More thoughts on Whaling and the IWC
History of the IWC
- 1770s-1800s-large-scale whaling for oil.
- 1849-invention of oil well
- early 1900s-technology improves (power boats, harpoon guns, factory ships)
- 1925-League of Nations recognized the need for regulation of whaling due to over-exploitation.
- 1930-Bureau of International Whaling Statistics set up to keep track of catches
- 1946-International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling
- 1949-International Whaling Commission established
- 1961-66,000 whales killed (highest number recorded)
- 1972-the UN Conference on the Human Environment proposed a ten-year moratorium on commercial whaling
- 1982-IWC agrees to moratorium on commercial whaling
- 1986-moratorium enacted
Documentation of nobility eating whale meat 1000 years ago.
Whaling villages sometimes built shrines to the whales, worshiped them.
After WWII Japan was encouraged by the US to resume whaling to feed all the hungry people. Whale meat became a staple of the diet.
Whaling today isn't nearly as big of a problem as it was. So, what should the role of the IWC be today?
- conservation in general (bycatch, shipstrikes, environment?)
- just keep regulating?
Class session summary (riki)
Hope began by informing us of what has happened in the past when there was no regulation and by going over the history of whaling and regulation. When whaling was not regulated, the whale supply was exhausted. Whalers believed that the lack of whales meant that the whales were frequently relocating and failed to realize that they were really just hunting the whales to extinction. Whales were originally hunted for oil, so one would expect a reduction in whaling after the invention of the oil well, but with new whaling technology, more and more whales were caught and killed. Japan became big whalers after WWII, with the support of the US, due to the new technology and widespread hunger. However, whaling regulation groups also started right after WWII. Concerns about whales then was husbandry, so what are the contemporary concerns about whales? What are the different motivations for whaling for different cultures at different times? There have been several waves of concern about whales.
We also discussed Japan’s scientific research. It is vague. We still don’t understand their scientific reasoning behind killing whales, other than for anatomical studies.
Then we moved on to discussing what the role of the IWC should be today. Conservation efforts do not seem to be productive. Japan alone could not have driven whales extinct. Is the IWC irrelevant? Is Japanese whaling relevant to whaling history?