Thoughts While Preparing for the IWC

September 2, 2014

Preparing for the IWC

In preparation for the IWC meetings, I reviewed various articles from the scientific community, papers from non-profit stakeholder groups, and watched documentaries with differing perspectives. I have been trained as a scientist, taught to look at everything through that lens and reduce emotions or personal opinions as much as humanely possible. However, the moment I see whales being harpooned, stabbed in the neck, or driven into the infamous Taiji Cove, there is no squelching that heart-breaking, stomach-in-the-throat, visceral response. Sometimes that image brings tears to my eyes and sometimes I just feel angry that whaling can still occur seemingly without recourse. I don't get it - why does whaling still happen? I mean, I can recite what whaling countries say in response to that very question, yet their reasons have all been refuted with overwhelming scientific, economic, and cultural evidence and data.

Understanding Why

Governments of whaling countries are heavily subsidizing the whaling endeavor yet at the same time, the market for whale meat is declining. This appears to be in direct contradiction to good economic policy. The scientific evidence is out that most hunted whale populations are under sustainable, sufficient, or historical levels (depending on the species), not to mention the population numbers are estimates difficult to obtain, with a narrow scope, and inherently skewed to overestimation. As well, removing whales from the oceans removes the ecological benefits they provide - think whale nutrient pump translating to more phytoplankton and fish - and sustaining life and habitats through whales' decaying carcasses at the deep ocean floor. With all this evidence against whaling - and the above just scratches the surface - I am at a loss for truly understanding why it happens.

It occurs to me that maybe there is something else that isn't being said, a reason not yet brought to the table for discussion.


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A special thank you to...

Ken SextonDivya SivaramanLynette Koftinow
Betty and Terry BorgJanet and Joe Faina
Brenda HemkenNicolas BorgDivya Sivaraman

...and everyone else that contributed to make my attendance at the IWC possible