Friday, June 26, 2009

Whale watch

A fairly large group of IWC delegates, observers and staff went whale watching yesterday after the annual meeting of the Whaling Commission ended.

The whale on this photo is a Bryde's whale, a species found in tropical and sub-tropical waters. In the 1970s the population of whales to which this whale belongs was hunted indiscrimately by two infamous pirate whaling boats called the Sierra and the Tonna flying flags of convenience. Around the same time also, Japanese whaling entrepreneurs approached the then traditional whalers from Madeira and offered to upgrade and modernize their operation. Fortunately, they failed and Madeira instead transformed its whaling industry into a remarkably successful whale watching operation.

Seeing these whales yesterday evening was a good way to remind us that the decades-long efforts to protect whales constitute a success story. Obviously, if whaling hadn't been stopped in the late 1970s, we wouldn't have seen Bryde's whales here yesterday.

I read on the BBC website that Bill Hogarth who's been the Chair of the IWC until yesterday says that perhaps less whales would be killed if the current moratorium was lifted. I think it's fine to explore possible exemptions to the moratorium, as I did in my op'ed earlier this week, but I don't think it's wise to talk of lifting it altogether.

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