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Tuesday, July 5, 2005
THE ZEIT GIST
The whaling debate
Readers respond to Melanie Burton and Tim Scott's articles on Japanese whaling
Why should a country who has exhausted the whale population in their country come over and hunt a mysterious creature we have all looked after in our country.
They certainly have no right to enter our waters and hunt them down. Having heard that they not only use these creatures for future medical reasons and food, I certainly have not heard any major outcomes of their medical findings. Linda
I am afraid that although I am all for the rights of individuals and nations to live their lives as they see fit without interference, this has to be taken along with behaving in a responsible and sensible manner. As such I cannot agree with the idea of whaling in any way in the modern world.
Whales are at the top of a natural food chain, and as such their numbers and reproductive rates are low when compared to species lower down. This causes any commercial level of harvesting of them to be unsustainable. Also if wiped out, this would then have have knock on effects for the rest of the ecosystem.
The damage caused by cattle farming is a concern, but one problem or mistake should not be used to justify another.
Also the fact that it has been a traditional activity in these areas has been slightly twisted. Whale was a food source mainly after WWII as an emergency measure, though even if an activity has been done in the past it does not make it right to continue doing it. Stuart
Let them hunt whale
I am all for whaling. In America, they let the native tribes hunt them. And I mean endangered ones. From what I have read, the whales you hunt aren't even a threatened species. If it it a part of your culture, and you are using all of the product you can, I am all for it. Jared
There are simply too many other food sources available to not justify the killing of whales. The illogic of stating that Britain and the U.S. decimated the stocks of whales as a reason that Japan should get their share, would be like a government saying "look how many minorities Hitler destroyed, we need to get our quota."
The more mankind studies the whales, the more it becomes evident that they are a social, intelligent creature with extensive language skills. We have only begun to study the unique qualities and communication skills of these mammals. Any inter species communication breakthrough makes a mockery of risking the future for a few pieces of blubber with rice. John
Get out of Tokyo
Japan is already raping the ocean with its massive fleet of drift nets and indiscriminate protein gathering tools. So give me a break. Try getting out of that massive Japanese artificial environment you live in in Tokyo and go to a nearby tetrapod encrusted beach, dig deep into that childhood imagination and try and imagine for a second something beautiful like the magnificence of these ancient creatures.
If you're so worried about the typical Japanese person's protein intake, you'd be better off writing pro-tofu articles.
Stop the destruction
I'm against hunting whales. I understand that different cultures have different diets, but when any species comes close to extinction that is wrong. We know so little about these animals and yet we choose to kill them for food. Their meat is not even a necessity -- it's being used for pet food.
We have been put here as guardians and yet we make everything ours and destroy them. No more rain-forests, no more animals. It's not a very pretty sight, is it? Greg
If the moratorium on whaling was lifted, it would spell disaster for entire species of whales around the world. I'm not accusing Japan directly of initiating a mass slaughter, but the rogue fishermen and the countries they come should stand accused. If there were a large market opened up for whale meat, you can be sure that there will be fisherman out there that will try to exploit it and make a few dollars by slaughtering as many whales as they can, regardless of the environmental repercussions. Geoff
It would be great pity that the whales I have seen frolicking in Sydney Harbour over the last few weeks end up in food stores or pet food cans in Japan. The sheer barbarity of the practice of culling intelligent, playful and, of course, endangered creatures is appalling. If Japan is a country that values the environment and ecological diversity, it needs to put an immediate stop to the practice of whaling and the lie of whaling for scientific purposes. Ralph
Worth more alive
I live in Byron Bay, where many Japanese tourists come to watch humpback whales on their annual migrations. The whale watching industry is worth $300 million a year to Australia.
A rough guess would be that each humpback whale would be worth a million dollars to Australia and as they spend their summer in Australian Antarctic waters in a whale sanctuary, we regard them as our whales.
It is deeply shocking to the average Australian to think that Japanese whalers can choose to kill our whales in a sanctuary, especially when many of these whales are known by name and have been studied individually by whale watchers and scientists.
If the whalers go ahead and kill our humpback whales it will cause a deep and long lasting rift in the Australian Japanese relationship. Richard
Japan doesn't need to catch whales at all to stay in shape economically. If you're so sensitive to traditions, why don't you go out in wooden ships any more? Orio
Losing a U.N. seat
Basically, Japan must of given up all hope of a U.N. security council seat if it wants to continue with whaling. Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand a few months ago were willing to give Japan support for its UNSC effort in line with the United States. That will become more difficult now.
There are already calls in the media in both Australia and New Zealand to stage a naval intervention of Japanese whaling vessels. This is a viewpoint harking back to the successful naval intervention into French nuclear testing in the South Pacific a couple of decades back, such is the depth of feeling over this issue.
Whaling is another public relations disaster in the international media following on from prime ministerial visits to war shrines, dodgy history textbooks and claims to disputed islands. For Japan in a geopolitical sense it begs the question. Why?
Maybe Japan is still really is the 1970s ties but with shiny new keitai phones -- a country run by people in their seventies for people in their seventies.
Is not fair killing free, intelligent, nearly extinct, cute animal as dolphins and whales! Only for stupid sushi! Alessandro
Time to stop
I am absolutely outraged at reports that Japan will expand it's experimental catch to include Humpbacks despite the vote at the IWC.
Tradition and cows have nothing to do with blowing an animal who lives in a close knit pod out of the water with a grenade to fulfill a niche market in expensive restaurants.
If Australians resumed culling Koalas for fur and dog food, as was our custom, the Japanese and the world would stay away in droves. David
Bad for humans
How can Japanese officials justify allowing whale meat to be served in restaurants or sold in markets when the toxic laden is massive? Whales and dolphins, top of the marine food chain, bio-accumulate the PCB's, dioxins, and all other chemicals malingering throughout the marine food chain, and when you consume that meat, the resting place for those chemicals is in your body. Taffy
Making the right choice
The IWC should not have to force Japan to stop whaling. Japan should stop whaling on its own. Whaling isn't economical, it is, at best, ethically dubious and clearly isn't resulting in worthwhile scientific research. Where's the data?
Norway is at least being honest in it's pursuit of whales for commercial hunting. Again, I would hope the Norwegians would cease their whaling activities on their own as responsible stewards of the waters off their coast. Eating a whale is just like eating a chimpanzee or a pet dog. Catherine
Cows not same
The argument so often made that there is no difference between a slab of whale or cow on your plate overlooks one very simple fact -- cows are not endangered, nor are they harvested from the wild.
If there is one example of our ecosystem slowing crawling back from the brink of extinction, it is the gradual increase in our whale populations.
For a country to propose re-introducing whaling is akin to pushing a drowning man back into the water as he is climbing into a life boat. Phil
Be a vegan
In response to the argument that there is a dietary need to eat whale, I have one response -- veganism.
Seven kilograms of grain are required to produce 1 kg of beef; the conversion is 4-to-1 for pork and 2-to-1 for poultry. Each kilogram of meat represents several kilograms of grain that could be consumed directly by humans, not to mention the water and farmland required to grow the grain. Andrew
Japan losing face
The Japanese government stance on this matter is not supported by the general Japanese public as demonstrated in many surveys over many years,and it severely undermines the perception of foreigners, that the Japanese are very sensible people.
For those of us who have visited Japan and experienced the sensibilities of the Japanese people, this pigheaded attitude of the Japanese government defies logic other than they do not want to lose face by changing their position. That is not raising Japan's profile and status as a world leader. Rather it is holding Japan up to ridicule. R
One more scrap
Japan seems to be in dispute with many countries over territorial claims,its history of war time atrocities and whaling. Of particular concern is how belligerent the Japanese government seems to be in its approach and its willingness to offend counties like Australia and New Zealand over the whaling issue. Its perceived "corruption" of some small Pacific island states to boost its vote at the IWC will ultimately backfire on the Japanese.
Japan wants to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council but its actions will make counties such as Australia, N.Z. and many European countries think twice about supporting Japan. GG
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