A ceremony at the Ulsan Whale Festival, in Ulsan, South Korea, during the IWC meeting.
Today at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Ulsan,
SouthKorea, anti-whaling nations won a historic victory. The
commissionfirmly rejecting a Japanese government proposal which
would have paved the way towards a lifting of the ban on
commercialwhaling. It was voted down 29 votes to 23.
Interestingly, Korea, which traditionally has voted with
thepro-whaling bloc, abstained from the vote. Our activists here
atthe Whale Embassy in Ulsan, South Korea were delighted at this
news.Through pressure here on the ground and pressure from
cyberactivistsaround the world, we have made real headway in
convincing theKoreangovernment not to risk their international
reputation by becoming asupporter of commercialwhaling. It is a big
step forward for Korea.
However, coinciding with the IWC has been Ulsan's "Whale
Festival" -which celebrates Ulsan's history of whaling. It is
legal to eat whalemeat in Korea if the whale was caught and killed
accidentally while fishing - knownas "bycatch". But by some
"amazing coincidence" several minkewhales have been "accidentally"
caught just in time for the Festival
. One juvenile minke whale,
caught just two days ago, was sold for about USD$31,000.
Further evidence that some accidents aren't accidental came when
we obtained footage of how easy it is to buy awhaling harpoon in
South Korea. The footagewas filmed via a hidden camera in an
ordinary fishing tacklestore. The following dialogue occurs on
: Whales sell for a lot of money.
: I heard there are a lot of harpoon guns on sale at the
: Dolphins used tosell for around 300 000 won (approximately
USD$300), nowadays they canfetch up to (USD$600) 600 000 to 700 000
won (USD $700).
Yesterday I tried to find one, but I had no luck, there weren't
any around. The captain asked me to find one.
The customer goes on to buy a whale harpoon that can hold a
whale of upto one ton. We have also obtained the whaling harpoon
itself asproofthat this activity is still happening in Korea.
This is just one example of why, despite today's great victory
atthe IWC, there are still threats to whales and dolphins.
Thereare loopholes that allow "Scientific whaling" and the
underground tradein "bycatch", which according toRoyal Society
research, threatens to drive the Korean populationof minke whales
to extinction even if commercial whaling is notresumed.
Of course there are also several more days where whales issues
willbe hotly debated at the IWC including a proposal by the
Japanesegovernment to abolish the Southern Whale Sanctuary.
For now though, we have succeeded in keeping the IWC moratorium
onwhaling firmly in place, convinced Korea not to build a whale
meatfactory, taken 51,000 people to a Virtual March at the IWC, and
continued to pressure Iceland through the Iceland
pledge.To be a part of our ongoing efforts, sign
up now to be a Greenpeacecyberactivist. The whales are
counting on your continued vigilance.
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