Regarding C.W. Nicol’s Feb. 9 article, “Killing calves makes Japan’s whaling indefensible“: It is surprising that the author finds it indefensible that calves and their mothers are killed in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary under special permits issued by the Japanese authorities. Since 1986 it has been their policy to kill what have been called “representative samples” of minke whale populations. From 1996/1997 to 2005/2006, 5,500 minke whales were killed and 30 percent of them were juveniles, including calves, yielding 20,000 tons of meat. The average weight of the juveniles was roughly 3.5 tons; of adults, 7.5 tons.
Apart from the ethical aspects of killing large numbers of baby whales, this is an appalling way of conducting commercial whaling in the guise of science. Those young whales being killed will be prevented from contributing to the birthrate of the population. Nor will they live to grow in later years to a size that would in the future be much more valuable to humans.
Commercial whalers, as early as the 1930s, decided to refrain from killing calves and their mothers. What is not commonly realized is that conducting what is really commercial whaling under International Whaling Commission rules (which allow such behavior to masquerade as science) releases the industry not only from the restraints of IWC catch limits (including zero limits) but also ALL of the other long-standing regulations aimed at conservation and good management.