the Sea Shepherds. These guys are extremists dedicated to “saving” the marine environment. The Sea Shepherds have been known to undertake aggressive interventions such as ramming other vessels and throwing bottles of butyric acid, to stop (usually) the Japanese whalers from whaling. It is the extremity of their actions that led resulted in greater awareness and support for anti-whaling. However, on the other hand, they had exacerbated their relationship with Japanese government. The Japanese whaling organisation calling them “terrorists” and irresponsible as their actions put in danger the lives of both the whalers and the activists in the middle of the sea. For those who may not know anything about whaling, the actions of the Sea Shepherds may seen very extreme. So to give you guys some detail…
There has been a gradual yet ostensible drop in the number of whales which forced the International Whaling Commission to ban commercial whaling in 1986. With this moratorium in place, Japan has continued to hunt whales under the auspices of scientific research, a practice that is contentiously consented under the IWC rules. Due to this, there has been an various international debates regarding this topic as, even though Japan claims that the whale meat is going to scientific research,a lot of the whale meat actually ultimately ends up in the market for consumption. Hence, Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace and Sea shepherds have grown doubtful of Japan’s real intentions.To add, Japan has continuously claimed that hunting for whales and the consumption of whale meat is an integral part of their culture and history. And that the global community’s efforts to try and curtail this practice is like trying to change a historical cultural aspect of Japan.
Australia has also voiced its concerns, having already issued an affidavit against the International Court of Justice regarding ban on hunting Whales. The reason behind Australia’s outrage is because of this issue of the Tragedy of the Commons. As whales are more or less a “common” where anyone with a permit, or consent from the IWC, can hunt, the decline in their numbers, as aforementioned, has declined dramatically. Furthermore, the Japanese Hunting Vessels have been known to encroach into Australian waters to hunt for whales, a practice that Australia is categorically against.
To be honest, if there is a cultural practice that is accepted in a certain country which i do not understand (eg. wearing of the Burkha), i usually do not think much of it, for as long as the people in that country are happy with it, it is none of my problem. However, once a cultural practice starts to directly effect the whole world, does it give the global community the right to step in and try and curtail their cultural practices? Should more be done to stop whaling? Also, do you support the extremist tactics enforced by the Sea Shepherds?