Whaling

The madness of the whaling – hunting species after species to the verge of extinction – is the same model now being used in modern fishing today. Protecting the whales – not just from hunting but the many other daily threats they face - would be a signal that governments are serious about all ocean protection.

“Save the Whales” is the famous shout out that brought millions of people together and produced a worldwide ban on commercial whaling in 1986. Whales were and still are the most extreme example of the shocking exploitation and lack of protection of ocean life.

It was claimed that there used to be so many Right whales in Cape Cod Bay on the east coast of the USA, that locals could walk across their backs from one side of the bay to the other – a distance of 40km. It is estimated that there are 400 left in the area. The global movement that “saved the whales” is still needed today.

Activists have risked their lives in the Southern Ocean, putting themselves between the whales and the harpoons; campaigners in Japan have risked their freedom to expose the corruption of the whaling programme, people have marched, petitioned and demanded change; in 2013 one government took Japan to court over its continued whaling. Even cartoon characters want to save the whales – so why are they still at risk? 

Japanese whaling fleet kill a whale. 01/07/2006 © Greenpeace / Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Not only do whales continue to be hunted by Japan, Norway and Iceland, they are also increasingly falling victim to ship strikes and being caught in nets as bycatch. Hundreds of thousands of whale and dolphins die each year in this way. Pollution, plastic trash in the ocean and overfishing are taking a heavy toll. The blubber in some whales caught in Arctic regions is so heavily contaminated with airborne chemicals and pesticides that it would class as toxic waste and numerous whales have been washed ashore having  starved to death with plastic bags and sheeting stuck in their oesophagus or stomachs.

Whales are long-lived, from 70-150 years, and slow to reproduce. It makes them very vulnerable to population collapses.  Blue whales – the biggest animal to have ever existed - have still not recovered from being hunted to the brink of extinction. Only one population, the East Pacific grey whale, is thought to have recovered to its pre-hunting levels, but the closely related West Pacific grey whale population is the most endangered in the world. It hovers on the edge of extinction with just over one hundred remaining.  The north Atlantic right whales are endangered.

And even these estimates may not be reliable. Previous estimates of population sizes have had to be dramatically reduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the organisation whose job it is to enforce the whaling ban and monitor populations.

Some measures are being taken to protect whales. The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary came as the result for great public demand for protected areas for the great whales. The Japanese whaling fleet continues to ignore the sanctuary status of the Southern Ocean, but a properly enforced ocean sanctuary could provide much needed protection for whales and countless other marine species.

The latest updates

 

Whaling Action Hamburg

Video | 18 July, 2013 at 11:26

Greenpeace activists protest against the transport of fin whale meat from Iceland to Japan via European ports. In Iceland, whaler Kristján Loftsson plans to hunt up to 184 fin whales this summer. This operation is being carried out despite a...

Whales in the courtroom – the last days of the hearing

Blog entry by John Frizell | 17 July, 2013 5 comments

I was optimistic on board the train, heading to The Hague for Japan's final presentation of its case for continuing Antarctic whaling. The court case started more than 3 weeks ago at the International Court of Justice and my lawyer...

A whale of a time

Blog entry by John Frizell | 13 July, 2013 1 comment

Last week was a good week for the fin whales of the North Atlantic, a week that has been three years in the making. In April 2010, we learned that a ship from Iceland had unloaded 7 containers of whale meat in Rotterdam for...

Chipping away at the fin whale trade

Blog entry by Arin de Hoog | 11 July, 2013 8 comments

Somewhere between Iceland and Japan, the fin whale got a little bit safer. The 27 metre long mammal is the second largest in the world. It ranges across the globe and can be found less and less in all the major oceans. It's a beautiful...

Whale meat shipment successfully blocked

Blog entry by Andrew | 10 July, 2013 6 comments

This morning, Greenpeace Germany activists boarded a ship docked in Hamburg, and prevented it from leaving with a cargo of meat from endangered fin whales. Germany doesn't hunt whales of course. Like almost every country in the...

6 - 10 of 190 results.

Categories
Tags