05 July, 2012

Scientific Whaling

It’s common knowledge that the international moratorium on whaling, in place since 1986, has a loophole that allows whale hunts for scientific research.  It’s a loophole that Japan has exploited ever since and now and by a complete coincidence, whale meat happens to be available in Japan.
Now, South Korea has announced plans to resume scientific whaling.

I have a question for all those involved in hunting whales for the purposes of scientific research:
What have you learnt?
It’s been over 25 years now; I think it’s time some papers were published.  What theories were being tested?  What experiments were run?  Where is the peer review?  How many times do you have to repeat the results before declaring the theory proven or disproven?  If Japan wanted people to stop laughing at their claims that the whale hunts are scientific, all they need do is publish their research.

Now, South Korea has announced it is looking at a resumption of scientific whaling.  As justification for the resumption, they have stated that numbers of minke whales have recovered significantly.  So presumably, the scientific research they intend to carry out is to discover whether killing them will reduce the numbers.  I wonder how many times they will be wanting to repeat that test before declaring some results.  It’s also been suggested that increased numbers of whales have led to decreased fish populations.  Well okay then, if they kill more whales and that leads to an increase in fish stocks, will they declare the theory proven and then stop?  If they kill more whales and find that it has no effect on fish stocks, will they declare the theory disproven and cease research?  In order to keep it a controlled experiment, will they ensure that fishing in the area is exactly the same before and after whaling?  Or will they think of that in a couple of seasons’ time in order to do more whaling for research?

Perhaps I’m being overly cynical.  Perhaps humanity is learning vitally important things from these scientific whale hunts.  If so, publish the research or I call bullshit.


  1. People in remote arctic Alaskan villages will tell you that they need to eat lots of high fat animals to make it through the harsh climate. Japan never gets that cold. And they have plenty of grocery stores.

  2. I remember some representative from Japan justifying whale research on the radio a few years back - it had something to do with getting a wax from the whales' head cavities: "and we have to kill the whale in order to get that wax ..." (really? why?) "... so rather than waste the whale meat, it gets eaten."

    That's a praphrase, of coruse, but you get the gist. It's basically a hugely inflated excuse to kill whales for their meat.

    1. Of course it is. And it's not as if there's even a real demand for it any more. At this point, they're just continuing out of bloody-mindedness.