Late last month Japan asked the International Whaling Commission to allow small-scale coastal whaling and to treat the activity the same as subsistence whaling by aboriginal peoples in the Northern Hemisphere.

The problem with this, however, is the suggestion that the whale meat would be sold to consumers across Japan. I am sure that most people in the world would consider subsistence whaling to be where people catch the animals locally to feed their families. They would use all the animal’s parts — eating the meat and making use of the blubber, skin and bones for a variety of purposes. It would be on a small scale and have little impact on the population of a given whale species.

When the whale meat is offered and sold for distribution around the country, though, the operation becomes a commercial activity. There is then the motivation for fishermen to catch more whales to increase their profits. This would, of course, have a considerable impact on whale pods and would lead to a decline in the whale population.

If Japan wishes to be taken seriously, it needs to think carefully about its proposals and to be seen taking the right steps to move away from any dependency on slaughtering endangered animal species. Training should be provided for coastal fishermen so that they can earn their living in harmony with nature.

steve parker

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