I would like to offer a counterpoint to Misao Nakaya’s Dec. 16 letter, “Whales as a food resource,” by zeroing in on Nakaya’s comparison of cows and whales. What starkly sets cetaceans apart from bovines is domestication. As we all know, beef is produced from raising cows in a man-made or controlled environment, e.g. farms and ranches. With this kind of setup, these animals have come to be a sustainable source of food made readily available to consumers.
On the other hand, whale meat is obtained from hunting, and basic biology will tell us that whales are part of a complex and delicate marine ecosystem. A substantial decline in their number will significantly affect other members of the sea habitat. That fact alone is cause for the international outcry against Japan’s practice of hunting these species.
Unless there is an alternative for supplying Japan’s demand for whale meat without causing irreversible damage to the whale population, unrest from advocates, civil groups and everyone else concerned will continue. With that, I’ll leave it to Nakaya to decide whether whales and cows should still be treated as one and the same.
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