As Andy Revkin reports in the New York Times, even though whale meat is unpopular in Japan, government officials have decided to expand their whale-hunting. This year they will kill 1,400 whales, and a new species will be openly on the menu: endangered Humpback Whales. Read his excellent article for the facts at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/weekinreview/25revkin.html?_r=1&ref=science&oref=slogin.
He notes, “The official line is that whales are no more intelligent or special than cows, their expanding numbers are depleting fisheries needed by humans, and any complaints about killing them are hypocritical and little more than cultural imperialism.”
Here they go again.
As the United States is the most irresponsible country in terms of energy waste and denial about global warming, Japan is the world’s worst country in its zeal to kill and consume wild nature. Japan is a major force in forest depletion worldwide because they are a major market for old-growth wood. Much of what used to be the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest of North America was exported to Japan as raw logs, where it was used wastefully to make throw-away concrete pouring molds for buildings.
Japan is the world’s driver of fishing for giant bluefin tuna, as well as setting quotas for bluefin tuna globally. Because of Japan, the giant tuna are depleted in all oceans, and Japan has been convicted in world court of intentionally overfishing its already-too-high, largely self-set quotas, and trying to hide it. A country where an endangered 700-pound fish can be auctioned wholesale for $174,000 is a country crazed. It is insane (or just dishonest) for Japan to suggest that whales are depleting fish supplies needed by humans because Japan’s global overfishing has probably done more to deplete fish supplies needed by humans than has any other single country.
Japan insists on killing whales and that the kill is sustainable. The main problem is: they lie. DNA tests of whale meat in Japan showed protected species labeled as minke whale, the only species Japan announced it would hunt. So the hunt is corrupt and the official line demonstrably unreliable.
Second, most large whales worldwide remain at extremely depressed numbers compared to their original population sizes. Whaling did that to them.
Third, there is no humane way to kill a whale. Two main differences between whales and cows are that cows can be killed humanely and cows are raised for the purpose so their numbers are not an issue. Cows are not endangered by hunting; whales are. People who grow cows own them. Japan does not own these whales. They steal them from the rest of us, in defiance of the spirit and intent of the International Whaling Commission’s global whaling ban.
Finally, Japan’s insistence on killing animals no one needs to eat, animals that are the largest that have ever lived, simply shows a disrespect for life so outsized as to be utterly indecent.