South Korea to re-start whaling
Thu, 05 Jul 2012 6:09p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
South Korea has shocked conservationists by announcing it plans to join Japan and begin ‘scientific whaling’.
There's been a moratorium on commercial whaling for 26 years, but a loophole for research that's been exploited by Japan has now tempted the Koreans and the International Whaling Commission (IWC) can't stop them.
South Korea's announcement came out of the blue. It told the IWC it plans to resume hunting whales for scientific research – something it hasn't done since 1986, the season after the moratorium began.
“Most people round the world would be very disappointed if the Korean’s took this step and we don't think it'd be good for the Korean reputation,” says Prime Minister John Key.
Mr Key’s sentiments were echoed by the Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
“I believe there will be strong and widespread public outcry in many countries around the world and I hope the government of Korea will give serious consideration to those concerns,” he says.
At the annual IWC meeting, South Korea argued some whale populations have recovered since the moratorium on whaling was introduced.
"The minke whale population in the North Pacific has recovered considerably to the level maintained before the moratorium," say representatives of South Korea.
"An increasing number of minke whales are eating away large amounts of fish stocks which should be consumed by human beings."
That’s an argument neither Australia nor New Zealand buy.
“We profoundly disagree with that point of view. All of the evidence we've seen shows that the numbers are significantly depleted,” says Mr McCully.
“We are completely opposed to whaling. There's no excuse for scientific whaling,” says Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
But it's not illegal – under IWC rules whales can by killed for research and the meat sold for consumption.
“We've seen Japan carry out scientific whaling for many years and there's little doubt in the minds of observers that this is simply commercial whaling in drag,” says Mr McCully.
It’s now up to international diplomacy to pressure South Korea into changing its position, but that's unlikely – it's already said it's not looking for approval.
It's understood the whales will be killed in South Korean or Japanese waters. Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd told 3 News it won't directly confront whalers operating in their own territory, but it’s working on other ways to intervene and harass.
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6/07/2012 1:43:17 a.m.
Mike Gibb wrote:
It is complete rubbish that South Korea is starting whaling for scientific reasons. If one nation is already doing "scientific whaling" then that is all that is necessary. Science doesn't differ from nation to nation.
Furthermore, it has become even clearer over the years that Japan's whaling isn't for scientific research. If it was then where is the research? Science requires publishing the results; the data; the research, in peer reviewed journals. But has Japan published one single article?
5/07/2012 11:39:17 p.m.
Appalling decision from South Korea - boycott trade with them until they reverse their decision!Fiah stocks are already depleted - it's like a race to empty the ocean.
5/07/2012 10:34:26 p.m.
western nations raping the seas will complain, how dare they resume whaling while we are over fishing the oceans
5/07/2012 6:53:25 p.m.
Hideyoshi Toyotomi wrote:
A welcome development. Momentum is growing towards a normalisation of the whaling industry in light of the success of the moratorium on commercial whaling. AS such, the moratorium should be subject of review.
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