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Droplets of Memory
Whaling: A Heinous Act

In 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) instituted a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling. Its purpose was to limit the excessive number of whales killed worldwide during the 1970s. However, today that suspension has failed to thwart the needless slaughter currently carried out by Japanese fisherman. Although whale fat is the highest produced biodiesel feed stock in this time of fuel shortage, and provides an invaluable source of food to island communities, whaling in Japan is a heinous act of cruelty that should not be allowed to continue, as whales are killed in an unnecessarily cruel fashion and their species are rapidly nearing extinction (International Whaling Commission).

Shortly after the freeze on whaling came in place, Japanese fishing industry began whaling under the disguise of “scientific-research.” Despite recent accusations, the Japanese still deny that they secretly continue to butcher whales (Japan Whaling Association). Deputy whaling commissioner, Joji Morishita, told BBC News, "The reason for the moratorium [on commercial whaling] was scientific uncertainty about the number of whales. ... It was a moratorium for the sake of collecting data and that is why we started scientific whaling. We were asked to collect more data” (BBC News). Because of increased whaling, the Japanese stockpile of whale meat has doubled over the past decade. Dolphins, another species of whales, produce highly toxic meat that is dangerous for humans to even eat. As it is only 4% of the Japanese people eat whale meat regularly, yet regardless of the poor marketing of the meat, Japanese fishermen continue to slaughter the whales without administering careful moderation (Freeman).

Herein lies the root of Japan’s greatest fault. There wouldn’t be a problem with them whaling so long as they limited the number that they killed. If village whalers on small ocean islands, such as the Faroe Islands, know the importance of only hunting for what is needed and not what is desired, then why can’t Japan and other whaling countries recognize this importance? As it stands, the numbers of whales being born cannot match those that die and currently five of thirteen Great Whales are critically endangered (Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society). "Does an animal have to be close to extinction before we treat the animal with respect?” asks activist Richard O'Barry, former trainer of TV star Flipper and marine mammal specialist for One Voice, the French animal welfare organization (Environment News Service). It is immoral for humans to force any animal into extinction, but unfortunately the biggest worry on man’s mind is not preserve the environment, but to find newer and cheaper means of getting fuel to power man’s growing greed.

On average, a single sperm whale weighing 80,000 lbs equals about 5,228 gallons of oil (Greenpeace). Both biodegradable and non-toxic, biodiesel made from the fat of whales seems not only ideal in the case of an oil spill, but the piece of the solution that could help lower escalating gas prices across the globe an the release of harmful pollution to the environment (The Human Society of the United States). "We are not concerned by international regulations of any kind," the Exxon Mobile spokesman said in an interview. “It’s time to save not just the economy, but the environment.” However, because this type of fuel has become popular so fast, few people are willing to slow down and let the whales repopulate (The Australian).

Dolphins, though one of the most beloved whales in the oceans, are now being hit the hardest. Today it is the largest killing of any whale species anywhere in the world. Each year in Japan, from September through April, fisherman brutally slay over 23,000 dolphins and other small whales. Teams of fisherman drive the sea dwellers onto beaches and bays, stabbing them repeatedly with sharp spears and knives. Left to slowly bleed to death, other surviving dolphins tangle in nets submerged in a blood red sea to either be processed for meat [despite risks of poison], or sold to marine parks (Save the Whales). Widely viewed as cruel and barbaric, many environmental organizations are willing to pay $10,000 or more for any video evidence of this heinous act (BBC News). Mark Palmer, associate director of the International Marine Mammal Project states, ”We will continue to expose the senseless killings until Japan puts an end to this violent bloodbath” (Environment News Service). Awareness for whaling has grown rapidly in the last decade due to the tireless acts by various organizations, including the IFAW [International Freeride Watercraft Association] and Save the Whales Again Campaign sponsored by many of today’s most popular celebrities (Save the Whales).

While efforts to control this issue are slowly growing in mass, there is still too little being done to halt Japan’s whaling efforts. If people simply acted, it would make the difference. Writing a letter, sending e-mail or even calling President Bush to let him know that there are people who want the US to start using its sanctioning powers against Japan until they stop whaling. There are so many small acts that can be done to help end this crisis. You could refuse to participate in any captive swim-with dolphin programs. Or supporters could head straight to the source of this whaling tragedy and write the Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, and tell him that people will not purchase any Japanese products or visit Japan until they stop killing and capturing dolphins and whales (Save The Whales).

Whatever the case, actions need to be taken to try and end the slaughter of whales. It doesn’t matter what good can come from it when human material pleasures are rooted from the pain and suffering of another life form. People did it once before, but now its time to help save the whales again.


“Activists Worldwide Protest Japan’s Dolphin Slaughter.” Environment News Service. 17 October 2008. <http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2005/2005-10-07-06.asp>

Greenpeace. 16 October 2008. <http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/whaling>

International Fund For Animal Welfare. 15 October 2008. <http://www.stopwhaling.org/site/c.foJNIZOyEnH/b.4488271/k.E51A/Stop_Whaling__International_Fund_for_Animal_Welfare.htm>

International Whaling Commission. 14 October 2008.

Japan Whaling Association. October 14, 2008. http://www.whaling.jp/english/media.html

“Japanese Whalers Hunt Humpbacks.” BBC News. October 16 2008. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7099720.stm>

Milton Freeman. “Is Eating Whale Meat in Japan a Risk to Consumer’s Health?” Whaling Library. 16 October 2008. <http://luna.pos.to/whale/jwa_v22_freeman.html>

Nicola Berkovic. “Whaling Warning.” The Australian. 19 October 2008. <http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24527736-5013871,00.html>

Save the Whales. 20 October 2008. <http://www.savethewhales.org/>

“Save Whales – Not Whaling.” The Humane Society of the United States.
15 October 2008. <http://www.hsus.org/marine_mammals/save_whales_not_whaling/>

“Whaling & Dolphin Hunts.” Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society. 17 October 2008. <http://www.wdcs.org/stop/killing_trade/>

“Whaling: The Japanese position.” BBC News. October 16 2008. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7153594.stm>

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